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I’ve been thinking about Banana Bread lately, mostly due to an assortment of bananas that are taking up valuable real estate in my freezer. Another issue that’s taken up (valuable) space in my brain has been trying to understand the difference between Banana Bread and Banana Cake. I’ve been trying to come up with an explanation but just can’t think of one. Could just be the shape? But we don’t call Carrot Cake baked in a loaf pan Carrot Bread…do we? But no matter. Everyone loves Banana Bread – or whatever you call it.

A number of years ago, during the low fat-era, when I was teaching cooking classes, the schools said that on every post-class survey, when asked what kind of classes people wanted to see on the roster, they invariably said, “Low-fat cooking.” Yet no one ever signed up for them.

During that era, I was doing a demo in Los Angeles, making a batch of my Cranzac Cookies (from Ready for Dessert) which has 1/2 stick (2 ounces, 55g) of butter for thirty cookies. I’m not great at math but that’s probably a piece of butter, the size of a green pea, per cookie. Nevertheless, a woman in the audience shrieked, “Look at all that butter he’s adding!”

That said, I’m not one of those cooks or chefs that gets mad when people are gluten-free, or vegan, or on low-fat diets. To me, those things are challenges. Some recipes can be deliciously modified by swapping out more flavorful ingredients for those you are omitting; polenta or buckwheat flour for wheat flour, turbinado sugar for white sugar, cocoa nibs for chocolate chips, white chocolate for butter, etc. But it does require extra testing since butter, egg yolks, and sugar are in recipes for a reason, which is why when people ask about reducing something in a recipe, I tell them they’d have to play around with the recipe to see if it works.

(If you want recipes that are formulated to be low in sugar, for example, three excellent books as Baking with Less Sugar, Perfect Light Desserts, and The Sweet Spot, all written by very talented bakers.)

This Banana Bread is a recipe that I tested quite a bit, leaning it more toward the healthy side than other Banana Breads. I reduced the butter, used low-fat sour cream, and skipped out on an egg yolk. I also went for roasted cocoa nibs rather than chocolate, since cocoa nibs get right to the chocolate point, rather than chips. But if you put it side-by-side against a traditional Bread Bread, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. In fact, I think it’s even better.

Yet I recently revisited it, testing it a few more times, thinking I could go ahead and add more butter, add that errant egg yolk, and include a few other formerly vilified ingredients, and…nope, I didn’t find it any better, so kept the recipe mostly as is. It just goes to show, that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And this cake, or bread, ain’t broke. (It’s better sliced)

Banana Cake or Banana Bread

Be sure to use very ripe bananas: the skins should have black speckles on them and the bananas should be soft-to-mushy. (Frozen bananas, thawed, make excellent banana bread.) I often add a shot of espresso to the batter, which adds a nice background note of coffee, but it can be omitted. Additions include chocolate chips, roasted cocoa nibs, or toasted nuts. I like pecans or walnuts. If you don't have a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan, this can be baked in a 9-inch (23cm) square cake pan. If baking in a shallow cake pan, the baking time will likely need to be reduced to 40 minutes, or baked until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean of crumbs.
  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250ml) banana puree, made from about 2 very ripe, large bananas
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) sour cream, regular or low-fat, or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon liquid espresso, cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (80g) chocolate chips, 1/4 cup (40g) roasted cocoa nibs, or 2/3 cup (75g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
  • Whisk together in a large bowl, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps. Whisk in the sugar.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the butter, egg white, egg, banana puree, sour cream or buttermilk, vanilla, and espresso, if using.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and use a flexible rubber or silicone spatula to stir in the wet ingredients with a spatula until partially mixed. Add in the chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, or chopped nuts, and fold them in until everything is just combined, but don’t overmix. Stop when any traces of flour disappear.
  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the center feels done. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
  • Cool on a baking rack before removing from the pan and slicing.


Storage: This cake will keep well for 4 or 5 days at room temperature, if well-wrapped, or frozen for up to two months.

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    • Pille

    I’m glad to see that even native-speakers are confused with the cake/bread distinction. Now, can anybody explain the cake/pie/tart distinction to me, please?
    I love banana cakes, and I’ve made a banana-coffee-yogurt-toastedalmonds dessert before, so I’m gonna try your espresso-in-banana-cake tip next time!

      • KittyWrangler

      I’ll take a stab at it. There’s likely no difference between many pies and tarts today, but Americans are much likelier to call something pie than tart. Visitors to the US during the 18th & 19th centuries complained about the sheer number of pies that Americans ate, but in those days pies were often savory, with very thick, closed crusts that preserved the filling inside. As tart-like pies became more common, pies were such a part of American culture that we were more likely to call anything with a crust a “pie” than a “tart.”

