Banana Cake with Spiced Rum Frosting

Ripe bananas and a hint of rum add incredible flavor to this light, fluffy banana cake with a spiced rum buttercream frosting

My husband, Jay, is probably the most rational individual I know. He thinks of everything in the long term and never makes rash, emotionally based decisions. Superstition has never had any influence on his convictions, except when it comes to bananas.

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Jay is a charter captain and spends most of the summer on a boat, splitting his time between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. When you board his vessel, there’s really only one rule that’s strictly enforced: No bananas. Ever. And if you ask why, he’ll tell you it’s because having a banana on a boat is bad luck.

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It’s not just his rule, many boating captains have outlawed the yellow fruit aboard their craft. I first heard this unfounded notion from my dad who scolded me when I packed a banana in my lunch during a fishing trip. He couldn’t give me an explanation other than to say it was bad luck and that I needed to eat it or throw it overboard right away. I was mad, but I obliged and ate my fruit while my dad muttered something about not being able to believe I would do something like that.

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When I met Jay and found out he was a charter captain, my very first question for him was about the bananas. I couldn’t believe that was actually a thing but he told me it was absolutely real. ‘I’ve made customers throw them overboard,’ he told me. He couldn’t explain why or say where this belief holds it’s origins, but bananas will always be prohibited on his boat.

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The longer we dated and the more charter captains I met through his work I realized this was a pretty serious belief. It was one of the few things we argued about since I believe bananas make perfect boat food, but I finally accepted that this wasn’t going to change and stopped trying to sneak them aboard.

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What will always baffle me is how much Jay actually loves bananas. They are a staple in our house and he and I go through quite a few in a week. And one of his favorite desserts is his grandma’s frosted banana cake. In fact, he loves this dessert so much it’s the only form of banana he’ll allow on board his vessel. With Jay getting ready to get the boat in the water this week in preparation for his fishing season, I thought a banana cake would be a good dessert for him to take along.

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It’s not his grandma’s recipe, but these banana cake bars are moist, sweet, and have a warm flavor profile thanks to some spiced dark rum in the batter and frosting. A cup of greek yogurt makes this cake perfectly dense, too. Sour cream can also be substituted for the yogurt.

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For now, I’ll have to accept that banana cake is the only banana we can have on the boat. But for the record, I still don’t think bananas are bad luck. The day I brought my banana fishing with my dad, he caught the biggest small mouth of his life and yet remains unconvinced that the banana was a good idea. Whether you’ll be on a boat or not, these banana cake bars will always be a good idea. Try them today and tell me about it in the comments below!

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Banana Cake with Spiced Rum Frosting

  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Spiced Rum
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 Tsp Salt

For the Frosting

  • 3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 2 Tsp Spiced Rum
  • 2-3 Tbsp Milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, beat the sugars and the butter together until well combined. Add the eggs, banana, vanilla, sour cream or greek yogurt, and spiced rum. Sift the flour, soda, and salt together and blend with the wet ingredients until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for at least an hour.

Make the frosting my beating the confectioner’s sugar, butter, spiced rum, and milk. Add more milk if the mixture is still dry. Spread on top of the cooled cake and enjoy!