Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple Flour-less Protein Chocolate Banana Cake - No Gluten, Sugar, or Butter!

This cake is my new favorite obsession. It's sooooo freaking good, and takes care of those days when I crave cake. When I got the idea to make this, I literally shouted "Eureka!" (but in my mind). Pure laziness prompted me to think of this cake. I was tired of cleaning my frying pan and spatula every time I made crepes, so I wondered to myself whether I could bake the same batter I use to make my crepes. Parchment paper-lined pans are way easier to clean up. And lo and behold, by tweaking the proportions a bit and adding / omitting a few ingredients here and there, it worked.

My cake uses no flours (not even almond or coconut flour!), no sugar, and no butter. The only carbs you'll get from this is from the banana. It's also super versatile. I make this every day, and I've experimented with many different spices. Scroll down below for a list of ideas that I've tried and liked! I love making this with cardamom the best, though.

This cake won't have the consistency of a regular cake. It's more moist inside. Depending on how big and ripe your banana is, your texture might vary. Also, if you use more whey protein / cocoa powder, it will be less moist. I used to eat it warm and straight from the oven, but because it started to remind me of a tiramisu (but not as wet) I got the idea to make a mascarpone filling and chill the cake. Best idea ever.

Just for funsies, I calculated the caloric content. One egg (70 cal), one banana (~70-100 cal), and one scoop of whey protein (~140 cal) = 310 calories for the entire cake, rounded up. Sweet (literally).


Makes 2-3 servings, or 1 if you have fat kid days like me.

What you'll need:
For the cake:
  • One ripe banana
  • One egg
  • ~ 1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein (I used chocolate. I've used 1/2 a scoop for wetter, moister cakes and 1 scoop for a less moist cake)
  • ~ 1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetned
  • ~ 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods, with the seeds crushed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Optional: some chopped nuts (I've used macadamia nuts, almonds, and walnuts - they're all great)
For the filling (optional):
  • 1 spoonful of Greek yogurt 
  • 1 spoonful of mascarpone cheese  (or you can omit the mascarpone and use all Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

For the cake: 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C if you're using a metal pan, 325 F / 160 C if you're using a glass pan like I did. I used the 10x4 MIXTUR dish by IKEA. Line your pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mash up your banana really well in a bowl. Then mix the cardamom seeds and nuts (if you want) in.
  3. Whip the egg in a separate bowl, then use a fork to mix the egg into the bowl with the mashed banana until combined. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the whey protein, baking soda, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just mixed well. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake in the middle rack for about 30-40 minutes, or until your toothpick test comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare your filling if you want.
  7. When your cake is done, turn off the oven and open the door, and let the cake chill there for a minute. Then, take it out from its parchment paper home and set it to cool on a rack. You can either eat it plain, or read on if you want to do the filling. 
  8. When it's sufficiently cool (about 15 minutes), cut it into 2 or 3 pieces, then cut each piece in half lengthwise with a knife, and spread your mascarpone / yogurt mixture on the bottom half. Put the top half back on, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat. When I make this for other people, I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make it look purdy. 
For the filling:
  1. This is easy. Combine the mascarpone, Greek yogurt, and instant coffee together in a small bowl, and whip with a fork until the consistency is to your liking. You can add more yogurt or mascarpone if you want. Or leave out the mascarpone and just use the Greek yogurt with the coffee! 
  2. Spread on your cake. 
Some variations that I've made of this cake that have worked out well:
  • Cut up an Earl Grey tea bag and mix in about 1/2 Tbsp dried tea leaves in the batter. I love Earl Grey, and it tastes great with the cake and spices. 
  • I've made this using 1 Tbsp of matcha too, and it turned out pretty good.
  • Use pumpkin spice instead of the cardamom. 
  • For an extra kick in the mornings, add some instant coffee powder in the batter.
  • Cut up an extra banana into slices and top the batter with them before you put it in the oven. Or use any other fruit you wish.
  • Put some dessicated coconut in the batter and / or sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before you bake.
  • When I use only 1/2 a scoop of whey protein, I up the cocoa powder to about 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Sometimes after cutting the cake in half lengthwise, I'll cut both halves into smaller pieces (to make about 24 pieces total), and re-bake in the oven on the rack at 200C for 5-10 minutes for deliciously crispy edges but a soft, warm, and chocolaty interior. Like mini cookies! This is probably my favorite thing to do with this cake. A small toaster oven is great for this, and the toasted cake tastes awesome with a glass of milk.
This was the cake I made for James on Valentine's Day.
Nutritional Breakdown
With one egg, one medium sized 105g banana, and 1 full scoop of whey protein:

34 g
11 g
31 g

The banana contributes to the relatively higher carb content. Also, the ripeness of the banana will also impact your cake somewhat. A riper, mushier banana will result in a sweeter and slightly moister cake. You can keep the sweetness and add in some mashed sweet potato if you find the cake is too moist. A less ripe, starchier banana will result in a less sweet cake but perhaps not as moist.

Other notes:
  • I used a glass pan and baked it in a small oven. Around 165 - 175C is what worked for me. Depending on the type of pan you use and your oven, you may have to adjust your temperature. 
  • Again, like my Chai Banana Oat Cookies, depending on how big the banana you're using is, you might end up with a moister cake than you like. If that's the case, just slice it in half lengthwise and pop it back into the oven for about 5-10 more minutes, and it will be perfect. You can also add in some mashed sweet potato. Or use more protein / cocoa powder next time. I actually like these cakes to be more moist if I'm going to put mascarpone / yogurt in the middle and chill in the fridge, they have a wonderful texture to them after chilling. 


  1. This looks amazing! However, I'm not really into using protein powders..any substitute suggestions? Would flax work?

    1. You could use just cocoa powder! I would think ground up flaxseeds would work perfectly, and a great way to get your omega 3's! If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  2. Healthy, delicious and oh so easy to make...This is for keeps. I can have banana cake all year round.

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  4. Made this recipe today and love it! I ate the whole thing for breakfast (what can I say, every day is fat kid day for me). Look forward to making it again.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's one of my favorites :)

  5. Hi may i know how many tbsp of cocoa powder should I use if I am using a vanilla flavoured whey protein?

    1. Hi! Depending on how chocolatey you would like your cake, just substitute equal parts of each. You could do one scoop of vanilla whey protein and 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder, or half a scoop of the vanilla whey protein, half a scoop of cocoa powder + 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder. Just remember, since most whey protein is sweet, the more cocoa powder you substitute for the vanilla whey, the less sweet it will be!

      Let me know how it turns out!!

  6. Great recipe!!!!!!!! thanks heaps.

    1. have also tried some variations that turned out good: orange/poppy seed and apple, pear and cinnamon. with the filling Philadelphia cheese also works quite good.

    2. Matt, I'm glad you like it! All those variations sound great, as well as the cream cheese. The apple with cinnamon would be so delicious, I'll have to try it!

  7. This recipe looks amazing! I'm so happy I found it. :D gonna try this tomorrow for sure!

  8. Thanx for your post. Plzzz tell me wht is the main benifts of FO & WP ..??