        • Maureen

        In rough terms, I’d say a cake is a risen non-yeast sweet made with flour, but without a crust. A pie can have all kinds of fillings—fruit, custard, tomatoes – but has one or two crusts, and bakes in a pie pan/tin/plate that flares out at the edges. I think in the US we think of a tart as having typically only one bottom crust, and low vertical sides to the pan.

          • gfy

          Tarts are thin. Pies are fat. Easy. Cakes are fluffy. Bread is in a loaf shape and usually yeasted. Very simple.

        • BananaBirkLarsen

        In Canada, we sometimes used “tart” to mean miniature pies, often made in muffin tins. Butter tarts would probably be the most famous example, but any tiny pie could be called a tart.

    • Kat

    This looks delicious. I’m gonna say cake is light and fluffy and bread is moist and dense.

      • Katie Mavity

      This what I would say, too. Sometimes I put a little wholemeal bread flour in my banana bread, which makes it heavier. Delighted to see a Lebovitz banana bread and will try asap. Cheers.

      • Garden Goddess

      I agree. In my opinion, a banana cake is light and fluffy, like yellow cake and is usually baked in a round or square tin or sheet pan; and then frosted with a lovely cream cheese frosting.

      A banana bread is heavier, moist and dense, often with lumpy things added (unlike the cake) such as nuts, choco chips or nibs or coconut. It’s not frosted and is baked in a loaf pan.

        • Penny

        Yes, and you can toast it and slather it in butter. I wouldn’t think of toasting or buttering a slice of cake.

          • gfy

          Yessssss. The optimal way to eat banana/zucchini bread is toasted with butter and a good book. sigh….

    • Debbie

    So what do you do with all the bananas that start to go brown….freeze ’em for later? (my forgotten frozen ones from last year have mummified…good “science” project?)

    The trouble with baked goods is that unless you’re Ferran Adria, no matter what you do, you still have to make them from SOMETHING–if not fat, then starches. Unless you make them all with gelatin foams. Or celery. Figuring sugar and flour at about 400-425 cal/cup (125 g) each, I guesstimate your full recipe at about 2000 calories total–not too bad if it serves more than 10, but not the diet food of the century.

    The “healthy muffins” probably
    used a lot of sugar syrup or glucose to compensate for the fat and keep the moisture in. They could have subbed in applesauce for most of that…but that’s too easy…

      • Jessica

      Peel and put in a ziploc bag before you freeze and they will store fine in the freezer.

      • gfy


    • Maaike

    Coincidence? On the 24th of September I wrote something about banana cake on my foodblog (in Dutch).

    And I concluded the banana cake I made is something in between cake and bread. It was Clotilde’s banana pecan cake. I’m very fond of it.

    • Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    Hm…cake and bread. Two different pans :) That would be my distinction. Actually…more the consistency of the final product would be the determinant for me, but they are pretty much the same! :)

    • dinazad

    Like Pille, I’m glad to see that the confusion concerning bread/cake affects native-speakers as well. How about the muffin/cupcake question? I have yet to find out the difference….

    I’m not overly fond of banana cakes, but I’ll definitely try the combination with espresso – it might make me a convert!

    • Michele

    You are too cute that you would buy all that stuff when you have one leftover egg white. Banana bread/cake/muffin–whatever–I love the smell of bananas baking in the oven.. If someone could invent a room spray that would smell like that… Oy.

    • David

    hi Debbie: Those 3 slices shown represent about 1/15th of the cake, so by those calculations, it’s hovering just over 100 calories. Which I think would be fine by most diet standards.

    Except I ate the rest of the cake as well!

    (I freeze banana pulp in 1 cup containers. I get what you mean about freezing whole bananas, they get really goopy and are hard to peel.)

      • Leslie

      I peel the banana, wrap them in plastic wrap, and then place them in ziplock bags to freeze. Before using in a banana bread recipe, I defrost them. If you follow the Cooks Illustrated method, you would then strain the bananas and reduce the resulting liquid before incorporating with the cake.

      Otherwise, I use the frozen bananas in smoothies.

    • Abra

    I think of banana cake as being made with butter and banana bread with oil. And I think of cupcakes as being fine-grained and dense and made with butter, but muffins as having a coarser texture and possibly relying on oil or yogurt or even sour cream for their fat content. Ok, shoot me.

    • nyc/caribbean ragazza

    I think of Banana bread as a loaf and having heavier consistency. Banana cake is lighter. I love them both which is unfortunate for my waistline.

    • Cat

    Thanks a lot for converting ingredients in grams ;) I thought that Banana bread was more sticky than Banana cake and the consistency more “wet” (sorry for my English). Whatever, I like baked bananas (with cinnamon, mmh !)

    • Jeremy

    David, are you going to the donut factory? See you sunday!


    • La R�veuse

    It’s all about the alliteration.

    Banana Bread.

    Chocolate Cake.

    Pound Puppies.


    • N R

    This is outrageously Off Topic.

