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Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake [pinit] Are these lighter gluten free recipes becoming a ‘thing’ here on the blog? *Perhaps* Before we jump headlong into this moist and tender lighter recipe for gluten free banana cake, a few words about lighter recipes in general (well, a few more words – we have already had a few words on the subject when we made these lighter gluten free chocolate muffins, but who’s counting?). About those portion sizes…

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

This cake is made in a 9-inch x 12-inch baking pan. It’s not a tiny cake, but it’s not absolutely enormous either. Since I only provide nutrition information for these lighter recipes, and since this is a new thing for me generally (personally, I don’t count calories and I don’t think fat is in any way evil), I started looking around at other websites that provide nutrition information. I noticed something, well, curious. They tend to mess with the portion sizes quite a lot! That’s what I noticed. They might stretch a muffin recipe to make 16 instead of the 12 standard-size muffins it should make. Or they’ll slice a cake into slivers to keep the calorie count low. I think you can guess where I come out on this…

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

This cake makes 12 normal-size pieces. Sure, you can slice it into 16 pieces and lower the calorie-count per piece from nearly 200 calories (unfrosted) to closer to 150 calories (unfrosted). But that would be ridiculous. Why bother, if you’re just gonna ‘pick’? And since you’re a normal person, you’re gonna have 2 pieces, then.

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

I did provide separate nutrition information for the frosting, because if you’re really concerned with calories, don’t have the frosting. But it has real vanilla seeds in it. And it’s still delicious even though I used lighter cream cheese (something I don’t normally do because my love of cream cheese is pret-ty intense and they tend to call the lighter stuff something else that I can neither pronounce nor spell).

Lighter Gluten Free Banana Cake

Oh, and a couple actual recipe notes:
Bananas: Resist the urge to add more mashed ripe bananas. And please do measure by weight, not by banana. They vary so much! Seriously, if you load this up with bananas, your cake will be dense, will take forever to bake, and even when it does it will still have parts that seem raw. I made this cake 3 times and had to trash it all 3 times before I got the balance just right. And it killed me to waste ingredients just like it does you. For me, though, it’s an occupational hazard!

Substitutions: Since banana cake already has quite a lot of moisture from the bananas themselves, if you make any substitutions, you might have trouble! I know you’re going to ask anyway, but I can’t really recommend any subs since I had such a hard time nailing this recipe. As always, if you do make substitutions successfully, please let us all know in the comments!

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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 12 pieces of cake


2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten free flour  (I used my Better Than Cup4Cup blend)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons (72 g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) + 2 egg whites (60 g total) at room temperature, beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (200 g) mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium-size bananas, peeled and mashed)

1/2 cup (120 g) light sour cream (not nonfat)

6 ounces light (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup (86 g) confectioners’ sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9-inch x 12-inch baking dish (not glass) and set it aside.

  • Make the cake. In a medium-size bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside. Place the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar, then the egg, egg whites, vanilla and bananas, beating until well-combined after each addition. Add about 2/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, then the sour cream, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be thick.

  • Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan, and shake the pan from side to side and smooth with a wet spatula into an even layer. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • While the cake is cooling, making the frosting. Place all of the frosting ingredients in a large bowl (or the clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake and slice the cake with a sharp knife into 12 pieces. Serve immediately.

  • Nutrition Information per piece of cake, as calculated with recipes.sparkpeople.com (I only provide nutrition info for recipes that I call “light” or “lighter”), assuming 12 pieces of cake:

    Calories 192.8 | Total Fat 6.2 g | Cholesterol 30.3 mg | Sodium 202.1 mg | Potassium 100.8 mg | Total Carbohydrate 31.8 g (Dietary Fiber 0.8 g; Sugars 16.5 g) | Protein 3.0 g

    Frosting adds the following per piece (assuming 12 pieces of cake):

    Calories 45.8 | Total Fat 1.1 g | Cholesterol 4.5 mg | Sodium 43.2 mg | Total Carbohydrate 8.0 g (Sugars 7.7 g) | Protein 0.5 g



P.S. Do you have your copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread? Your support makes the blog possible, and I appreciate you!

Comments are closed.

  • […] Lighter banana cake. […]

  • Helen Ottens
    January 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    As a diabetic I live by nutritional information. Although I can calculate it myself (I also us Sparkspeople.com) but I appreciate it already being with the recipe. My daughter is the gluten free member of the family and she really enjoys your recipes.

  • Kim
    January 21, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Can’t wait to make this. If its anything like the GF banana bread, which I seem to make weekly. My son will love this, Thanks again.

