gluten-free banana cake w/ passionfruit icing

Bananas used to be one of those fruits we always seemed to have laying around, with at least one from every bunch ripening just a tad too much to make for pleasant eating, destined only for baking or freezing. But since moving to Perth where bananas were selling for $19kg last March they quickly became an absolute luxury. On the very few occasions I actually bought any, not one was ever wasted, meaning things like baking banana cakes, muffins and cookies became but a distant memory. It's taken Aussie banana growers this past year to recover from the devastating Brisbane floods and I'm now happy to say banana's are once again cheap as chips and happily rotting away in our fruit bowl...

I've been meaning to make a banana cake since the prices dropped as it's one of Si's favourites and holds so much childhood nostalgia for me. The day before I baked this I was tossing up between making a peach or banana cake when I received a email from a reader asking if I had a nice gluten-free banana cake recipe... I took this as a sign, banana cake it was meant to be. The peach one would just have to wait.

This cake is super moist, full of rich banana flavour and not overly sweet thanks to the addition of quinoa flour. I could happily eat it un-iced but I couldn't go past the New Zealand/Australian classic of topping it with drippy tangy passionfruit icing. 

gluten-free banana cake w/ passionfruit icing
As I always mention, in NZ and Australia what we know as cornflour is actually known more widely as corn starch. Make sure it's gluten-free, along with the baking powder too. You will need approximately 1 1/2 cups mashed banana, use more banana's if yours are really small. We eat butter and yoghurt nowadays, but if you are completely lactose-free feel I'd use a natural dairy-free margarine and lactose-free or soy-based yoghurt for this recipe. I baked my cake in a 21cm kugelhopf cake tin, but you could use a similar sized regular or ring cake tin. Just watch out though as the cooking times may vary from mine.
Serves 10-12.

115g soft butter
1/2 cup (100g) muscovado/or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) organic raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature
3 ripe bananas, mashed * see notes above
1/3 cup (80ml) plain yoghurt

1/2 cup (60g) quinoa flour
1/2 cup (60g) fine brown rice flour 
1/2 cup (50g) gluten-free cornflour (corn starch)
3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (110g) almond meal (ground almonds)

passionfruit icing

1 cup (160g) pure icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (from 1 passionfruit), or as much is needed

    Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease a 21cm kugelhopf cake tin or similar sized regular or ring cake tin.
    Cream butter and sugars until light a fluffy. Add vanilla and beat in eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Stir through mashed banana and yoghurt (the mixture will curdle at this stage, that's okay), then finally sift over the dry ingredients and stir until a smooth cake batter forms. Spoon mixture into the tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or until cooked. When a skewer is inserted into the centre of the cake it should come out clean. If you are baking in a regular cake tin times will vary from mine, so I'd start checking from around the 35 minute mark and go from there. When cooked remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
    To make the passionfruit icing, place the sifted icing sugar into a bowl and add as much passionfruit pulp as needed to make a smooth runny glaze-like icing. If you prefer your icing thicker simply add less passionfruit. Ice the cake allowing the icing to dribble down the sides of the cake and serve.
    This cake happily kept for 2-3 days, getting more and more moist and moreish as they days went by. Store airtight.

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    • Reply
      January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

      This looks sooo moreish… my nanna loves making cakes with passionfruit icing, they're such a fun treat! I should really make some banana cake too, since the price has dropped- I seem to have since forgotten I can bake with them now! x

      • Reply
        January 21, 2012 at 1:39 am

        yeah I was like that too when they first got cheap we just ate them, but I've finally been able to buy really cheap bags of over ripe bananas, so I'm baking up a storm!

    • Reply
      January 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      Gorgeous looking cake! I like the use of Quinoa flour and ground almonds. Do you use a coffee grinder to grind the almonds, or do you think a food processor would work?

      • Reply
        January 21, 2012 at 1:42 am

        I have been buying pre-ground almond meal, but have just discovered I can put nuts through my Oscar juicer with the mincer attachment and it comes out perfect. You can grind almonds in a food processor, just pulse it though and watch carefully as one minute it's almond meal, the next it's almond butter! Keep any excess in the fridge or freezer to prevent it going rancid.

      • Reply
        January 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        Actually Ina, I'm pretty sure what we know as ground almonds/almond meal in NZ/Australia, you guys in the U.S know as almond flour. I'd try using that in this recipe if available, if you don't want to grind your own.

      • Reply
        March 3, 2016 at 1:15 am

        Bob's Red Mill have Almond Flour Ina

    • Reply
      Domestic Executive
      January 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Good to know that the banana industry is getting back off the ground. I love bananas – the perfect packaged food but love banana cake even more! This one looks and sounds delicious.

      • Reply
        January 21, 2012 at 1:46 am

        yeah those poor banana growers. It would have been so easy for the Govt. to just start importing bananas, but I applaud them for not doing so. Supporting the local farmers is much more important than people having cheap bananas to buy.

