Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread Recipe

Certain adventures call for the perfect banana bread, and this was one of them. A moist, ridiculously good banana bread recipe. A banana bread that is chocolate studded, lemon kissed, and made with whole wheat flour (and olive oil) - from Melissa Clark's new book.

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

Certain adventures call for the perfect banana bread, and this was one of them. You can't really know what to expect regarding the weather when someone invites you to a late-October wedding near Monterey, California. A wedding at an off-season summer camp. I thought there was a good chance I'd be wearing Wellies under whatever dress I picked out, sloshing around in puddles. Not the case! The sun was strong, old moss-laced oak trees lent some shade, and the guests swam, shot rifles, barn danced, and drank plenty of bubbles at this multi-day fête. Knowing I couldn't go off to camp without a couple treats in my bag, I wrapped a massive piece of Melissa Clark's Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread in parchment paper and tucked it away for snacking later.
Best Banana Bread Recipe
If you drive south, and then a bit east from Monterey, the landscape changes. It goes from the big horizons, slates and blues of the coast to rolling, golden hills, warmer temperatures, craggy trees, and horse properties. I grew up north of here by an hour, also inland in a similar way. Filled with oak trees, hills, yellow/gold, and hot days that extend into warm nights. The setting of the wedding felt incredibly familiar to me. In a way, those trees, the colors, that sky have always been a part of my life. It was nice. And I suppose it goes without saying, I was happy to have a camera with me to try to capture some moments from the wedding. Plus some shots that share a sense of what I love about this part of California.Best Banana Bread Recipe

A Special Banana Bread

The banana bread - it's amazing. And, if you ask me, best served on a picnic table. There were a couple tiny tweaks I made to Melissa's recipe (it's one of about a dozen recipes I tagged from her new book, Cook This Now). Instead of using a loaf pan, I couldn't resist baking it in the bundt pan I recently picked up in an antique store. And, because I love the flavor combination of lemon and brown sugar, I worked some brown (muscovado) sugar into the icing. The icing sets up firm, and wrapped in paper (and taped or tied), slices won't mess up your purse (or suitcase). The cake is made with a good amount of whole wheat flour, generously chocolate-studded, with a good zing of lemon in the cake itself (and from the icing).
Best Banana Bread Recipe


Best Banana Bread Recipe

Congratulations Oliver & Naya, it was incredibly special to be part of your beautiful celebration - and (!) to finally meet Alana in person. And thank you Melissa, for a recipe I look forward to revisiting regularly. - h

Related post: Glazed Lemon Cake

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Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

4.23 from 27 votes

Melissa's recipe instructs you to coarsely chop the chocolate. My advice? Leave a good amount of sizable chunks of chocolate. They become big, melty, chocolate goldmines streaked throughout the cake. I used a more intricate shaped pan (when compared to a standard loaf tin), and both butter and floured it to help deter sticking.

  • 1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125g all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup / 5 oz / 140g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 85 g sifted dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan, or equivalent.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don't want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you're in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.
  5. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading with a spatula to cover.
  6. Serves 10.

Adapted from Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make, Hyperion, October, 2011

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr
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I made this last night and it turned out deliciously! The lemony glaze is a nice twist on the banana bread. I love sharing your recipes and can't wait to pass this along!


The bread looks ruggedly handsome in the photo and the recipe intrigued me. So I made it for a dinner with friends. The general impression, with which I agree, is that the bread was a little dry (perhaps a loaf pan would have been better than a bundt pan), and although the banana, chocolate, and brown sugar were fine companions, the lemon was not. The lemony flavor was too bright a note for the earthier tastes. I used a real lemon, so perhaps a Meyer lemon would have been more mellow.


I commented a couple of weeks ago that I made the bread and loved it and froze half of it. Well, the frozen half came out of the freezer this week, and I'm here to report that it's just as delicious post-freeze. We wrapped it really well (parchment so the glaze wouldn't stick, plastic wrap and foil!) so I'm sure that helped. I'll definitely be making this again and I might even try some variations. Cheers. :)

Mary Katherine

Mmmm this looks good! I'm an olive oil fiend so this is perfect for me.


Really fabulous! I thought the glaze was weird tasting in the bowl, but perfectly compliments the bread - a little bite of chocolate and then a zing of lemon. I added walnuts to the cake recipe; It begged for them. And I was not disappointed. It was perfectly done at 55 minutes. Love this recipe. I rarely make a recipe twice - too many new ones to try - but this one I will definitely make again. Thank you.


Gorgeous banana cake, the lemon twist is just perfect. Came out of the oven 1 hour ago... 2 slices down... Thank you Heidi :)


I am going to try this recipe soon, thank you! But can I just add chopped walnuts without changing anything else? Thanks!


Hi Heidi! Thank you so much for your response...you were right on target, it WAS my baking soda :( ....Its so easy to overlook the expiration of something like baking soda...thank you once again, I will give it another try this weekend :) Svetlana


Very good bread base, but the lemon icing was not necessary IMO. Too sweet and acidic for my tastebuds. The bread itself was delicious however. Will definitely make it again! Also, It took way longer than 50 minutes for my bread to not be totally raw in the middle. Ended up baking for 1 hr 10 min!


Oh my this is amazing. I have used walnuts instead of chocolate and added a few more spices but it's such a tasty cake - top of the favourites list for me! And that glaze.... well...


Made this last wkend-YUM! Used Oranges bc I didn't have lemons in the house-YUM! Enjoy your blog-YUM!


It's just beautiful!


i forgot to add... i didn't have vanilla but thought what the hey!and added almond in it's place..it worked (i think?) also substituded dark sugar for light brown (my cupboard was bare!|).Anyways, a lovely lipsmackingly good cake so ta! x


This bread turned out ACE!!!!! thanks Heidi for a great website.


Saw the bread post at 2:00 a.m. while perusing blogs. Made the bread at 8:00 a.m. when I got up. I am eating gluten and dairy-free so I had to make some substitutions. My bread turned out great. Its moist and flavorful. Not too lemony. So glad I had trouble sleeping last night. Substitutions: 1/2 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 Tapioca flour, 1/2 oat flour and 1/4 brown rice flour. I did add a heaping teaspoon of xanthan gum. For the yogurt I used soy milk with a teaspoon or so of lemon juice. I will definitely make this again! Thanks.

Carol L Daubenmire

I made this recipe today. I followed the recipe to the letter including using the bundt pan and leaving some larger chunks of chocolate. It is an absolute work of art. Mine looks even better than the one in the picture. Could be that my palatte isn't sophisicated enough but there were too many flavors fighting each other: Lemon, chocolate, vanilla, banana. I would recommend using semi-sweet chocolate rather than bittersweet chocolate.


I made this recipe last week and can I just say it was DIVINE! The lemon icing with the banana bread, lemon zest, with chocolate pieces was a perfect, delectable combination. I baked mine in a bundt pan, it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I will be baking this often!

Kathy B.

I love your recipes - thank you so much! I tried this, but it was a little dense for me. Any suggestions from anyone on how to "lighten it up?" Maybe I should add more banana?


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