The Banana Bread Challenge: 5 Top Bakers Share Their Riffs on the Internet’s Most Popular Recipe|Recipes Spots

The Banana Bread Challenge: 5 Top Bakers Share Their Riffs on the Internet’s Most Popular Recipe

Banana breads on a table
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Banana bread has it all: it is moist, tender, and perfectly sweet. It’s probably one of the easiest baked goods you can make at home. What better recipe to have in your back pocket than one that turns brown bananas into a loaf worthy of gifting to a neighbor or selling at a bake sale? Plus, it’s a crowd-pleaser. Everyone likes banana bread.

Not to toot our own horn or anything, but Simply Recipes happens to have the internet’s best banana bread recipe. It’s been one of the top three results for banana bread on Google for over 10 years, so if you or anyone you know has made banana bread using a recipe from the internet, there’s a good chance it was ours.

The reason our recipe has resonated over the years is the same reason everyone loves banana bread: It’s easy and it delivers.

Simply Recipes’ Banana Bread Origin Story

Elise Bauer, our founder, mentions in the introduction to the recipe that it comes from her friend Heidi via a Mrs. Hockmeyer. I’ve long wondered about this mysterious Mrs. Hockmeyer, so I asked Elise. She pointed me directly to her longtime friend Heidi, who gave me the scoop:

“The recipe comes from Mrs. Hockmeyer—she died a long time ago—from Westford, MA. Her son and my brother were in private school together and we would carpool all the time. We were big skiing families, so whenever we would take her son skiing with us she would provide us with banana bread for the weekend. It was really, really good, so she of course gave us the recipe. That dates from, oh my god, the late 1960s.”

Original banana bread recipe on note card
Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread RecipeSimply Recipes / Heidi Harring

Heidi and Elise have tweaked the recipe slightly over the years—notably altering the number of bananas, as present-day bananas tend to be much bigger. But it’s largely the same as Mrs. Hockmeyer’s original. Heidi’s family, who appear throughout the Simply Recipes archives, still make it today. “My whole family has (the recipe) memorized; we don’t need to pull it out,” she said.

Our Favorite Bakers Put Their Spin on Our Recipe

While our banana bread is perfect just the way it is, it’s also infinitely easy to customize. Readers (and us editors) have been known to add a dash of cinnamon, a few chocolate chips, or a handful of nuts.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we asked five of our favorite bakers to put their own spin on the classic recipe. They came up with five unique banana breads (or cakes!) that are still true to the original recipe.

We encourage you to celebrate Simply Recipes’ anniversary by baking up a batch (or two or three) of banana bread, whether it be the classic loaf or one of these deliciously creative variations.

Joy Wilson's Dark and Stormy
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Joy Wilson’s Dark and Stormy Banana Bread

Also known as Joy the Baker, fun-loving Joy Wilson approached her banana bread riff with as much zeal as she does all of her bakes. She combined our recipe with a classic rum-based cocktail: the dark and stormy. With spices, a bit of rum, candied ginger, and a lime glaze, it’ll put you in a festive mood.

Dorie Greenspan Banana Cake
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Dorie Greenspan’s Coffee Coconut Banana Bread Cake

When baking legend Dorie Greenspan decides to turn your banana bread into an adorable cake, you go with it. With toasted and untoasted coconut, espresso powder, and coconut oil, the cake is moist and flavorful, but still banana-y. A layer of espresso cream cheese frosting doesn’t hurt, either.

Esteban Castillo Dulce de Leche Banana Bread
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Esteban Castillo’s Spiced Dulce de Leche Banana Bread

It turns out banana and dulce de leche are a heavenly match. Esteban Castillo (the genius behind Chicano Eats and Chicano Bakes) added dulce de leche and cinnamon streusel in this very special yet easy banana bread.

Cheryl Day Banana Bread
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Cheryl Day’s Banana Pecan Bread With Caramelized White Chocolate Sorghum Glaze

The queen of Southern baking, Cheryl Day pulled from her roots by adding toasted pecans and ground mace, adding flavor and texture to the bread. A magical glaze, a combination of caramelized white chocolate and sorghum, elevates the bake.

Jesse Szewczk Banana Bread
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Jesse Szewczyk’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Coffee Cake

It’s not unheard of to add chocolate chips to banana bread, but turning it into a loaf of coffee cake is next level. Jesse Szewczyk—author of Cookies: The New Classics and Tasty Pride—added a gooey cinnamon-cocoa center, chocolate chips, and a cinnamon-sugar topping for a decadent take on coffee cake and banana bread.

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