    I’ve just enter Culinary School and the other day the Food Chemistry teacher was talking about invert sugar in ice creams.

    Have you had any experiemce with using invert sugar in ice creams? How does it affect flavor and texture?



    • Jill

    If you think that’s a hard distiction, try explaining the definition of “salad”. Add in German hot potato salads and it becomes impossible.

    Are you familiar with Alton Brown? His definition is that a muffin is barely mixed, leaving a coarse, uneven texture. Quick breads, like banana bread, are similar to muffins. Cakes and cupcakes have well creamed butter and a tender, even crumb. He talks about this at length in “I’m Just Here for More Food”.

    • David

    Sorry everyone, but I’m not convinced…

    Jill: My argument with Alton’s definition is that Carrot Cake is made with oil, not creamed butter (at least I’ve never seen a recipe like that.) And since you’ve got me riled up : ), Black-Bottom Cupcakes and Devil’s Food Cake often have oil instead of creamed butter too.

    Sara: Yes, but that still doesn’t explain Pound Cake. Nice try!

    La Rêveuse: Hmm…will take that point into consideration…

    nyc: I think this version is a bit easier on that, unless you make it twice—and eat them both!

    NR: If you use invert sugar, like trimoline, glucose, or corn syrup, the texture will be less-icy and smoother, but all of those have kind of a ‘gunky’ taste that I don’t care for. If you were using them, you could substitute a portion (say…one-quarter) of the amount of sugar. Since people can’t easily get most of them, except corn syrup (which everyone is suspicious of these days), I don’t use them.

    I do make honey ice cream, which is lovely and smooth.

    (Be aware that invert sugars, by volume, are sweeter than sucrose so the amount should be reduced by 25%.)

    • pinknest

    i think it’s just a matter of mood. you say bread when you’re feeling healthy. and when you want to eat it for breakfast. you say cake when you’re feeling decadent. and want it as a dessert. or in bed. or somesuch goodness.

    • flavia


    I am having difficulty picturing it…..

    • AnotherCatherine

    Weird, I’ve had the same conversation with someone recently, when describing the banana *bread* recipe I’ve been using for years. It’s much less healthy than yours and has rum infused raisins in it – so I have no idea why it’s still a bread, not a cake, apart from two things – one, it’s absolutely delicious hot straight from the oven (umm, wouldn’t that make it a pudding?), and two, it’s one of those things like malt loaf which people like to spread generous amounts of butter on, whether hot or cold and despite how moist it is on its own. The same applied when I used chocolate chips instead of raisins.

    • AnotherCatherinee

    Oh, and sorry to spam, but talking of muffins, when did American muffins become muffins, as opposed to cupcakes? And why did they (if they did) take this name from the English muffin – which is just a kind of roll which is fried instead of baked?

    • David


    Hold it right there. What’s this ‘Malt Loaf‘? Now that’s something that sounds fabulous, with or even without generous amounts of butter smeared on it.

    I Googled it and found a recipe which is going right into my ‘to make’ list when I get a minute. Now I know what to do with that can of treacle!

    (And Flavia, the pretzel croissant is a-m-a-z-i-n-g…it even has it’s own web site…)

    • Candice

    I think pinknest has it. You say bread (or muffin) when you want to eat it for breakfast or pretend it is healthy. You say cake (or cupcake) when you want dessert/something decadent.

    • Alisa

    After I got over giggling how funny you are, I came to these conclusions:

    There is a definite difference between banana cake and banana bread.
    From the age of 3 to…well for a good long time, I requested that my mother make me banana cake for my birthdays. She used sour cream. This many years of experience has got to be good for something. Anyway…..To me banana cake is lighter (not necessarily in calories, but in texture and in color). Banana bread is more dense and not as sweet as B. cake. The stuff you generously shared with me was B. cake according to my own standards of judgment.

    Next time I am at your house, I am so checking behind your fridge.

    • Mark

    “Deceptive baked-good”? All are very nice words in-and-of-themselves…who is actually deceived? I never have been, even when they try to ‘health’ them up with Bran…I say, go all the way with Banana and chocolate.

    Too funny what a little language ‘memory-loss’ can do..

    • Keri

    Cupcakes have icing; muffins don’t. Does that work?

    (Yes, I am sidestepping the cake/bread conundrum.)

    • Steve

    I agree with Keri–cupcakes have frosting.

    How many readers clean behind their refrigerators? Are people supposed to do that? If so, I have failed.

    • AnotherCatherine

    The Delia malt loaf is good, but the yeastless Gary Rhodes one is my favourite: Recipe here

    …because it tastes like the Soreen one I was brought up on – really chewy texture. I think that if I was to make the Delia one I’d still soak the fruit in hot tea first.

