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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Heidi, FINALLY, a breakfast loaf that doesn't call for 2 cups of sugar! Thank you this looks delicious!


This bread looks fabulous. It will be a great treat for our hiking club. BUT what really inspired me to comment is I love the ping pong picture from the wedding! That golden ring is so fresh and new and hopeful. So romantic.

Pat G

WOWZER... this... looks... AMAZING!! Looks like I know what I'll be making tomorrow :o)


This looks scrumptious! As always the pictures look stunning and love the way you write.


Anyone have a vegan version of this?


To fellow vegans out there -please post your subs and results.


Beautiful Heidi! Is that bundt pan ceramic? It appears to be. I have a ceramic one from Germany I bought on our honeymoon in 1983. Thanks for the inspiring recipe; I will be trying it just as soon as I can darken some bananas.


The bread is baking in the oven right now, but I have a question. The batter seemed really dry when combining wet and dry ingredients, and I ended up adding more yogurt. Could this dryness be the result of not ripe enough bananas? My bananas were just browning, but not very yucky yet. Thanks for the recipe!


You are so right about the weather. I'm in Pacific Grove, and it would seem our summer finally arrived a few weeks ago. The forecast is for cooler, wetter days soon, so I'm getting out to enjoy this bliss while it's available. I've been working on banana cornmeal bread and muffin recipes recently - wonderful with added pecans, cranberry or chopped dried apricot. Oh, and back to the area: did you see the Monarch Butterflies? On warm days they have been out in droves. I've counted as many as 35 at a time sipping the nectar of our Pride of Madera flowers. As the weather cools they'll be back in clusters in the sanctuary, but for now their out and about. Really a lovely time of the year.


your banana bread looks to die for. since i'm lactose intolerant, do you think i can replace the yoghurt with soy yoghurt? i know it'll change the flavour a bit...


Ooop-- saw that you responded to someone else with basically the same question. Thanks!


Heidi -- I love the pan you used. Reminds me of a kuglehopf pan, but flat on the bottom. Is that smaller than a regular bundt pan (ie., fits the same amt of batter as a 9x5 loaf)? I like using a bundt style pan for quickbreads -- more edges!! Usually, tho, I find I have to increase the recipe.


Banana bread!!


It's not even 9am here in England.I've not even had my breakfast....but what I do want right now is that banana bread... It sounds divine ..but i have no bananas in the house.That will be remedied as soon as possible. But Heidi....you've just put me off the boiled egg and soldiers I was just about to prepare....now all I can think about is that bloody banana bread!


This looks delicious! And I love the bundt pan idea. Question- did you increase (double?) the recipe for the bundt pan? Or just use the same amount? Can't wait to try the recipe!!
HS: Same amount Kris - my bundt pan isn't particularly large though. I don't know how many cups offhand, but it's a solid "medium"...


Your photos are really awesome and I really enjoyed the narrative that accompanied the recipe. The combination of photos, narrative, a different twist on banana bread, even the font you chose for your headings made the whole piece sumptuous. I can't help but make the recipe. Thanks!


Mmm, looks delicious. Would be great with a cup of coffee.

Andrea @ Roadhouse Roast

so nice


This looks sooo good. I just have some very ripe bananas and now I know what to do with them! Great recipe, hope I'll be good enough to make it right! Peace Mike

Mike @TheIronYou

We'll try this as soon as we get back from India (February!) and get an oven back again. I think that's the one thing I miss the most here - that and proper bread (naturally related)

yogi kitchen

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