Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

in Desserts

Pardon me while I get all bossy on you, BUT you must make this cake.

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

When I was lil’ Adrianna, I always dreamed about having a big sister. I wanted someone to steal clothes from, teach me how to French braid, paint my nails all gloopy and gross-like, steal my boyfriends (do sisters do this? I watch a lot of romantic comedies) and most importantly, I wanted someone to boss me around. I thought that bossy/bratty dichotomy between elder sister and younger sister seemed so fun.

Instead, I was born the older sister to a younger brother who was victim to a few non-requested beauty “makeovers” and a healthy dose of bossy-Adrianna.

Right now, I’m taking this big sister role seriously and being super bossy and telling you to make this G.D. cake!

(Do not worry! I will paint your nails later.)

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

This cake might be one of the more delicious things I’ve made in the past few months. I’m pretty pretty pretty in love with it.

And like all good love stories, it starts with butter.

The butter cooks with light brown sugar until it’s all bubbly and caramel-ey. Bourbon is added and then bananas.

The cake batter is added on top and the whole thing goes in the oven.

When it comes out, you’ll have to be super careful when you invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand. A pair of second hands help.

The caramelization will give the bananas pink highlights and since you’re a girl (maybe you aren’t?), you’ll squeal and it’ll be embarrassing.

But seriously, I mean, the bananas turned pink! How awesome is that?

Here’s the flavor low-down with this cake: there isn’t a huge bourbon flavor–it’s just a hint. No bourbon in the house? I give a big NO to plunking down an extra $30 just for this recipe. Whiskey will work, if you have it. Or rum. Oh gosh…rum!

The cake layer isn’t too sweet. The bananas with delicious caramel definitely are sweet. It almost has a flavor reminiscent of smooth, silky toffee. Yum.

I ate this on the warmer side of room temperature with a dollop of barely whipped cream and a cup of coffee.

I was pretty stoked on life.

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake

Yield: one 12-inch cake

Banana Bourbon Upside Down Cake


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • Banana Topping:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2-3 medium-sized bananas, sliced lengthwise


    *Before starting this recipe, be sure to read a few notes at the bottom.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small to medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Next, in a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla; and then mix until the mixture is smooth.
  3. To the butter and sugar mixture, mix in half of the flour mixture and the milk. Then, mix in the remaining flour mixture, being sure not to over mix.
  4. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (*see note below about alternative vessels), melt the butter over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Carefully add the bourbon (the mixture will sizzle!) and mix one more time. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly. Next, arrange the bananas to your liking.
  5. Pour the batter over the bananas, and spread the batter gently so it's nice and even. Transfer the cast iron skillet to the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. To invert the cake, place a (large enough) plate on top of the cast iron skillet and turn both of them over; lift up the cast iron skillet and voila! Your cake!
  7. I like to serve this cake slightly warm with a dollop of whipped cream. And a cup of coffee. Always.
  8. *Note #1: Before you start step #4, I'd recommend arranging your banana slices in the (dry and cool) cast iron skillet, and then transferring them to a nearby cutting board. This way you have a plan as to how you want them to be arranged once the pan is full of bubbling sugar and bourbon. Is this slightly OCD? Yes, but I want your cake to look pretty, too! So this is how.
    *Note #2: If you don't have a 12-inch cast iron, you can surely use a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 10-inch cake pan. If you use a 10-inch cast iron skillet you may have a bit of batter leftover and the cake part will be thicker. No biggie! If you use a 10-inch cake pan, you'll need to do step #4 in a skillet and then pour the caramel mixture into the cake pan.

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Ezekiel February 18, 2013 at 12:22 am

so like what if you don’t want to put any sort of liquor in it at all? Does it serve a particular function other than flavor? and would you not be in love with it without it?


Anna February 18, 2013 at 12:46 am

Wow, that sounds absolutely gorgeous! I was playing around with bananas in my head yesterday, so this recipe comes in very handy.
Bytheway, do you know BANNOFFEE? That’s the best ever dessert, with bananas and caramelized Milk Maid.



Michelle February 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for telling us about Banoffee Pie! I looked it up online and it looks delicious!
Michelle M.


Averie @ Averie Cooks February 18, 2013 at 1:12 am

Bananas with pink highlights. And bourbon. And an upside-down cake. I am so into this! Caramelized bananas can do no wrong and I am in love with how they turned pink. Pinning!


Abby @The Frosted Vegan February 18, 2013 at 3:44 am

Looooove this. Booze and carmel, yes please!


Little Kitchie February 18, 2013 at 4:48 am

YUM. Saw this on instagram yesterday and was dying – so glad you posted it! Definitely trying this one!!


Marygrace @ whispers February 18, 2013 at 5:45 am

Yup, this is what I’m using the bananas on my counter for.