    • Mike

    There also is a cultural difference in the use of cake vs bread. When I was living in Britain, I remember hearing what we in the US would call zucchini bread referred to as a courgette cake…

      • Gavrielle

      That’s right: as a British-born New Zealander I’d call it banana cake or banana loaf. Banana bread is a US term to my ears.

      David, I didn’t think there was anything left to do to banana cake, but I am awed by your idea of adding espresso and cocoa nibs. Can’t wait to give it a go.

    • Hillary

    I have to agree with Alisa.

    Speaking on the end result of banana bread and banana cake, the bread is always darker in color and more dense in texture. I associate banana bread with some gooey uncooked parts and some dry parts (of course you can overcook it but that’s how it should be), while cake seems consistent and dry throughout. I know this is no technical distinction, as I’m not sure what ingredients are used in each to distinguish them, but from the looks of it along, I would classify your fantastic creation as a…

    banana cake.

    • Leah

    David, I just split the difference and call it… Banana Cakebread!

    • lynh

    I am intrigued by the malt bread recipe. Hopefully that will be the next post, and you can tell me where you can find sultanas, malt extract, and treacle, which until now I thought was a J.K. Rowling invention, much like polyjuice potion. (sorry if my dorkiness overwhelms)

    Also, I am going to NY this weekend, so thanks for telling me about City Bakery! their website is chouette.

    PS Shameless plug for David’s book The Great Book of Chocolate- his chocolate chip cookies, which I made this weekend, because I had flour to use up (I laughed, because I relate to being sad about a leftover egg white too), were so simple and delightful.

    and the Banana Cakebread (kudos Leah) sounds good.

    • bleep

    funny, because i just made that banana loaf cake (“loaf cake”?) with nick m’s recipe which you posted a while back (which turned out a little too dry and rubbery after it cooled, unfortunately) in a round cake pan. and when i was giving a slice to my colleague yesterday couldn’t decide what to call it because to me it looked more like a slice of bread.

    anyway, i love malt loaves. it reminds me of …england.

    • Rasa Malaysia

    What a coincidence. I have just made some banana nut muffins…be it banana bread, banana cake, or banana muffin, I am nuts for bananas. :)

    • David

    Rasa Malaysia: They sound suspiciously like Banana Cupcakes to me…

    • dddg

    One of my friends just calls them “mufcakes.”

    • Terrie

    I’d have to agree with Alisa too, the banana cake I make has sour cream in it, butter instead of oil that I’d use in banana bread, and it feels lighter than banana bread (ha). Lots of chocolate icing helps to make the distinction too.

    • katie

    breads are denser while cakes are cakier? consistency is always the key :) in my world, breads aren’t sweet while cakes go all for the sweetness. on a side note, i read your write-up on Jean-Charles Rochoux a while back which inspired me to visit his shop and have a chat with him. I am now doing a stage there and love it! thanks for the initial inspiration!

    • Amy Sherman

    I always thought a cake had more eggs and that banana bread was called that because it is technically a “quick bread” which means baking powder, baking soda or both are used for leavening. But what the hell do I know? You’re the pastry chef.

    • Ido

    It is very simple actually.

    If you don’t have banana bread, eat banana cake!

    • Jill

    oooh, that recipe sounds delightful :)
    especially the shot of espresso! i used to work in an office that had a coffee bar just for employees. we requested that the baristas make a special drink for us that consisted of coffee, ice, milk, chocolate powder and banana. it was a terrific breakfast shake!

    also, while you are in NYC, check out kossar’s bialy’s, a few blocks from katz’s. the best!

    • Jane

    Banana cake is CAKE and it has frosting between the layers. You know the difference between carrot cake and zucchini bread?

    Enough said.

    • Jerry

    Perfect timing – I have some bananas rotting away just waiting to be turned into banana cake!

    • Jessica “Su Good Eats”

    Hmm, Jamie Oliver has a recipe for real banana bread on his site (with yeast). I made it with whole wheat flour, and it didn’t turn out. Next time I’ll actually follow the directions.

    I also have a recipe for a real banana cake with creamed butter.

    You could make the same argument about zucchini bread. There’s also zucchini cake, which is the same recipe made in a round pan.

    Maybe they call it pound cake because there’s no way you can say it’s “healthy,” with all that butter in there.

    • David

    Not so fast, Jane!

    Here’s a recipe for Zucchini Cake, but there’s no frosting between the layers!

    But it looks like a cake to me : )

    • Linda

    To me banana bread is baked in a loaf pan and is dense and moist. Banana cake is lighter, baked in cake pans and frosted. I love both. My husband hates bananas unfortunately and I can’t remember the last time I had either.

    • Val

    For me, cake is all about frosting. If you call it cake and there is no frosting…well, its not quite cake. Similarly, a muffin is not the same a s a cupcake because there is no frosting.

    Now, I am admittedly quite a frosting nut. Cake often just being a frosting vehicle.

    Caramel nut frosting on banana cake. Yum!!!

    • Lesley

    I love banana bread, I make variations of it all the time, and you’re right, it’s cake disguised as bread and put in a loaf pan. Mine is full of butter though, I think I’ll experiment with yours! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Aaron

    Technically speaking the difference between cake and bread is crumb structure. The extended creaming (or foaming depending on type) process for cakes gives the product a very small and uniform dispersal of air pockets and a light crumb. In contrast, quick breads have more limited creaming, or, as in your recipe, none at all. Thus, your cake is leavened chemically and has uneven air pockets and a more toothsome quality.
    A lot of muffins nowadays are actually cupcakes, as muffins are technically supposed to be small quickbreads.
    Yes, I’m a nerd and this is the stuff I read about for fun :)

    • Connie

    No bialy’s in Paris, nor in Houston an I am a bialy nut so there is only one thing to do bake them myself and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven bialy.

    And you don’t have to worry about calling it a muffin or a cake or a bread. Just eat it!

    Have fun in NY

    • good enough cook

    I’m coming late to this discussion, but I’ll add a distinction that may be relevant: these “breads” often seem to be based around leftovers or ingredients that one is trying to use up: overripe bananas, excess zucchini from the garden, the pumpkin or cranberries that weren’t needed for the pie or sauce… “Cake” on the other hand, seems to involve ingredients that were bought just for the purpose of making the baked good in question. That said, it would clearly be worth investing in a few bananas to make David’s cake, even if we call it bread.

    • Amy

    Peel the bananas before you freeze them. Keep adding to zipper bag until you’re ready to bake bread/cake. Seems like most of my recipes call for a number of bananas, mashed. As opposed to a volume of mashed bananas.

    • David

    good enough cook: In spite of Aarons descriptors, call me crazy, but for some reason you description makes the most sense….

    • claire

    To me, ‘bread’ in banana bread is an abbreviation of ‘quickbread’, under which catagory muffins also fall.

    They are both made with quick and simple mixing styles: muffins are made by combining the wet and the dry ingredients and then roughly combining; they are leavened with chemical leaveners rather than sponge cakes which are traditionally leavened by whisking air into the batter (even if we cheat sometimes these days!).

    Banana bread is also traditionally made this way (my favourite recipe, which is far from healthy, involves putting everything into one bowl and mixing until smooth! And people used to order this for breakfast, too, probably telling themselves it was healthy…). People might now make versions which involve creaming the butter and the sugar, for example, but while the method has evolved the name has stuck, perhaps for alliterative purposes, as mentioned above…

    • Maureen

    I just made banana muffins for my kids this afternoon – full of chocolate and nuts and there is nothing cake like or light about them (the muffins, not the kids ; ) ). They are heavy and moist and delicious. I even give them a nice sugary crust on top. The perfect afternoon snack on a rainy day.

    I am going to try your recipe though David, lets see how it goes with my little gourmands.

    I spent this whole summer in NY and I am so excited for you. Of course I didn’t get to spend too many evenings enjoying fun restaurants and clubs. NY in fall is fab so enjoy the sun cause you aren’t getting anymore here in Paris.

    BTW – Aaron – who ever you are, you turn me on! I love it when you talk about uniform air pockets, I am a geek for this stuff too. David, of course I am also way into you too!

    • Ms. Glaze

    Yummmmmm!!! And when you’re done eating the whole pan you can join my challenge and work ’em off. LOL!

    • Linda H

    Make divinity candy from the egg whites and bananas foster from the bananas, and while you have the liquor bottles out for the bananas foster, have a shot or two.

    • Miss Sassy

    Cake, bread – who cares? Just pour me a glass of milk and I’m in. Thanks for the recipe – I have a nice set of bananas I hate to go to waste.

    • farmgirl susan

    LOL, there’s nothing like getting caught up reading a zillion comments regarding banana bread vs. banana cake at 5am! Loved your post, and your banana whatever looks good, though I have to admit that, while I’ll rearrange an entire day just to deal with some Ready To Use NOW bananas, I never save egg whites. In fact, if I were to make your recipe, I’d just toss in two whole eggs. ; )

    Growing up we always called what my mom baked in a loaf pan banana bread. Now that I make my banana b baked good in a 9×13 pan and smother it with cream cheese frosting, I figure I’d better call it cake.

    As for that whole muffin thing. . . I look at recipes and can’t believe they have the nerve to call them muffins–they’re cupcakes through and through! Don’t get me wrong, I love cupcakes at least as much as the next sweet freak, and I love muffins, too, but I think some people are in serious denial about what they’re actually baking. : )

    Rats. Now I want a cupcake. And all I have around are carrot raisin zucchini bran muffins. Hey, there’s a term you never hear: Bran Cakes! I think there’s a good reason for that.

