The Morning-after Banana Bread – or how I can’t leave a perfectly good recipe alone


Just like my friend The Amateur Gourmet Adam, who posted about his recipe-tweaking habit recently, I’m not one to leave a perfect good recipe alone.  Even when it comes to something so simple, and so seemingly perfect, I rarely could stop myself from tweaking it a little.  At times the results my tinkering are disastrous – Dorie Greenspan’s perfectly innocent French Yogurt Cake recipe I played with yesterday was one, but that story’s for another time.  At other times, however, I ended up with something like this Banana Bread, which I think – rather ungrammatically I might add – is a more perfect version of an already perfect recipe.

I first saw the recipe at Deb’s delicious blog Smitten Kitchen. On it she said she got the recipe from our mutual friend Elise at Simply Recipes. Elise, in turn, got it from her friend Heidi’s ski friend’s mother Mrs. Hockmeyer.  The recipe was alarmingly simple.  First you mash up your banana, then stir in butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Oh, yes, and flour.  By hand.  No fancy kitchen implements required.  That simple.

So I baked one.  I liked it, quite a lot.  Though there was something that was just not quite there, there.  You know what I mean.  It was very good, but also very sweet, even after I reduced the sugar amount by 1/4 cup.  It was also rather flat and one-note, lacking acidity to support the cloying sweetness.  For this I’m not sure if it’s the flaw of the recipe or it’s the fault of the modern-day bananas engineered to be pretty much all sugar in a tubular form.  (You noticed this too, yes, I cannot possibly be the only one.)

So, I set out to tinker with the recipe a little.

Adding acidity is easy enough, just a spoonful or two of sour cream or yogurt should do.  But then, one thing led to another, and now I ended up with a recipe with a shot of espresso and a glug or two of Jameson whiskey in it.  I don’t know, maybe it was a morning after a rather fun night out, so, you know, hair of the dog an all that.  All I know is the flavor of this loaf is pitch perfect – not too sweet, the tiny bit of added acidity brightens up the flavor quite a lot, plus the hint of espresso and Jameson added just the perfect amount of je ne sais quoi. This has now become my basic banana bread recipe, and as you can see in the picture, we clearly have a problem keeping it around for too long.  That’s how much we love this.

And, no, I’m not saying this is a sure cure for your hangover, but at least you can nurse it with a nice slice (or two, or four) for breakfast.

The Morning After Banana Bread

  • 3-4 very ripe bananas (I use exactly 350g of banana, if you want to know.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream or yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (75g) melted butter
  • 1 shot (about 1T) of espresso (or a scant 1 tablespoon of espresso granules)
  • 2 tablespoons Jameson whisky (or any kind of rum)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup (175g) All-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)

In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas until creamy.  Add the egg and sour cream, whisk to blend.  Next add the melted butter, espresso, and Jameson.  Stir to mix.


Then add the sugar, baking soda, and salt, and again stir vigorously until completely incorporated.  Sift the flour into the bowl, stir, gently this time, until the flour is incorporated and you can no longer see spots of white flour in the batter.

Butter and floured a 9” loaf pan or line it with a piece of parchment.  (Yes, you’re seeing two pans in the picture, I baked a double recipe.)  Pour the batter into the mold.  Knock the mold on the counter once or twice to let the batter fill it nicely and get rid of any air pockets.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 1 hr, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (You can use a wooden skewer or a toothpick if you don’t have a cake tester.)

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  • kitchenbeard

    Isn’t half the fun of cooking and baking the process of making something your own or mastering the technique or learning something new?

  • Mark Cohen

    Ooooo, I couldn’t wait and made these as muffins for lunch…damn tastylicious! Budgasm!
    Really good…couldn’t even taste all the separate flavors, but they blended nicely into a dark rich melange.
    Cut the recipe in 1/4 and made 4 med. muffins, cooked for about 25 minutes in total at 350-degrees F, rotating halfway thru.

  • Best Restaurants In Santa Cruz

    Looks great

  • Stay-At-Home-Chef

    Yum! I recently tweaked my fav blueberry sauce for pancakes and came up with a new version: fresh blueberries, a little honey, cinnamon, lemon zest and a generous glug of Amaretto…delicious!

  • Santa Cruz Restaurant

    Is that what it looks like when finished in the last photo ?

  • South Campus Bakery

    Love the espresso addition to a tried and tested banana bread recipe!