Kim @ Soliloquy Of Food & Such February 18, 2013 at 5:57 am

I love it when recipes call for a little OCD, and this looks delicious.


amy@ southern sweets and eats February 18, 2013 at 6:17 am

This is so pretty. I’m glad you posted this. I’ve always been afraid of the bananas turning black and making the cake look scary.


Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough February 18, 2013 at 7:08 am

All. The. Things. YUM!


Belinda @themoonblushbaker February 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

Caramel and bananas are my weakness. Need . to .buy. bananas. NOW!


Christina @ The Beautiful Balance February 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

Holy yum this is incredible! I need this entire skillet asap 😀


a farmer in the dell February 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

Boss me around all you want! I’m definitely making this cake!


Tina February 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

What a sweet post to kick off the new week to :) this looks incredible so indulgent yet soooo cozy! I love caramel n bananas :)


Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) February 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

This looks incredible! And I totally agree–the pink highlights on the banana are pretty awesome. As the youngest in my family, I’m using to bossy old sisters, so no qualms with that 😉


Michelle Ritchie February 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

This is fabulous…and utterly gorgeous! Agreed…gotta make this. I posted it on Facebook to share with our fans as well as I know they will love this!


First Night Design February 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

Delicious! I adore bananas recipes.


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe February 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

OMG, yes. I love this new (and fancy) way of baking with bananas!


Mimi February 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

This is absolutely beautiful!


Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) February 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

Wow, that is seriously one gorgeous cake. I love how you decorated the top with the bananas.


Morgan February 18, 2013 at 11:02 am

I was the youngest sister of three girls in my family and sadly, we didn’t participate in a lot fun girly activities (they were both 10+ years my senior). Instead, they were always like another set of mothers to me. So coincidently, I actually dream about the same sisterly activities myself :)

Also – Drooling over this cake. I can’t imagine anything better than bourbon and bananas baked into a cake.


Adrianna February 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Oh ha. Set of mothers! That’s super cute.


Jane February 18, 2013 at 11:03 am

I like the way you write; made me smile :)
And yum. Double yum, yum. That cake looks good!


Cozinha sem Lactose February 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

Marvellous! Love it, thank you for the inspiration.


Stacey February 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Welp, don’t I feel like a dummy… When I saw this on IG last night I thought the nanners were bacon! I’m totally cool with no bacon and lots o’ carmelized pink nanners and bourbon!!


Adrianna February 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

A lot of people thought this! No biggie! I think bacon and bananas sound like a win of a combo.


Emily@ Totes Delishy February 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Love this! Banana is so underused its about time it got time to be the classy superstar it is and not just a sunscreen scented cocktail addition!


Eileen February 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

What a great presentation! I love the huge swaths of banana. And the idea of adding rum to a banana cake is definitely getting me excited to give it a try. :)


Carmen February 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Ok esta bien ya puedes parar de poner recetas tan ricas…llevo no se cuantas seguidas
que quiero hacer y viene el siguiente post y otra mas…son geniales!saludos desde suiza!


Maria | My So-Called Vegetarian Life February 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Oh my god, I almost died when I saw that picture. I am a fan of anything banana, caramel-y, butter-y…this would be delicious with some rum, for sure. I really want to have a special occasion to have an excuse to make this.


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar February 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

This cake is so fabulous looking!! Great recipe!


misschelsmangia February 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Yes ma’am I will get on this cake asap! As the older sister (by two years) to my younger seester I must say that we have never crossed that whole boyfriend line, however; I do know a thing or two about being bossy. haha! But that goes both ways. :)


Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen February 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

As the oldest of 3 girls, I’ve never had a big sister to boss me around…but I am totally going to listen to your bossiness and make this as soon as my self-imposed Lent ban on liquor is over. It looks amazing!!


mellissa@ibreatheimhungry February 18, 2013 at 5:59 pm

You had me at bourbon!


Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking February 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I always wanted sisters too. I had dreams of Little Women-like relationships with sisters. Instead, I got dealt the same hand as you, two younger brothers. So, you can totally boss me into making this cake!


Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs February 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Yum! We always have banana cake on Christmas Eve. This recipe looks great!


Jayne February 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Such a pretty pretty cake! And I love banana cakes and breads but this is entirely a different animal! I’m going to have to try this out once I get me some nanas. I’ve never liked pineapple upside down cake cos I feel it tastes weird but this I can get into.


Michelle February 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

As an older sister, I find the bossy thing pretty rad. I’ve never been bossed, though, so being told to make the g-d cake makes me excited and annoyed all at the same time.



Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen February 18, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Oh yum, this sounds so good! Caramel and bananas are such a great combination.


Leslie February 19, 2013 at 8:11 am

How fast can I get to the grocery store to make this cake?

Thanks so much for the clever idea!

And Then The Doorbell Rang


Meghan {For the Love of Dessert} February 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

As a bossy older sister myself, I say fine. I’ll make the cake (holy yum!). But I’m going to get you back some day. You just wait.


Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up February 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

Caramelized bananas and bourbon? Yes please. I love the idea of trying this with rum instead of bourbon (maybe I just like rum.) Sounds perfect with a cup of coffee.