    • Reply
      January 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      What a gorgeous cake! I'm so glad you have bananas again. I love your passion fruit glaze – we were in Australia in December and I indulged in so much passion fruit (and mangoes!!). I'm holding onto those summery feelings since we are buried in snow now.

      • Reply
        January 21, 2012 at 1:43 am

        Hey cool, hope you had a great time here in Australia! December is the perfect time to visit, even if it's just so you can eat mangoes 🙂

    • Reply
      January 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Oh Em! Yum!!! Maybe this is just the cake that needs to be baked and taken on our camping trip today xx

      • Reply
        January 21, 2012 at 1:44 am

        sounds perfect Mara xx

    • Reply
      January 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Ah, a gluten-free cake. Comes quite in handy when you're feeling a little sick and stuff. Easier on the stomach for kids (and adults alike) too!
      This looks amazing! And bananas! Oh, how I miss thee (winter in Europe = bland bananas). As for passionfruit, it's insanely expensive in France, but hey, I'm going with chocolate icing for this one 😉
      Thank you for this lovely recipe!

      • Reply
        January 22, 2012 at 2:23 am

        Chocolate icing would be prefect too, my mum used to always ice her's with carob icing.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Ooh, I think I have all those flours…Hooray for the return of bananas! Always blew my mind hearing Australians saying how expensive they were, but then I spose mangoes are really expensive here 😛

      • Reply
        January 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm

        Yeah it was really weird being able to buy dried bananas for less $ than fresh!

    • Reply
      Cass @foodmyfriend
      January 23, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Yum! This looks delicous 🙂 It's really exciting when you find a gluten free recipe that is as good as the wheat version. Everyones happy!

    • Reply
      Jennifer (Delicieux)
      January 23, 2012 at 2:08 am

      I love a good banana cake and yours looks divine!!! Thank god bananas are finally afforable again!

    • Reply
      The InTolerant Chef
      January 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Perfect combination of flavours indeed! Banana cake is pure comfort food !

    • Reply
      This American Bite
      January 24, 2012 at 5:02 am

      You just made me want to stay awake and bake instead of calling it a night!

    • Reply
      Mairi @ Toast
      February 6, 2012 at 4:11 am

      Oh my goodness this looks amazing! Banana & passionfruit sounds like such a wonderful combination, must try this one once my month of abstinence is over 🙂 I haven't used quinoa flour before so I am keen to give it a go.

    • Reply
      February 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Yes it does look good, a great entry for Sweet New Zealand! I have to look out for brown rice flour, I am curious to try it :-).


      • Reply
        February 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

        Thanks Alessandra, make sure you look for 'fine' or 'superfine' as most brown rice flours are quite coarse.

    • Reply
      Couscous & Consciousness
      March 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

      What a heavenly looking cake, Emma. My partner loves a banana cake, and I have a few bananas hanging out in my freezer waiting to be turned into cake. Don't think there will be much possibility of a passionfruit icing though given the astronomical price of them here.
      Sue xo

    • Reply
      March 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Glad to hear of the return of the bananas. This looks completely delicious and I love the idea of the passionfruit against the banana; I don't think I've ever had a passionfruit glaze before.

    • Reply
      June 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      I made this cake yesterday for my sister's birthday. It was moist and flavourful. I added chocolate bits to the batter and covered it with a chocolate frosting, as we don't get passionfruit here in Canada. Thank you for sharing.

      • Reply
        June 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

        Oh! Your addition of chocolate bits and chocolate icing sounds PERFECT! Yum xx

    • Reply
      July 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

      I'm so excited to find this yummy cake and great site – thank you! I've just figured out that one of my sons shouldn't eat gluten (after buying 3x 25kg bags of wheat flours!!!). He really loves his food so i'm so grateful to you for sharing your recipes.
      Ellie 🙂 xx

    • Reply
      December 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Just thought I'd report back….made this as a banana loaf to take tramping in the weekend and it was great. Reduced the sugar to 150g and think I might try and go for a bit less next time. Added a bit more yoghurt to compensate for volume. Delicious! Have a great Christmas Emma & whanau xxxx

    • Reply
      February 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Emma
      Cake is freshly baked and smells amazing. Another great and easy recipe thank you! Will ice with old school kiwi lemon icing when cool.

    • Reply
      Sian Therese
      August 17, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Though I may be making this cake a few years after you posted it I still thought I'd let you know that it was gobsmackingly good! A touch too sweet so I'll use a little sugar next time. The texture was divine and passionfruit icing is genius. Thank you for a recipe gem. I took leftovers to work today and it was a hit, now a few more people know about your incredible kitchen skills!

    • Reply
      March 19, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Thanks for reigniting my love of passion fruit icing Emma. I remember it from my childhood too. Bliss!

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