  • Meaghan

    This looks great! I tweak everything I bake, as well… it’s an incurable affliction. I’m addicted to the suspense–will it turn out, or won’t it?
    I really like baking with whiskey! It’s such a nice hidden flavour, though it isn’t used as often as rum or sweeter liqueurs. I put whiskey in my apple butter this year, and really liked it.

  • SoCo Cake

    I’ve used Elise’s recipe once and really liked it. I tend to try different banana bread recipes each time, but I think I’ll be using this one again! My husband LOVED it (not a banana bread fan) and the kids kept asking for more and more and more. Completely understand the first pic. Thanks for tweaking the recipe!

  • Katie @ Cozydelicious

    I, too, am a recipe tweaker. I totally undersatand because I have also had my share of disasters, but sometimes great things happen, and this banana bread looks amazing! I have never added espresso to banana bread. I have to admit that I have gone the alcohol route though – and made a great loaf with some coconut flakes and rum added. I’m going to have to try this espresso idea! Thanks!

  • my little expat kitchen

    Oh it’s certain that I’ gonna try this. I’m sold! The last banana cake I baked was kind of dull so a little Jameson might do the trick!

  • Tsetchi

    Hello !
    Thank you for this blog ! Really good !
    Have a nice day ! :)

  • Bianca

    I love your blog, amazing photos and creativity! I am very new to this world and am amazed how professional your site is! Love the food you cook, would be so appreciative if you could give my blog a few tips and advice if you found the time. Thank you

  • Susie

    Hello! this recipe looks easY! I am going to try it tonight. Thanks for sharing :-) more pleaze! Love your site!

  • Restaurant Capitola

    If you are gonna be a recipe tweaker u gotta know what ur doing katie…

  • Natasha

    I bet that Whiskey gives it a good kick-I am trying this for St Pat’s day!
    Best wishes,

  • Amy

    There’s nothing better than a good banana bread. Do you think it might be good with zucchini?

  • bee lee Tan

    Sound so delicious, must try.
    bee lee Tan

  • Nive

    this couldn’t have been posted at a more oppurtune moment. i am away from home, staying in a guest house, without access to fancy kitchen aids and bananas feature as a daily item on my breakfast menu. maybe i can reduce the sugar somewhat more and use it even for lunch! i like your site a lot!

  • Sprout

    There are never enough iterations on banana bread – don’t worry! Perfection is relative :)
    Thanks for sharing!


    mmmm I haven’t tried banana bread in a while…will have to remember this recipe for when I do!

  • Kristin

    espresso and rum. interesting. not the staples in my kitchen as bananas are, but interesting.

  • Julia

    oh my. i wasn’t sure, but had 4 ripe bananas so….
    oh my. this is just outstandingly good. my husband is going to die.
    did i mention…
    oh my.

  • Maris Callahan

    Some of the best recipes come from taking an already excellent one and adding your own special touch!

  • Tom Racette

    Hi Pim:
    I am a receipt tweaking addict. So I used amaretto instead of whiskey. Also the bananas were not store bought but out of my yard in Rawai (don’t know the names of all Thai bananas but not the small ones). Two loves, four neighbours, one girlfriend and me: gone in 60 seconds it was that good!

  • bigjobsboard

    Wow. I can say that it really looks good. I can see the texture and the softness of the bread. Thanks for sharing the recipe. This is really great.

  • Best Restaurants In Santa Cruz

    Ya the texture makes my mouth water…

  • Cool Springs Restaurants

    That banana bread looks amazing! Banana bread is one of my favorites things growing up that my mom would always make. She would let the bananas turn black and then freeze them. They always made better bread!

  • Laranjinha

    Hello Pim,
    I´am a portuguese food blogger I have made your banana cake recipe. I loved it. Thanks for charing.

  • Laranjinha

    Hello Pim,
    Apologize for my previous typos! :( It was too early in the morning ;)
    Here it is the corrected version:
    I am a Portuguese food blogger and I have made your banana cake recipe [ ]
    I loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Deanna

    You had me at Jameson. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Jenise

    Pim, I was going to make my usual Cook’s Illustrated recipe but at the last moment tried yours. Wow…toss the Cook’s Illustrated! It’s amazing. This is the second rec ipe I’ve tried from your blog and both are complete and total keepers. Thank you!

  • Pim

    Yes indeed.

  • Pim

    Baking this in little muffin pans is inspired. I bet some cream cheese frosting will make them even better!