  • Samantha
    January 21, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for another “light” recipe…I love them! Hats off to you Nicole:)

  • January 21, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    I just love how you even make “light” stuff look awesome! I’m definitely making this, though I may just have to use regular cream cheese frosting on top :)

    • January 21, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Good idea, Dana. ;) You might need to thin it a bit with a teaspoon or two of milk at room temp, though, since light cream cheese is much runnier than full fat.

  • Rene
    January 21, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Thank you!! for telling us what flour blend you are using. I hope you continue with all your recipes going forward.

  • Chris
    January 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    OH, PLEASE Nicole!! Don’t throw it away! If it’s the least bit edible, a “bad” cake can be made into bread pudding!! And banana bread pudding is f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s.!!! Yeah, ask me how I know…it happened. Stuff happens. If you can make lemonade from lemons, I figured I could make bread pudding with a banana cake failure! Of course, it hasn’t happened since and we’ve all lamented that! I guess I could just make it with a perfectly GOOD banana cake!! Oh, and fat-free stuff is NASTY!! I’m sure wishing I had grabbed the discounted bananas on the “dead” rack when I got groceries yesterday…..

    • January 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Chris, it happens sometimes. Not often, but it does, and can’t be avoided. It’s an unavoidable (albeit small) part of recipe development.

  • Lisa B
    January 21, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Nicole, this is the first time I am commenting. First—love, love, love your site. Second, love your cookbooks. Third-;love that you are doing some light recipes for those of us who are calorie concious and have a sweet tooth and finally, like the pinterest make gluten free pin site. You are rocking all things gluten free and you do it well!

  • Erin Lowery Baerwaldt
    January 21, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    You are truly my hero! Thanks for thinking outside the box to make lighter versions of recipes (AND hunting down their nutrition facts because i know you are an army of one!). Just want you to know i think you are amazing and REALLY appreciate everything you do for us!

    • January 21, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Erin! That means a lot to me. :)

  • MIchelle
    January 21, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    This sounds so good! Perfect afternoon snack- not you rich, but still a nice treat. And you are absolutely right about the serving size thing!

    • January 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Yeah, no monkey business with serving size. That’s cheating!

    • Michelle
      January 21, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      And hopefully you knew I meant too rich not you rich. Sigh…. really should have taken typing instead of ceramics in high school…

    • January 21, 2014 at 7:34 PM


  • Cindy
    January 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Nicole!!!! Were you peaking through my kitchen window looking at the 5 almost black bananas that are begging to be made into bread or cake? Woohoo!!! Thanks!!! ~ Cindy

    • January 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Don’t be alarmed, Cindy. I mean no harm and am only peeking in your kitchen window for recipe ideas. :)

  • Danelle
    January 21, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Nicole….this looks great. I love banana bread and so does my husband(he’s my GF household member).
    One question….finding flours isn’t easy where I live but I have been able to purchase betty crockers GF flour blend in my stores ( and I have a family member who can provide it for me really cheap…they work for a joint company and they get a discount. I used it over the holiday’s with your angel food cake recipe with great results and I wondered if you had tried this flour or if you will be testing it to give us all some feed back on what you think?

    • January 21, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Hi, Danelle,
      I have only minimal experience with the Betty Crocker all purpose flour blend (I have only used it once), and judging from that and from the ingredients list, I would say that is quite similar to my basic gum-free flour blend, just with added guar gum—and they do not use superfine rice flours so it is rather gritty. The problem with gritty rice flour blends is that, even if you personally don’t taste the difference, your guests and/or family may and then it tastes, at best, ‘good, for gluten free.’ (which I can’t stand! it should be good, period!). That basic blend is okay for some applications, but isn’t ideal for most. So if you can get it really cheap, I say go ahead and try it in simple recipes like quickbreads, cookies and cakes, but keep in mind the grittiness and that it will not work in all of my recipes. You’ll have to experiment! Hope that helps. :)

  • Jennifer S.
    January 21, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    I love you and envy you all at the same time. Oh to be the person who doesn’t have to watch what they eat!! I’ve wondered several times how or why you are not 500lbs will all the yumminess that you make and have to taste over and over to make sure that it’s right just for us! I thank you for the bottom of my heart for recipes like this but I’m still jealous!!! lol…

    • January 21, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Oh, it’s not that I never ever gain weight or anything, Jennifer! It’s just that I don’t count calories as that would leave me feeling deprived and I would be more likely to overeat/eat when I’m not hungry/fall off the wagon. And I find that eating higher-fat, lower-sugar foods keeps me satisfied and happy without overeating. And much of what I make goes: into the freezer, into the children, into my husband’s office, to our neighbors, to anyone who will have it! :)

    • Anneke
      January 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      I have a nice image now of your children standing next to the freezer, mouths open, waiting to see if the baked goods go into them instead of into the freezer!

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