Nigella’s Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cocoa Nibs

Banana cardamom loaf 7

As we all know, you can never have too many banana bread recipes. This one varies slightly from the average as it contains cardamom and cocoa nibs. It’s a good one: not as sweet as a lot of banana breads and it feels more virtuous because it contains cocoa nibs rather than chocolate chips. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s latest recipe book, Simply Nigella, which I was given for Christmas and she calls it a breakfast banana bread. In this latest book she seems to be attempting to offer healthier dishes instead of her usual style of cooking, which is generally quite rich and indulgent. Unfortunately I think her strengths lie in the sort of cooking for which she became known but I was obviously keen to try one of her sweet recipes: I didn’t quite fancy the chocolate and liquorice cake but the banana bread sounded great…

I sometimes wonder how much real input a celebrity chef has in their own books and this recipe definitely makes me wonder. The picture in the book shows the baked loaf in its tin and it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the top.

Nigella banana bread picture

The first time I made this I was afraid half of it was going to end up on the bottom of the oven: luckily it wasn’t a straight-sided tin.

banana cardamom loaf

Orignal recipe: just slightly above the level of the tin!

I made it again and this time used a three-quarter quantity of the original recipe: and it’s still a large loaf. Whoever made the loaf for the photo shoot either failed to use any sort of raising agent or decided that they would only put half the mixture in the tin. I even went back and measured my tin and it was definitely the right size.

banana cardamom loaf

Even three quarters will give you a large loaf!

The recipe below is my version of a three-quarter quantity of the original (and has been tweaked as both versions contain two eggs). The first time I made it I also mis-read the amount of cardamom required and used less than I should have but I think any stronger and it would have been overwhelming. I have also changed the method but if you would like to see the original recipe and method you can find it here. If you are not convinced how much you will like it I would even recommend making a half recipe quantity of the original and maybe it will end up looking like the one in the picture – just bake it for less time. I’d love to hear which version you go with and how you get on!

Banana cardamom loaf 6



2 ripe bananas

1 teaspoon of cardamom pods (about 6 pods) (or ground cardamom).

2 eggs

150ml plain yogurt

100ml light olive oil

150g soft brown sugar

35g cocoa nibs

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


Set the oven to 180ºC and grease, and line if necessary, a 2lb loaf tin.

Mash the bananas and set aside.

making banana cardamom loaf

If you are using cardamom pods rather than ground cardamom, remove the cardamom seeds from the pods and crush with a pestle and mortar. Set aside.


Put the eggs, yogurt, olive oil and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix so that they are well combined.

Banana cardamom loaf 3

Mix in the bananas and cocoa nibs.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the egg mixture and fold in.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around one hour but check after 45 minutes and cover with aluminium foil if it is starting to brown too quickly. It is cooked when it is well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for a while before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Perfect for breakfast or just as a snack, however large your finished loaf is!

Banana cardamom loaf 6


Categories: Baking, Breakfast, Cakes, Fruit, Recipes, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Looks great …I never know what to do with Cocoa nibs? Thank you.

  2. I love anything Nigella makes and these look fantastic.

  3. That’s so funny. They must’ve gone with half the amount, don’t you think? I’ve seen photos staged with ingredients not even listed! Your version does sound good (and certainly looks it), especially with less cardamom. I love the stuff but it can be overpowering.

  4. How interesting. I’ve never made anything of Nigella’s but I’ve read lots of comments online about how her recipes ‘don’t work out’ as they are pictured. I guess either the food stylists and editors make their own adjustments or there’s something totally wrong with the equipment in Nigella’s kitchen (haha). I think her defence in the past has been the ‘user error’ of consumers but with your stringent measuring etc it seems that there was something definitely up with the amount of batter. Your tweaks sound fantastic, as does the reduction of cardamom (the original definitely sounds hefty!). I adore cardamom but as Johnny states, it can quickly become overpowering. Great post. Your loaf looks delicious (I can definitely imagine a slice buttered and toasted for breakfast!) x

  5. I love this recipe, though I made some changes. I doubled the recipe but then used 3 tsp. of cardamom, not 4. I also subbed in some white whole wheat and some almond flour, along with some white. Finally, I used half the brown sugar and substituted agave for the rest (but reduced since it is sweeter than sugar).
    My bread pans, too, were full when the breads finished baking. They took longer to bake.
    The resulting breads, though, we’re just delicious: unusual, interesting, and deeply satisfying (for a long time after finishing a serving, too).

    • Hi, thank you very much for your comment. I think it’s definitely better with less, rather than more, cardamom as otherwise it can be quite overpowering. I like your substitutions too. I’ve made it quite a few times now and will make it again and will be giving agave and ground almonds a go too. Thank you.

  6. OMG never thought of using cardamom & carob nibs in a banana bread…I can’t wait!

  7. Hi Rachel

    I’ve just made this and swopped half the flour for teff flour – never used it before but was impressed with the end result. The Cocoa gives it a lovely nutty texture. Will be making this one again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: