Cordon Rose Banana Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Chopped Macadamia Nuts

"Cordon Rose Banana Cake," from Make It Like a Man!

At long last, I’ve returned to The Cake Bible. A couple of years ago, I had taken it upon myself to bake my way from Exodus to Revelations, but after completing only about five recipes, I came to understand that you just cannot have cake every single day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No, seriously. You can’t. So, I put the good book down some time ago, while I could still button my pants. However, a recent boon of bananas brought me back into the fold. At first, I was thinking banana bread, but then I thought, really? I mean, who doesn’t love it, but there’s got to be something more interesting. At the same time, a dread of having to do another internet search seized me, whipped me around from my desk, and pointed me to the volumes of cookbooks that are loading down the soffits of my kitchen cupboards.  My newly-minted husband regularly prophesies that the entire wall of tremendously overburdened cupboards will one day come crashing down, so I guess I’d be indulging him by moving one or two cookbooks to the countertop at least temporarily. It’s the least I can do, right? Relationships! I tossed the first few books aside, feeling sure that they wouldn’t have a banana bread recipe, and was about to do so with The Bible, when I hesitated. And I’m glad I did. The Cake Bible doesn’t have a banana bread recipe, but it does have this:

“Cordon Rose Banana Cake,” from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. New York: William Morrow, 1988. 69-70.

This cake is perfect, and I don’t use that word lightly. It’s fluffy, light, and delicious. The cake’s flavor will remind you of banana bread, but the resemblance both begins and ends there. Cordon Rose’s crumb is quite refined and delicate. In defiance of its sour-cream-and-butter base and its two large bananas, it feels confoundingly airy and relatively weightless. And yet it’s rich with flavor. This is a wonderful cake to take to a dinner party or pot luck: it’s unassuming, charming and not splashy, comfort-foody, and yet technically flawless. It would easily blend in with a casual menu, and yet anyone who knows cake would, at first bite, immediately understand that they’d stumbled onto something absolutely marvelous.

"Cordon Rose Banana Cake," from Make It Like a Man!

Ingredients (at room temperature)

8 oz. ripe banana (from 2 large bananas, 1 cup)
4.5 oz. sour cream (1/2 cup)
3.5 oz. eggs (2 large eggs)
2 tsp grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
1.5 tsp vanilla
7 oz. sifted cake flour (2 cups)
6 oz. sugar (3/4 cups + 2 Tbs)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 oz. unsalted butter (10 Tbs)
1/2 recipe Lemon Buttercream (optional)
2 oz. chopped macadamia nuts (a generous 1/3 cup, optional)
Powdered sugar (optional, for dusting if not using frosting)

How To:

Prep a 9-inch, tall-sided (2-inch) cake pan with butter, then flour the pan. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Pulse and then process banana and sour cream until completely smooth. Add eggs, zest, and vanilla; process just to blend. Set aside.

Sift dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add butter and 1/2 the banana mixture, and paddle until moistened. Beat on speed 4 (of 10) for 1.5 minutes. Scrape down. Add 1/2 of the remaining banana mixture; beat 20 seconds. Add remaining banana mixture; beat 20 seconds.

Scrape into pan. Bake until center tests clean, 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. (Once completely cool, frost, and garnish with nuts. OR, give the cake a light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving. )

"Cordon Rose Banana Cake," from Make It Like a Man!


