Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks… Today was the last day of school for my little monkeys. I’ve been looking forward to this day for weeks now — looking forward to a lazy summer of flip flops and beaches, afternoons…

Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks…

Today was the last day of school for my little monkeys. I’ve been looking forward to this day for weeks now — looking forward to a lazy summer of flip flops and beaches, afternoons at the pool, and sessions of summer camp scattered between. And now that it’s here, just a few hours into summer vacation, and well, I feel like a zookeeper in the monkey house. It’s going to be a long summer, indeed (wait, that’s a good thing, right?).

How entirely appropriate that I have for you today a cake that would make the monkeys in your life go bananas. What silly monkey wouldn‘t like a Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake?

When I made this the cake, I was hoping to capture the essence of a Bananas Foster dessert, dripping into a spongy cake, with swirls of young coconut running through the syrupy sugars. My choice of young coconut, or buko, as it is called in the Philippines, was perfect, as it imparted its subtle coconut taste and added that lovely texture I love so much in young coconut meat.

It may not be the most sophisticated dessert, but it oozes of simplicity and down-home goodness. You must promise me you will try this cake, it’s that good. If that’s not enough to convince you, let me just say this: as I opened up my eyes after savoring a biteful, I looked up and spied my husband across the table licking his plate. Let me assure you, he has very nice table manners – I have never seen him do that before! He looked up at me and said, This is the best dessert you have ever made. I looked around the table and felt the happy silence as we all devoured our dessert – it was a moment of calm and quiet in the monkey house.

Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake

This fluffy and syrupy cake is made with young coconut, or buko, as it is called in the Philippines. It can be found in your local Asian market, most often in the freezer section, already shred into luscious strips.


  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup buko (young coconut)
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • flaked coconut for garnish (optional)
  • vanilla ice cream (optional)
  • caramel sauce (optional)


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Slice 3 bananas in half lengthwise and arrange flat side down in a pie pan. Trim pieces as necessary. Arrange the swirls of buko (young coconut) over the bananas. In a sauce pan, melt 1/4 cup butter. Stir in brown sugar until blended and dissolved. Remove immediately from heat and pour over the bananas and buko.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream 1/4 cup butter, and gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in egg, and add lemon juice, vanilla, and banana, mixing well, until banana is mashed and the batter is fully incorporated. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Spread over the bananas and coconut in the pie pan. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is springy in the center and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edge with a sharp knife and invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with flaked coconut if desired. Serve warm alone or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.


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  1. Lin

    My 3rd time to make this yummylicious cake, bananas and coconut, and yes there’s 2 monkeys in the house! Next to try is the Baked Coconut Doughnuts!! Thanks for all your recipes!!

  2. Laura

    Just wanted to let you know that this post of yours inspired me. I took your recipe, tweaked it a bit (I always do that!) and posted it on MY blog, with a nod (link!) to your original post. Delicious, thanks!

  3. Cristina, from BA to Paris

    I’m bookmarking all your coconut saga, particularly where you generously teach us how to open it etc, and this cake!! that my daughter C, a cocnut addict, will love! Thanks!

  4. kita

    Im not a huge banana fan – unless its in a cake or bread! This looks like heaven by the slice!

  5. Cristina

    Ms. Liren!! This is my kinda cake. :) Fruit…upside-down type cake and use of bananas. I like this recipe and the use of buttermilk. Can’t wait to try it – I think my Mom and sisters will love it too!

  6. Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot

    It’s times like these I wish I liked coconut! It’s one of those things that I want to love but, no matter how hard I try, I always hate it. This looks delicious!

    • Liren

      Say it isn’t so! Hate coconut?!? It’s okay, I can absolutely understand that, and I admire you for trying :) I do recommend the cake, even without the coconut. It’s just wonderful!

    • Liren

      Thanks Tracey! LOL, I’m always looking for assistants at the monkey house :)

  7. Felice - All That's Left Are The Crumbs

    I have never heard of buko before but I am hopeful that I can find it here. This sounds like such a delicious cake that it would be such a shame if I have to make a substitution for the coconut. I will try Chinatown here and see how I go.

  8. Roxana GreenGirl

    my monkey girl loves bananas and all banana treats. This upside down cake looks so elegant. I have to look at my local Asian store for some young coconut, i love coconut in sweet, mmmm
    thanks for sharing Liren, hope you’ll have a great weekend

    • Liren

      Why thank you, Barbara! I like to think you are right :) After seeing beautiful cakes everywhere, seeing my homely creation makes me think otherwise, but it is still so tasty :)

  9. Monet

    Yay for summer! And yay for yummy cakes! This looks and sounds amazing. I wish I had a slice made for me right now :-) Thank you for sharing with me, Liren. Your words and creativity bring a big smile to my face. Love and hugs from Austin!

    • Liren

      Thanks, Nicole! I especially thank you for the good wishes, I might just need it!

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