Banana-Cardamom Bread

Putting banana and cardamom in the same dish is like putting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss in the same song -- despite hailing from different worlds, when the two are brought together they create a surprising union that is steeped with undeniable chemistry and inimitable harmony. Magical, and strangely addictive. The banana-cardamom duet has already debuted in my hot cereal routine, so here's to a quickbread encore. 

Banana bread has a habit of welcoming the "warm spice" family -- cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, chai, etc. -- into its battery folds. All add delicious depth, but, in my opinion, cardamom an inexplicable edge over the rest. Perhaps it's the way it complements the banana's ripe sweetness with its gingery tang, creating chemistry with contrast. Or the way it laces an unexpected, exotic melody throughout the loaf -- delicate, yet pungent. But this recipe won't be off my turntable anytime soon, and you can bet banana and cardamom aren't done creating hits. 

[Makes 2 small loaves]

1 to 1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3) 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
Scant 1/4 cup honey 
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
 1/4 cup plain yogurt 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
 1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
2 1/2 tsp ground cardamom 
 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Old-fashioned oats, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two loaf pans with olive oil.

2. Place the bananas in a glass bowl, mash a bit, and place in the preheating oven for 5 to 10 minutes to allow them to heat up and release their liquid. Remove from oven and gently finish mashing the bananas with a fork.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, and cinnamon. Set aside.

4. In another large bowl crack two eggs, beat lightly, then add brown sugar, honey, olive oil, vanilla, and yogurt. Whisk until mixture is smooth.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in bananas. Mix until well-combined.

6. With a spatula, scrape the batter into the two greased loaf pans. Sprinkle tops with old-fashioned oats.

7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let loaves rest in their pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a knife or spatula to loosen all four sides, then flip and tap the bottom to release the bread. Move loaves to a rack to cool completely before serving.


  1. I definitely like the idea of banana bread with cardamom! I mean, considering just how great cardamom is in traditional Scandinavian baking--it must also be good with one of the most equatorial foods, right.? ;)

  2. I made this on Monday and it was really good! Very moist and as my friend put it, a little grown up twist on banana bread. I used whole spelt flour for the wholemeal portion and it worked very well. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Nice touch with the spelt, Jade -- I'll have to try it! Glad it was a hit.