Banana Bread, Revisited

April 24, 2014Recipe Development

Even a favorite 20-year-old banana bread recipe is ripe for some updates.

(UPDATED 9/10/23) Jump to Recipe

I picked up some bananas for a staff snack during a photo shoot the other week. And as I grabbed a bunch at the store, I thought, “Well, if these aren’t eaten, I know where they’ll go.” In fact, I counted on them being ignored so they could ripen over the next few days and I could snag them for a loaf of this Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread from the Cooking Light archives. It’s both pretty to look at and pretty darned good to eat.

Tahini Zucchini Bread with Golden Raisins & Almonds >>

Banana Bread Update

It’s a recipe I remembered fondly from my days at the magazine, though my approach to it, like so many other things, has evolved over time.

The original version, now 20 years old, calls for egg substitute. I now just use real eggs. When I first revisited the recipe in 2014, I used ghee instead of regular butter for added richness. The chocolate I use these days is still always dark, and I still sub a cup of whole-wheat pastry flour for half the all-purpose flour to add a bit of fiber. Oh, yeah, and I couldn’t resist tossing in a handful of chopped walnuts. (As part of the evolution of the recipe, I’m calling my version “Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread.”)

For my latest update, as of September 2023, I’ve returned to calling for regular butter but browning it in a saucepan. This small step adds an extra boost of nutty flavor that serves this banana bread well.

Browned butter also amps up the flavor of this Apple and Walnut Cake  with Golden Raisins >>

So a lot has changed, and a lot hasn’t. Despite my tweaks, the spirit of this banana bread is the same. And that’s just the way a solid recipe should work. At the very least, it’s a reliable guideline so most readers can achieve a consistent outcome. Great recipes—I’m thinking of those written by Julia Child or Nigel Slater—are also works of literary expression that advance a lively, ongoing conversation.

What makes a recipe “perfect”?

Recipe Notes

  • I use a combo of all-purpose and whole-wheat pastry flour, but you can use just all-purpose, if you prefer.
  • Substitute an equal amount of sour cream for the yogurt.
  • Try chopped toasted almonds or hazelnuts in place of the walnuts.

Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1 small saucepan
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 loaf pan (9 x 5 inches)


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • Cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2-3 minutes or until butter is light brown and smells nutty. Keep a close eye on the butter as it cooks—it can go from just right to burned in seconds. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk sugar and melted butter until well blended. Stir in banana, yogurt, and eggs. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Stir in walnuts.
  • In a small bowl, combine 1 cup batter and chocolate. Spoon plain batter alternately with chocolate batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife (voila—it’s marbled!). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack; remove from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Keyword dessert


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