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
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I have a very 'green' tasting olive oil that I'm using at the moment, and I wonder what it would be like in this banana bread? A very interesting idea...


was just asked to bring something to a potluck - now i know what!

lynn @ the actor's diet

See that hole in the middle of the bread? I'm about to get inside that hole and freaking dance like a little girl. And then eat the bread.

Bev Weidner

i am absolutely making this this weekend! looks amazing.

laura @ glutton for nourishment

I'm intrigued by the combo of flavors-lemon, banana, and chocolate. The icing looks so good!

la domestique

a monterey native living on the east coast - the color descriptions, magic of that area, all of the changes just driving 10 or 20 will unveil make me very very homesick. great photos and lovely recipe.


It looks and sounds wonderful but I would appreciate any feedback that anyone might be able to provide on which gluten free flours would substitute best for the all-purpose and whole wheat. Thanks.


Thank you for posting this recipe! Usually there are ALWAYS some ripe bananas in my fruit basket. I wonder though - since usually you use nuts often in your recipes, wouldn't some walnuts be a great addition to this recipe? Just a susggestion :)

Joanna | Crock Pot Recipes

This looks great, have you any ideas for a dairy-free yoghurt replacement?


I am not a banana person but I am pretty sure I would love this bread. Chocolate, lemon, icing...yum.


This looks and sounds absolutely fabulous! You also make me want to move to California. I would love more sweet recipes using olive oil. Will look into the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake posted also.

Theresa Nash

I just love these photos and the delightfully squat pumpkin-ish shape of the bundt.


I love this post ! Love the photo's, printed out the recipe, ordered "Cook This Now" and signed up to receive Alana's blog. Very productive. As always thanks for sharing !


I am so, so excited to try this with the lemon-muscovado glaze and "chocolate goldmines". It's my favorite banana bread recipe. Sometimes I use barley flour instead of the whole wheat.


wow, I have to bake it this wekend, these ingredients are just delicious! :)


Your photos from the wedding are beautiful! This cake has many of my favorite flavours, but I've never put banana with lemon before. How yummy!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

wow! what a great bread!

Simply Life

My 3.5 year old and I love to make your recipes, just finished making the chocolate zucchini cupcakes - YUM! Now I know what we're going to do next with my ripe bananas. What I love about your recipes is that everything in them I don't mind my little "sampler" trying - it's so gratifying! Thank-you Heidi! ps. It's snowing outside my window in BC where I live - brrrrr!


Such a beautiful bread! I must try this with a "flax egg" and maybe a coconut milk.

JL goes Vegan

This banana bread looks delicious. I was already hungry when I read this, but now I really want to have a slice of this bread. Can't wait to try it!


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