    • Lyra

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but my favorite muffin recipes only use about 1/4 cup of oil and a couple tablespoons of sweetener-the focus is on other ingredients, like oats or raisins, spices, carrots or bananas.

    These muffins are about 170 calories apiece-nothing like those 500 plus calorie monstrosities that you can buy at cafes here in the USA. They taste great, but they most definitely are NOT cake, or cupcakes-regardless of what pan you baked them in.

    • izzy’s mama

    I made the recipe in loaf pans..definitely bread: post here

    • Eliz.

    Looks wonderful! How does one adjust for the shot of espresso? Just a little more flour? Thanks!

    • David

    Eliz: Just add it in and don’t worry. Go for it—Live on the wild side! (And enjoy…)

    • Estelle

    Hello David,
    I just placed your Banana Cake/Bread. I have to say that it is a breeze to put together and the batter tasted divine. I’m sure it’s going to be great. I’m curious, do you use pre-cut pieces of parchment or do you trace and cut as I do? Also, when you said this cake can be baked in a loaf pan, what size would be best? Or doesn’t it matter that much?
    I loved the almost healthy ingredients in here and I’m giving it as a love offering to my daughter tomorrow who is on a diet. Hey, one hundred calories is not bad at all.
    Thanks for your lively and interesting blog. You do attract some very interesting people and I thoroughly enjoy stopping by.

    • signe

    Frozen bananas are a good basis for smoothies. Peel the ripe bananas and put them in a big zip-lock bag. Then put a couple of frozen bananas in a blender, add any other fruit, like berries, and a little orange juice, blend it and you have a great cold smoothie that doesn’t have any ice in it. Simple and refreshing!

    • missvirtuality

    Thanks for this recipe David. I baked banana bread this weekend (I made sure to buy extra bananas so I can have extra that I HAD to get rid off..hehe)

    Next time, I might use brown sugar instead. Would I need to add more flour?

    • Katelyn

    Oh YEAH! bananas, chocolate and espresso– I forgot about that possibility. Now I have some great ideas for that banana rum that’s been sitting unwanted on the top of my fridge for months. Thanks for the brain spark!

    • Anonymous

    Would adding instant espresso powder such as Medaglia D’Oro to the Banana Cake/Bread recipe work? If yes, how much? Thanks.

    • MB

    I would imagine that it is called banana “bread” because of it’s loaf shape, although in France all loaf-shaped “cakes” are called just that : Cake. And as someone else posted, I have seen recipes for banana cake and they are round, filled and iced. Since we often have ripe bananas lying around (tennis) I often make “cake aux bananes”, or banana bread, lol. BTW, ripe bananas are delicious sauteed in butter and brown sugar, flamed or not with rum… ;)

    • Dolores

    Oh…these seem to have a beeeeeeautiful crumb. How creative to add cocoa nibs! I’ve been putting them (nibs) in everything these days…they’re perfect in banana bread.

    Your blog is inspiring!! David, you were given wonderful gifts and talent….thank you for sharing your knowledge, time and recipes. (Responding to your posters takes alot of your valuable time. How nice of you!!)


    • Lindsay

    I’ve made this several times now and I’ve found it just gets better the next day! It’s really delicious and so easy to put together.

    • Pia

    This looks fantastic. I love what a bit of sour cream does to a banana bread recipe. If I’m out I find an equal amount of full fat natural yogurt (not Greek as it’s too thick) works brilliantly.

    My daughter has a severe autoimmune disease, and is gluten, diary, & egg free. I like the mindset of baking without traditional ingredients as a challenge, & as an opportunity to broaden your flavour horizons. I wish more chefs in my neighbourhood had that attitude.

    Alos, I love spreading butter on toatsed banana bread, but a great alternative is coconut oil. Amazing.

    • Natalie

    I love banana bread and this one particularly looks and sounds so moist I simply have to give this recipe a try soon!

    • Linda O’Neill

    I’m sorry, but being A New Englander I insist that there is a decided difference between banana bread and banana cake. I make a banana sheet cake at least once a year and finish it with cream cheese frosting and walnuts. It is light and fluffy, distinctly different from the denseness of a banana bread loaf. You could get away with serving it as a birthday cake, especially with a scoop of maple walnut ice cream. You would be hard pressed to stick a candle in a slice of banana bread and satisfy 6-year olds at a birthday party. But both are delicious and are useful for dispensing with brown bananas.

    • Bernadette

    David, this looks fantastic! Going right on my list and in the oven once it cools down a bit here in NJ to bake again. That crust looks phenomenal.

    As for the woman who yelled about the butter, she is sorely lacking!

    • Tracy

    I have made this cake many times since you first posted the recipe. My old boss loves it and I still try to make it for her birthday each year. Now my kids enjoy it too.
    Thank you for a great recipe that will use up the overripe bananas!