  • Pim

    Sounds like fun. I don’t play with Amaretto much since I don’t usually have it around. Might need to change it.

  • Pim

    Nope, the last photo was before it went into the oven.

  • Pim

    Espresso makes almost everything taste better in my opinion.

  • Pim

    Whiskey-apple butter? Where can I get some?

  • Pim

    You’re welcome. You can add nuts if your kids like nuts, but I like mine just like this.

  • Pim

    Disasters just make successes like this one taste better!

  • Pim

    Yeah, let me know how you like it when you try.

  • Pim


  • Pim

    Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  • Pim

    Thanks. It is very easy.

  • Pim

    Did you put anything green in there too?

  • Pim

    I’m not a big fan of zucchini bread, so I wouldn’t know. Sorry!

  • Pim

    I’m sure you can make it with even less sugar. Perhaps add a bit more banana?

  • Pim


  • Pim

    Not sure what that’s saying about my kitchen, but I *always* have espresso and rum, but not always bananas. Ha.

  • Pim


  • Pim

    Absolutely, but so are the worst ones. lol

  • Pim

    Hmm…another Amaretto addition. I need to get me some.

  • Pim


  • Pim

    That’s a good tip, thanks.

  • Pim

    Thanks for the link!

  • Pim

    I had me at Jameson too.

  • Pim

    Thanks for coming back to tell me. What was the other recipe you tried?

  • Simon

    I f*cking love your pictures… in the newest post especially.really makes me want to go to australia…
    would be cool if you, and everyone else here, would take a look at my blog on
    If you like it and link it, tell me! I’ll link to you to :) .

  • Dorothy Miles

    Banana cake is my favorite..i’ve never tried to make that because I don’t know how to bake but I’m willing to learn for my kid..

  • Ron Cali

    Pim…I made this bread this morning. Mine did not rise as much as I’d like, but all else was perfection! Would you think adding some baking powder along with the baking soda would give a better rise, or would that destroy the texture?

  • Pim


  • The Taste Traveller

    I have a similar recipe tweaking tendency. I also will do this with perfect or what sound like perfectly fine recipes – I just can’t help myself. I’ll also endlessly adapt baking recipes – which many will say is very very risky. But there I go again, substituting flours, sugars, adding spices willy nilly (well, I do put some thought into it actually :) ) and on it goes.
    I particularly like the addition of espresso here…as I often feel the need for some in the afternoon….and whiskey or rum – wow – that’s some banana bread you’ve created!
    Thanks for the ideas – look forward to trying it out (although I’ll probably tweak it a little!

  • Sharon

    This is great, thanks! I wanted to make it a little healthier so I used all whole wheat flour and 1/3 c. olive oil instead of the butter. Don’t have Jameson so used Evan Williams whiskey. It came out great! It was super moist and rose beautifully. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Tian

    The amalgamation of espresso, rum and banana was quite perfect (however felt the banana was overshadowed a little), thanks for the recipe. My sis enjoyed it so much that she insisted half of the loaf must fly with her tonight across the ocean for our family back home to taste.

  • kookie in London

    Pim, have you tried the banana espresso choc chip muffins from the guys at Baked? That is probably my favourite recipe in the book, it’s excellent. If you like chocolate with yr bananas and espresso, that is!

  • Lippy

    For future tweaking…a little lemon adds a lot to banana bread.

  • tampa-bankruptcy-attorneys

    a little lemon is not good to change the tast of banana bread.

  • mary

    Is this still good without the espresso and the Jameson? I’d like to exclude those (sorry!) :) and would I need any substitutes? Thank you!

  • GHD

    Thank you for sharing, O (∩ _ ∩) O ~,This is Amy. Message from:

  • Tiffany

    Thanks for share,great article!^^
    More messages from:Amy’s homepage

  • Clea Walford

    My family loves banana bread and your idea of adding a little espresso and Jameson whisky is great!

  • Jade Hansen

    I made the double recipe, didn’t have whiskey so used a black rum. I’ve never made such a moist banana bread before. Thank You!

  • Lippy

    Mary, if you don’t want to use the whisky and espresso, double the amount of sour cream, squeeze some lemon juice into the batter, grate in the lemon zest and substitute brown sugar for white. It won’t be the same banana bread, but it will be good.

  • MaggieB

    Expresso & Jameson! I love your sense of adventure! THIS is how true star recipes are BORN!

