Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chocolate Chip Vegan Banana Bread (with a secret ingredient)

Inspired by my trouble-shooting with flurrious in the comments section of my last blog post about a banana snack cake, I decided to make some banana bread.

Banana bread was one of the first baked goods I ever made successfully.  Successfully as in I felt comfortable offering the final product to other human beings.

I've never understood why chocolate chip cookies are considered to be the 'first thing' that everyone  should try to bake. Chocolate chip cookies can be extremely finicky and creating a cookie that is crisp and thin on the outside and chewy and thick on the inside is no small feat.  However, with banana bread (as opposed to banana cake) you can pretty much throw in everything you like relatively randomly, with haphazard measuring that would yield a disaster in other types of baking...and yield a somewhat edible product.

Although I've posted a few banana bread and muffin recipes before, the grandaddy and template of all banana bread recipes is really this one, at Simply Recipes. Pretty much every banana bread recipe is some variation of this standard ratio.  The 166 comments are rather interesting to read because many are from people who NEVER baked before--and didn't even know where their loaf pan was--and made the bread successfully. And of course, everyone changed the recipe slightly, if only to throw in a few odd ingredients here or there.

One of the commentators on the recipe was David Lebovitz, the famous professional cookbook author and pastry chef.  That's like reading the comments on a Facebook page about dogs, and noticing: "hey there is a dude commenting about his Portuguese water dog.  Wait, that's President Obama!" 

 Dave suggested adding a shot of espresso to banana bread to accentuate the flavors.  To be honest, I would have completely ignored this comment if it came from a totally random person, but I figure that with several best-selling cookbooks on the shelves, he must know what he is talking about.

I was a little wussy and didn't put in a whole shot of espresso, but the two tablespoons of strong coffee brought out the flavors of the dark chocolate very nicely.  This version has no eggs and uses vegan vegetable shortening rather than butter. I've often found the egg to be fairly extraneous in banana bread, because of the moisture and starchiness of the fruit and I was going to be sharing it with a friend who is vegan, but feel free to use butter if you prefer.

Chocolate Chip Vegan Banana Bread (with a secret ingredient)


1/3 cup melted shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-3 tablespoons very strong espresso
3 mashed, overripe bananas (approximately 1 cup)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line a 9x4 loaf pan with parchment on the bottom.
2. Melt the shortening, cool.  Stir in the sugar and espresso, add bananas.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda, and spices together.  Incorporate the wet and dry mixtures.
4. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter in the pan (it will be fairly thick).  Top with chopped walnuts.
5. Bake for approximately 1 hour until a toothpick can be extracted 'clean.'


  1. I'm going to try this one but use Italian or French roast coffee rather than espresso. Espressos are strong but not that flavorful. In fact, I'm drinking an Americano right now and feel mildly disappointed and suspicious that my day won't go as well as it could have. I also still want to try your recipe for peanut butter banana muffins; I almost made those last week instead of the cake (and since the cake was a bust, I obviously chose incorrectly).

  2. @flurrious--ooh, I love that idea! French roast is by far my favorite blend! I've never been able to drink Americanos, though. I hope the peanut butter muffins go well if you try them, they definitely require less precision than a Cook's Illustrated recipe!

  3. I've made David's banana espresso cake from one of his cookbooks and yes...the combo is awesome! I think banana bread was my first baking experience also! Definitely a great place to start.

  4. @Joanne--I love him and want his life, only I want to be living an incredibly cool life as a professional blogger in France rather than England. Hey a girl can dream?

  5. I have made some vegan baking, and they have all turned out fantastic!
    Also, chocolate chip cookies were the first things I have baked too, and they didn't turn out all too great. Well, I was 7, so I was mostly eating the dough :p

  6. @Cathleen--oh, I remember doing that the first time I baked as a little kid (using a mix, because that's the only way my mother knew how to bake). I ate the dough, some of the cookies hot off the pan, and then some more once they had cooled. Ah, carefree youth, before I understood about calories/carbohydrates/nutrition...