    • Kit

    Mmm…this is similar to my brother’s recipe I’ve been making forever… but will now try with espresso. Brilliant!

    This bread is delicious sliced a little thicker a day later and frying in an iron skillet in a little butter forming a crisp exterior.

    • Tim

    I have this theory regarding using over-ripe bananas for banana bread. I believe it was started during the depression when American housewives were getting their first hands on bananas here and they didn’t want to throw anything away. I think using a perfectly ripe one is best by that I mean totally yellow, no green, and starting to freckle. When I see people using literally rotten bananas I cringe. I base this theory on the way bananas ripen, which is of course the starch in the banana turning to sugar. I have always wanted to bake two side by side to see what the difference is in texture and flavor. Until then I probably stand alone on this one. My favorite addition to banana bread is some well drained crushed canned pineapple, pecans and dried apricots. My grandma would no doubt disapprove.

    • Jeannine

    Which flour to use in France for US recipes, please? Or purchase Gold Medal in the Marais at Thanksgiving?
    Or how to adapt French flour to US recipes? I’ve failed in Greece and UK!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Jeannine,

      Check out my post: Ingredients for American Baking in Paris which lists which flour that I use in France. (btw: I read that Thanksgiving closed their store recently!)

    • meg

    Banana cake is light and fluffy,tastes less like banana and has icing and is round. Bread is moist heavy and in a loaf.
    My go to is Kona Banana bread from Fannie Farmer Baking. Lots more butter, no milk more banana and more sugar.
    BTW, has anyone mentioned that you list one egg twice? That’s confusing and will definitely change the bread.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Meg, The recipe uses one egg and one egg white. I didn’t where it called for eggs in two different places, but let me know where it is if I missed it, so I can correct.

    • Marcia in NJ

    My M.O. is pretty basic. When bananas on the counter start to turn black I peel them, stuff them into a good freezer bag, and stick them in the freezer. When I want some for baking I haul out the scale, dump a frozen lump on a cutting board, and hack away until I have the desired amount. The rest returns to the freezer. Works for me! (I suppose that if I had a professional freezer, the lump would be too hard for this.)

    As for cake versus bread: it’s not the shape, I think, but the texture–dense versus light. Is it dense and firm and easy to slice? It’s bread. Does it say “Breakfast” or “Dessert”? How would it be with fudge frosting?

    • Jane Sherwin

    “Mash bananas with silver fork” is how my grandmother’s recipe begins. She was born in 1898. No butter or oil. Two eggs the only fat. I’ve modified it with less sugar and salt, and white whole wheat flour. To mashed bananas add 2 eggs beaten light, 1/2 cup sugar. Mix1 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt into 1 cup white whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts if you like. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Very simple, disappears fast, freezes well, and works well with frozen bananas.

      • Margaret

      How many bananas do you use?

    • Cynthia Cimino

    okay…banana bread is delish but it’s dense – there’s no getting past it. it’s hearty enough to hold up to a smear of cream cheese, which to my thinking is one step over the line but some people like it that way. your recipe is lovely and for a bread it’s light but still – it’s bread.

    banana cake is lighter. if it’s done right, it has bits of lemon zest, which is perceived as even lighter. rose b. levy’s recipe is really smart. again, weight wise, it’s probably not much different because there’s the sour cream and butter and all that – but the perception, the mouth feel is cake. and then you put on the ganache and maybe give it a shot of rich light lemon butter cream between the layers.

    • Jane Sherwin

    Oops meant to say add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg to my grandmother’s recipe.

    • Michael Tyler

    Thank you David for all your great posts. Makes me feel like I’m in Paris. Terrific

    • Rob

    Banana bread can be sliced & buttered, but I wouldn’t do that to banana cake…

    • Anne Epstein

    Has anyone ever tried Banana Brownies?

    • Gigi

    I’m looking for a moist, dense, “fudgy”, very bananay banana bread. Which doesn’t probably make sense because I don’t want chocolate in it. I just lack the vocabulary to adequately express the moisture and texture I’m looking for except to say it would resemble fudgy-style brownie instead of a cakey-style brownie. I don’t like chocolate chips and can’t have nuts, so I’m wondering if they can be omitted without risking the outcome? Sorry if this is a dumb question. I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination and haven’t had the banana bread of my dreams. :) Maybe this is the recipe?

      • aqua6

      You can definitely leave the chocolate and nuts out. I don’t like either in banana bread. I do add shredded coconut sometimes and that is a nice flavor. Or make it in muffin tins for a clear serving size.

    • Nita

    I believe a pie has a pastry or mashed potato-type topping to cover the filling, whereas a tart is made in a pastry case but the filling is gloriously on show

    • Margaret

    I use Melissa Clark’s Pumpkin bread with brown butter and bourbon recipe, but I substitute bananas for the pumpkin and dark rum for the bourbon (it’s what I had on hand). Family and friends rave about it.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not made Melissa’s cake but you might like this Sweet Potato – Apricot Cake, if you like pumpkin. It’s delicious!

