Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel Topping

Can I tell you something? I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything, but, I’m good at beginning.

Name a hobby: Knitting? Taking a photo every day for a year? Running regularly? I will jump in with both feet — I have, I should say — and I’ll tell you about it, filled with energy. This would all sound pretty exciting if I didn’t have to tell you the second thing, a little something that goes hand-in-hand with this enthusiasm — brace yourself; it’s a little tragic.

Top view of a slice of banana bread on a white plate with a fork on the side.

The equal truth is I am a terrible finisher. Truly awful. Those hobbies above? I knitted two scarves and got bored.

I took 88 photos and stopped. And thank goodness I finally talked Alicia out of the 5K I talked her into, because, gosh, I haven’t run in weeks.

It’s bad, I know. Not the kind of character quality that great souls are made of. It gives me more admiration for people like marathon runners or, even, people who are married — there’s that commitment and follow-through that says you are serious and steadfast and faithful.

A slice of banana bread on top of a white plate.

I want to be like that, and I’m taking small (ok, teeny-tiny!) steps to improve. Starting with this banana bread.

Friday night, I made this, one of my favorite banana breads (dare I say the favorite?) and ate some that night and packaged some up for the road trip the next morning, and finished it off in my lunch yesterday and today — that felt nice, the finishing, I mean. And I thought, Maybe I’ll link to this recipe on my Twitter or Facebook profiles, so people can remember it and how great it is! But I went through my archives and saw I never posted it here — right as I was popping the last could-have-been-photographed bite past my lips. So classic.

And not until I found this old, archived photo I’d forgotten, from the first time I made this banana bread, back in February, did there seem to be any hope of redemption. Because that’s when it came to me: I’ll post this I’m-still-unsure-why-it-is-so-vintage-looking photo (along with one I found in my computer files) and this recipe that I love and have been wanting to share, and I’ll tell you, Aha! Look! We’ve come first circle! Because, see? This is me finishing — one, teeny-tiny, Hallelujah! thing.

It’s not a marathon, nor a mountain, but it’s something, and it’s no longer just a loose end, and they say even a marathon begins with a single step, right? So I say it’s victory, and, to celebrate, maybe I’ll go jogging tonight.

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2008

Here’s the secret behind this bread’s appeal, beyond the obvious fact that, hello, it’s banana bread: the crumbly topping. No matter how many slices I eat, the streusel is always, always my favorite part, the little bits that I save up until the end to really enjoy.

In a lot of ways, this is like a quick bread mixed with a coffee cake, and, well, you know how I love coffee cake. I think my point has been made.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually 2 medium)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a metal loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. (I really love that the batter requires a touch of cinnamon – makes everything tie together.)

In a large bowl, whisk the next five ingredients until everything’s smooth and combined; then add the dry ingredients, and stir some more. Pour batter into pan.

Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and brown sugar (between us, it’s OK to be a little heavy handed here; the more crumbles on top, the better); sprinkle over batter. Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, for approximately an hour.

Then, remove pan and let the bread cool, in pan, for 30 minutes. (The originally directions involve turning the pan on its side and sliding it out carefully without dislodging the toppings, but I’m going to leave that to you highly skilled types and just keep eating my breads out of the pan.)

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

28 thoughts on “Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel Topping”

  1. shanna! you need to watch the movie “Julie & Julia” if you have not seen it yet. this post sounds just like Julie from the movie.

  2. shanna, you don’t give yourself enough credit. not every beginning requires an ending. this is why i will get up early to watch sunrises but rarely have the inclination to witness a sunset. and not to say that this is a failure, but just keep in mind, every failure is just an excuse to try again. the greatest thing about all these starts, you can walk away for however long it takes for you to come right on back.

  3. Didn’t you say you finished the latest loaf of banana bread? As in, there’s no more left? Chalk that one up, at least.

    I wish I could say that you and I were a lot different in this respect. But no, I relate entirely too much. Like the time I decided classical music (and learning about it) was my new passion? Ha. Debussy who?

  4. i can totally relate. great at starting stuff, horrible at finishing. i think this is why i was never into crafts. ugh, and let’s not even talk about the whole running thing.

    hmmm…banana bread. if i buy that cake pan, can i make it in that? banana cake?

  5. I’m the kind of person that stops at 26 miles of a marathon (although I did one once). I can relate. But the worse is my husband who will clean up 95% of the kitchen. Why can’t he finish?

  6. Jarrelle, I saw the movie and loved Julia Child even more than I already did, especially her relationship with Paul. As for Julie…. well, it serves me right that this post got me compared to her, ha! I guess we are alike in the starting without finishing!

    Lan, You always know just what to say. Seriously. I will be thinking about what you said—about beginnings have a beauty of their own—for a very long time.

    Jess, I know, right? It’s the streusel topping, all the way!

    Leftoverist, Ha! At least it’s good to know I’m not alone!

    Aw, Jo, I’m touched. Thank you!

    SP, LOL. You have been reading about my 5K efforts for a long time, haven’t you? Someday, friend. Someday.

    Jacqui, Oh, don’t get me started on crafts. There’s a natural talent I have done without. And yes, why not in a cake pan!?

    Montague, But you KNITTED TWO BLANKETS!? Even if the finishing touches are waiting, I am impressed, Amy.

    Angela, Oh my gosh. 26 MILES. Stop it. In my book, you are still amazing. That is an accomplishment.

  7. Yeah, remember how I told you I tried running a 5k for practice and I think my pedometer really made me run about 5 miles? Now my knees are KILLING me. It’s hard to finish stuff when you have no control over the things that get in the way! But not, I haven’t ENTIRELY given up on the 5k. 🙂

  8. Hopefully the end won’t be coming for a long time but you should give yourself some credit for starting and updating your blog on a regular basis.

  9. oh man, I relate about 137% to everything you said up there. crafts, blogs, new years resolutions, relationships (!?) – finishing is tough.

    see? now i have a craving for banana bread. will i make it tonight tho? probably not. maybe in a couple weeks 🙂

  10. so well written. Love the “voice” in it. A different tone from other post and i like it! Does this mean when out in CO you will hike only half-way up a mountain? 🙂

  11. This looks delicious – I might have to add this to my banana bread recipe list 🙂 I do love banana bread…

    I’m a start-again-stop-again knitter myself. It probably won’t help that I put all my yarn and needles in a plastic bin in the garage, eh?

  12. I know exactly what you mean! I act like I have time for everything, start new projects and then realize I am a human and can’t really do it all.

    I LOVE banana bread, thanks for the recipe!

  13. Alicia, I’m still counting on you to be my 5K guinea pig, so ice those knees and get training (easy for me to say)! Maybe we can do the Thanksgiving one? Oh, gosh, what am I saying.

    Vicki, It’s definitely because of kind people like you that I haven’t given up on this hobby yet – thanks for that encouraging comment!

    Kate, Ha! I have about five folders full of recipes I will make later. Sigh. One at a time, right?

    Kendall! You are really too nice to me – thank you so much! It means a lot coming from you. And PS I make no promises about Colorado mountains – my palms are sweating just thinking about it.

    Kim, All my life I hated banana bread, right up until last October, when I made some after an awful stomach bug/food poisoning and it was just what I needed. Haven’t looked back since!

    Kate, I always love hearing about a new banana bread recipe – thank you!

    Susan, That’s true; we’re human. There’s a Psalm I really like that says we are just dust – gives me perspective when I’m looking at all I can’t do.

    Lainey, I love how this comment board is becoming like the AA for quitters, ha! No shame in your attempt, especially if YOU MADE A SKIRT! Let’s not talk about the sewing machine I have and never learned to use, OK?

  14. @Shannalee – The 5K category lead me to discover your PF blog in the first place. If I remember correctly, I believe that ankle/shoe problems derailed things at the time. I didn’t realize that you talked someone out of running. You are only allowed to talk them into it.

    Take things one mile at a time, and you’ll get there.

  15. SP, Well, gosh, when you say it like that, its sounds very bad. Does it help that Alicia is still running a 5K this month but without me? Another friend of hers signed her up and I told her she will be my guinea pig.

    JessieV, “the only thing we really HAVE to finish is the great food…” – I am so with you on that!

  16. Give me an oar. I need to back paddle.

    It’s good to hear that Alicia will experience her very first road race. Why does she need to be your guinea pig? You won’t disappear when you cross the starting line, I promise. Finishing a 5K might lead to the beginning of a new adventure.

  17. One of my nephews LOVES banana bread, if it is as good as you say, I may have to get my SIL to bake this for me, er, I mean him. :0)

  18. Not a marathon or a mountain, but I do love that vintage-y photo. And banana bread. Lucky me to have a couple bananas in the freezer just waiting for something like this!
    Also, at least you don’t get overwhelming guilt from not finishing something. I kept up with a number of sports growing up just because I didn’t want to be a “quitter,” ignoring that I didn’t really like them at all. Cut your losses, do what you love!

  19. SP, Oh, the guilt! You are a good motivator to help me think about these things. Mostly, right now, it’s just been inconvenient (I’m out of town when one’s scheduled nearby, yadda yadda) but you are right, and there’s no reason I couldn’t do one anyway. Right now, though, I’m just focusing on smaller things.

    MrBrownThumb, You won’t regret it, at least not if you like crumbly coffee cake and moist banana bread!

    Caitlin, Love that last line. So much. “Do what you love,” should be the motivation for many more enterprises – such a good point.

  20. Bea, Indeed! Thanks for stopping by, BTW – I popped over at your site and am in awe of your gorgeous photography! Glad to meet you!


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