Jen @ Fresh from the... February 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Dang, I’ve been meaning to use the cast iron skillet I bought; perhaps I’ve found its first recipe! Looks so yummy, not to mention pretty!


Michelle February 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I am definitely making this! It looks SCRUMPTIOUS!!!! I love bananas!


Ani Mendez February 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm

ah!!!!!!!!!!! es rosada!!!!!!!!!!!
que bella, se ve deliciosa, la haré.-


Katie @ Blonde Ambition February 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

This cake is seriously beautiful! Not to mention it sounds delicious. I’m okay with bourbon in my….everything.

And you sound a lot like the kind of big sister I’ve always been to my little brother (ugh, can’t call him “little” brother, he’s like 6 foot 3)…and I have the pictures of him in a tutu to prove it. But I always dreamed about what having a sister would be like too!


Kara February 21, 2013 at 6:38 am

I tired it and it was awesome!!!!, except it got stuck in my skillet. :( Where did I go wrong? I ended up just slicing and flipping and covering it in whipped cream but I couldn’t make it pretty.


Adrianna February 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Oh no! It shouldn’t have stuck. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the cast iron skillet that you’re using isn’t super seasoned?


Cookeattweet February 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm

This cake looks gorgeous. I’ve made a similar cake with mangoes, from the Michael’s Genuine cookbook. The mango cake uses buttermilk, a little cornmeal with the flour and separates the eggs, beating the whites until frothy, before incorporating them back into the batter. The texture is ethereal. I’d like to try a combination of these two recipes.


RLT February 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

Five huge slightly over-ripe bananas waiting for me last night. I sliced two into six slices and made this recipe. My cast iron is seasoned very well and I flipped it onto a cake carrying container bottom perfectly. It looked EXACTLY like yours (when does that ever happen?) and tasted (pardon me) better! Have you tried it with cooked apples or pears?


Adrianna February 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

Hello! Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t tried it with other fruits but I bet it’d be really awesome with apples. I feel like this is a good base and can be swapped out for a variety of fruits, just as long as they’re on the sturdy side. :)


Lindsay February 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! I’m actually using my great grandmas old cast iron and I could not be more excited. My cake seemed to cook quickly though so I took it out before my bananas really pinked up! Still amazingly delicious.


rozinchina March 6, 2013 at 1:09 am

waw, what a lovely recipe. will try it for sure. i don’t own a cast iron skillet and while reading i was thinking that i should ask whether it can be replaced with a cake pan. but you already answered that :)
greetings from eastern europe (romania)


Adrianna March 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Hi there! You should be able to use a 10-inch cake pan and be totally fine. I’d definitely be sure to line it with parchment as well as butter and flour the sides since it’ll be less non-stick than a seasoned cake pan. Hope that helps! xo


Kahkasan Akhi March 8, 2013 at 7:35 am

How beautiful is the cake!!! Is that a cup of chai?


Adrianna March 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

Cup of milky tea! PG Tips, to be exact.


Marebear April 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Thank you so much for inviting us into your kitchen for gems like this recipe! So simple to make, but so very, very delightful. :o) My bananas didn’t turn pink this time, but they will the next … oh yes … they will …


Allison @ bakingyear July 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Wow!!! this looks amazing! I just made a banana upside down cake and it turned out fabulously. Check it out!
The only question I have is that do you ever run into the issue of the middle of your banana cake not cooking through? This happened to me, and has happened to me twice before when baking banana bread. It doesn’t occur when I bake regular cakes, so I suspect that the batter is too dense. Do you have any suggestions?


Adrianna Adarme July 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Oh your cake looks fantastic! I don’t but that’s because this cake doesn’t have banana cake baked into it. I think the problem sometimes with banana bread is that it’s too moist, almost dense. My boyfriend’s mom would actually roast the bananas, which would dehydrate the bananas a bit, giving you a less dense bread. I think you should try that and see how it works out. I bet you’d have better results.


Marina August 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Oh boy. This is so going to my autumn to-do list (if I can wait so long, that is). I only have a 9 inch cake pan which probably means that the cake layer will be a lot thicker than yours and you mentioned that this part isn’t too sweet… So I’m thinking of sneaking some caramelized white chocolate in there? It sounds awesome in my head but do you think it would then be too sweet?


karen October 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

I put whiskey instead of bourbon as suggested but the bananas didn’t turn out pink :( any clue why


Adrianna Adarme October 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hmm…the whiskey vs bourbon thing shouldn’t have made that much of a difference. Hmm…I’m not sure why they didn’t turn out pink? Did you use a cast iron?


karen October 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

Ooops used a Tefal to melt the butter and sugar, so the cast iron would have made all the difference?


Thi Nguyen January 19, 2014 at 8:06 am

If the banana not ripe enough, it will not yield the pink color as it cooks. By the way, the cake looks gorgeous!


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