        • Margaret

        Thank you, must try this and I love cream cheese frosting.

    • Sharyn Dimmick

    In my opinion, the difference between banana bread and banana cake is that banana cake has frosting or icing, either as a topping or between layers.

    • Carole Baker

    Thank you, David for a new take on Banana Bread. Up until now, my “go to” recipe is Jane Grigson’s recipe for Banana Bread from her Fruit Book. It is fantastic. I like to add sour cherries to Banana Bread.

    • Alexa

    Ooh! Was planning to make banana bread this weekend and I think I’ll try this recipe. Quite a bit less butter than my usual recipe.
    Two questions: can you use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? I often have, with good results
    2) where to get nibs? We live in chocolate paradise (zurich), but oddly I haven’t seen them. I knew where to buy them in Brooklyn. Any advice?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Greek yogurt can vary in consistency. Sometimes it’s like wallpaper paste (like some of the brands in the U.S.) and some are fine. If you have one that’s creamy and as thick as sour cream, you could use that. Or you could thin it with milk.

      I don’t know where to get things in Switzerland, like cocoa nibs, but you could try searching for grué de cacao (cocoa nibs, in French). I did a quick search and this site came up that sells them. You can use my tips in my post, How to Find Foods Online to find other sources, or check a restaurant supply shop; Valrhona sells them in kilo bags, which are more cost-efficient. (I get them in Paris at G. Detou.)

    • Helen S. Fletcher

    Having baked professionally for 30 years, I agree that banana bread and banana cake were almost the same. However, we made a “Fruit Basket Cake” with a banana cake I worked on for a while to lighten it. You can find it at Often fruit and vegetable cakes (think carrot) are heavy. Not to say they aren’t good however.

    Flo Braker also has a great banana Banana Chiffon and Banana Sheet which are much lighter than traditional banana cakes.

    • Rachael

    This makes the most delicious layer cake when paired with a coffee buttercream. I doubled it & used 2 9-inch cake pans. The layers are substantial enough that they can be torted. More frosting! :)

    • Katherine Keeley

    Sounds fantastic! Thank you, David!!! Will try.

    • m

    I apologize if this has already been asked, but there are over 100 comments and replies and I don’t have time to read through them all. Is it possible to sub yogurt for the sour cream and get the same results? Thank you in advance.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, you can use plain yogurt. I recommend full-fat yogurt for best results.

    • Susan

    Cake vs bread; cake has the addition of baking powder and more liquid to create the steam for rising. Plus it’s beaten more to develop more gluten. That’s my guess..
    This BB is very much like the recipe I use..Mine uses 1/4 cup buttermilk (1% fat) and 1/2 cup melted butter (half oil if you want)..where your recipe uses more sour cream and less butter.. so that’s the only difference in the fat that I can see. Pretty hard to screw up banana bread if the bananas are ripe enough!

    • Lorraine

    In South Africa we called it ‘banana loaf’ so I’m wondering if the shape of the loaf or the bread shape, as others have mentioned, isn’t the deciding factor. In the absence of any other evidence, I’m sticking with this!

    • karen

    Loaf, cake or bread–I’m looking forward to having some! BTW, has just named The Sweet Life in Paris a great travel read. I’d add that it is a great read if you’re only staying home, too.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for letting me know. A lot of people really like that book : )
      If you liked that book, the “sequel” (in a way…) is L’appart, which is the next chapter of my life in Paris.

    • John

    I made this lovely cake tonight with a mixture of old frozen bananas and one ripe fresh one. Terrific recipe. I added some raisins, but maybe because of that it was a bit too sweet. Next time I’ll use some whole wheat but may have to add a bit more fat. My new favorite!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you liked the cake!

    • timothy bourne

    IF you like more banana flavor you can microwave the bananas for a few minutes. The bananas then will put out all the water.

    Then take the water and reduce, cool. Add it back in.

    This makes it WAY more banana.

    • Daren Ann

    Howdy David, We are studying your blogs for our upcoming trip to Paris. My husband gave me your My Paris Kitchen book for Christmas. I have been fortunate to have sold some of my art so that we can visit Paris and Normandy. We plan on eating our way through France in September. Thank you for all of your tips and write-ups so that we can pick out 4 restaurants in the city.

    • Rachel

    David, I just made this with yoghurt and dark choc chips and it was AMAZING. Much better than our usual recipe and using such a small quantity of butter makes me feel so ‘earth mothery’ about giving it to small people. And big people. And everyone in-between. Thank you for a brilliant recipe.

    • Stacy

    Tip – using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream works! I just tried it because I didn’t have sour cream. It’s fewer calories and the whole recipe was delicious. Thank you, David!!


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