  1. My directions are bare bones. For full-on guidance, see the book.
  2. I don’t find a parchment lining necessary for pan prep with this cake, but that may vary according to the type and/or quality of your pan.
  3. You can vary the amount of sour cream down to just a couple tablespoons.
  4. Ms. Beranbaum makes several suggestions for frosting, including (the obvious) chocolate. I chose from the paths less traveled.
  5. The Cake Bible has all sorts of information about this recipe: explanations of how and why it works, tips and tricks, etc. It also has a recipe for banana cheesecake that looks amazing.
  6. This is one of my secret tips for figuring out if a butter cake has finished baking: ideally, your first test should come out slightly wet. Continue testing every two minutes or so (experience will eventually guide you), and you’ll catch the cake at the very moment that it’s done and not a minute later. In this manner, not only will you avoid under-baking, but over-baking as well.
  7. This cake doesn’t need frosting. It’s superb without it, both in terms of looks and flavor. A light dusting of powdered sugar would be all you need to give it a sophisticated, finished, very old-school European look.
  8. If unfrosted, this cake doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it can be. Shockingly, it’s just as fantastic straight from the fridge as it is at room temperature. It also keeps well, and is delicious for days.
  9. Once you’ve processed the wet ingredients, you can keep them refrigerated for at least a day-and-a-half, if not more, tightly sealed. Bring them to room temperature before proceeding.
  10. Chopped pecans are a great alternative to macadamias, and actually, a mixture of both nuts is quite nice.

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Cordon Rose Banana Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Chopped Macadamia Nuts

Credit for images on this page: Make It Like a Man! This content was not solicited by anyone, anyone else, or any of the same people. It was not written in exchange for anything, either.

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17 thoughts on “Cordon Rose Banana Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Chopped Macadamia Nuts

  1. I’ve honestly been considering banana bread for weeks, but like you, I dreaded the endless internet research I’d inevitably put myself through. I may simply adapt this recipe for a loaf pan, skip the frosting and be done with it. It’s a new year and (just maybe) it’s time for a new way of doing things (at least temporarily). GREG
    sippitysup recently posted…Why I Blog. The Thread That Led Me Here

    • This cake is fantastic unfrosted. It won’t have the density you might expect in a loaf cake, but it will be delicious.

    • I would have it unfrosted any day. I love the texture of the cake so much, that I wouldn’t want to put nuts in it. I liked the nuts on top of the frosting, because they were separated from the cake. Still, though, maybe nuts in the cake would be fantastic. If you find out, let me know!

  2. How nice of you to take your husband’s advice when it comes to that bookshelf, Jeff. My vote is you say that the book can come down only after you bake/make/cook every recipe in it. That should keep you busy for a while! 🙂 Love this cake, though. It sounds like banana bread in cake form…with frosting. And we all know frosting is the best part of a cake! Well done, my friend, well done.
    David @ Spiced recently posted…19 Warming Soups and Stews

    • Thanks, David. Cooking my way through every cook book would by my dream vacation. Weird, I know. But my dream vacation also includes a sous chef and kitchen staff.

  3. What a nice looking cake! I’ll bet we all have much better recipes in the cookbooks on our shelves than we can find on the interwebs. But the internet is so much easier to search! So I often look there first, too, when I’m contemplating a new recipe. Fun read — thanks.
    John/Kitchen Riffs recently posted…The Stork Club Cocktail

    • I know what you mean. I tend to go to the internet first. However, the web is so full of recipes that turn out to be nowhere near as good as their pictures are beautiful. It can be a pitfall. That’s not to say that the same thing can’t happen with a cookbook, but I have a nice collection of tried-and-true books, and I’ve cooked only a fraction of what’s in them.

  4. What a way wonderful way to start the new year, Happy New Year! This cake looks and sounds delicious, the buttercream just takes it to the next level. The macadamia nuts addition sounds luxurious.
    Eva Taylor recently posted…Happy New Year!

  5. The cake looks awesome! It would standup well on any European table I’ve eaten at. The butter cream looks perfect. Good Stuff.

    How interesting your comment about running to search the internet for a recipe whilst having a shelf of cookbooks. I found myself Googling a Jamie Oliver recipe the other day, then though I have every cookbook he’s published why not use the book. I dug through the book cases and found the recipe I was looking for. It just felt good having a cookbook open to cook from.
    Ron recently posted…Lussekatter, Glögg and Swedish Christmas Traditions

    • Thanks for the cake comments. Regarding cookbooks, you know what’d be excellent? A searchable, electronic database of all of their contents!

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