  • Nastassia

    I had 3 super ripe banana, i was about to throw them away and then i happen to check into your blog and saw this post! I made this banana bread in less than ten minutes, 1 hour in the oven and the rest is blissful history! Thanks for sharing, it was delicious!

  • Sally – My Custard Pie

    Just discovered your blog (Nigella Lawson live chat online recommended casey ellis blog spot which in turn referred to yours!). Blend of lovely photography and intriguing recipes so I’m hooked. We always have ripe bananas that need using up but I’ve found bread recipes without nuts too sweet and have been searching for something more, well, adult. Will make it tomorrow – can’t wait….and thanks.

  • Li-Yong

    Hi Pim,
    I made your banana bread a couple of weeks ago and it was winner (rose well, was moist and tasty!). I am in the middle of baking a double recipe right this moment, but am noticing that the top of the banana bread is “cracking”; as it did the first time around as well. I have shifted the tray down a notch in my electric oven to allay it, but what am I doing wrong?
    Many thanks!

  • Sally – My Custard Pie

    You inspired me Pim – in more ways than one – Thank you.

  • The Teacher Cooks

    What an easy recipe for banana bread! Need a couple of slices right now and I would be set for the day.

  • Fiery Elephant

    I tried this today. Wasn’t sure whether espresso granules meant instant coffee or ground coffee or something else and went with instant coffee, which made for a very dark batter. I thought Jamesons was whisky – though the recipe says rum – silly me – and that’s what I used. I gently stirred in the flour but there seemed to be lots of lumps so I whisked the batter till smooth with an electric hand held beater. The result is nice. Not a strong coffee flavour. Or a strong banana flavour. Or a strong whisky flavour. But a nice flavour. A slightly chewy crust and dense crumb… Thank you for the recipe!

  • Suzanne

    You’ve got some interesting ingredients in this recipe — I’ll give it a try!

  • et

    Hi Pim, ur version of the banana bread recipe stuck in my mind for a few months before I finally got round to trying it today. What stuck most is your addition of espresso & whisky into the std banana bread recipe. By the time I started the recipe (it was impromptu) i didn’t hv enough bananas, so I made up the diff with Dates. I had also ran out of wh sugar, so it was my remaining 120gm or so of Muscovado Sugar. Finally, my last substitute was Bourbon. The final result was a cake that had a combination of a smokey & caramelized taste. You can also taste the subtle undertones of the coffee & banana in the back of your mouth. Thank u for inspiring me to create something exciting I wldn’t hv thought of on my own.

  • SueL

    My kids love Banana Bread. So much that they now help me make it and have it for breakfast before going off to school. Here is our family recipe that we use

  • graphics tablet

    Wow, not only a delicious breakfast but also a great medicine! This is precious, I will write it down and keep it safe.

  • patimaporn(tukta)

    hi , i like your blog alot and i follow you in natoinal geographic to day and i also love to cook im have my small kitchen too!

  • Carina

    I made this recipe the other day and was delighted with the result! (Although I didn’t have Jameson on hand so I used scotch instead-mistake. It was much to smoky of a flavor for the bread.) A pastry chef friend of mine said it was the best recipe she’s had but agreed that Jameson would be the ticket:) I will definitely be making this again! Thanks again to you and David for the wonderful dinner last week–It was a pleasure to meet you both and share a lovely evening!

  • Murphyben56

    Fantastic recipe – the loaf came out BEAUTIFULLY!! . It was not hard to make.I will be making this again!

  • Vortexgirl

    This is by far the best banana bread that I have ever made! Instead of the Jameson, I used Bushmills Whiskey (which was the only thing I had on hand) and used 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla and a wee bit of allspice and cinnamon. Thank you for the recipe, I will add this to my collection.

  • Maria

    Mmmmm yum yum yum. Making this a second time tommorow. Love this recipe.

  • Susie Tang

    This is such an easy recipe to follow but dont know why but the banana bread is moist, dense and dark, unlike the one in your picture. What am I doing wrong? And the top of the cake cracked – is it supposed to? Thanks!

  • AshleyShell

    I should let you know that I make this recipe all the time, except that I never have any espresso on hand, and I also usually only use 1/4 c. sugar or less.  I love how moist it is, though!

  • Tian Thoo

    2nd time commenting but have used your recipe countless times.

    Only thing I noticed is that the coffee and rum flavour disappears quite quickly over time.  Even at the 2nd day they’re noticeably gone. Wonder how we could preserve them longer

  • Selina_w

    Eat it faster!

  • Selina_w

    (in response to Tian)