Rye-Sorghum Banana Bread with Coffee + Honey

…buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz…

It’s not just the sound outside our windows from the biggest, fuzziest pollen-drunk bees bumbling around the front bushes — I gave my banana-coconut bread a spring makeover.

Like the original, this banana bread calls on Greek yogurt and mashed bananas for texture and sweetness. Now egg-free and nut-free, featuring gelled flax and several whole grain flours, olive oil and a touch more honey than before help keep the bread tender and light.

Then there’s a splash of cold-brew coffee for the heck of it (and more necessary moisture). But don’t worry, it’s not enough to actually give you a caffeine buzz, nor for the flavor to be overtly discernible for your littles. The coffee plays more of a support role here, shining the spotlight extra brightly onto the banana + giving the bread an extra richness. (If you prefer to omit the coffee OR wish to make the bread 100% gluten-free, see the recipe HGN Notes.)

What’s in it for me?

Diets rich in whole grains + whole grain flours, as opposed to refined grains + refined grain flours, may reduce risk of diabetes, and can improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels to help prevent heart disease. Whole grain flours provide both soluble + insoluble fiber plus a small amount of healthy oils, and are virtually free of cholesterol and sodium.

Sorghum is a gluten-free whole grain (rye is not) that, when milled, creates a smooth, mild-flavored “medium-weight” flour that can be directly substituted for wheat flours in most recipes. Sorghum flour provides about 4 grams protein per 1/4 cup, plus small amounts of ironselenium, and antioxidants. Powdery light tapioca starch — a flavorless gluten-free starch extracted from cassava root — is commonly used for thickening, and also to promote moisture retention in baking for a tender, light crumb and golden color.

One small banana is only about 90 calories, but provides more than 10% of your daily recommended intake of potassiumfibermanganeseantioxidant vitamin C, and vitamin B6Bananas also act as prebiotics, and contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which eventually converts into the relaxing, mood-boosting and sleep-promoting hormones serotonin and melatonin.

Used here as an egg substitute, flaxseed provides a punch of fiber, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, a small amount of protein, and the antioxidant polyphenols called lignans. Pure honey provides small amounts of minerals and antioxidants with potential antiseptic and antibacterial properties (more so with local honey); while olive oil contains heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats and vitamin E.

Learn about rye flour nutrition + the perhaps surprising nutrition benefits of coffee.

Dense, yet soft, and just enough sweet, my buzzed rye-sorghum banana bread is the prescription for a cozy spring weekend. We’re more for quickbreads ticking the dessert box, but with its whole grain base and the addition of coffee, this one could easily fit elsewhere — swipe on some nut or seed butter and call it a special breakfast, brunch or snack.

Whatever your time preference, I do hope you enjoy a slice, and keep it away from those bees!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Riddle me this: Banana bread — breakfast or dessert?

Caffeinated Banana Bread
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: bread, dessert, breakfast, egg-free, vegetarian
Makes: One 8 x 4-inch loaf (8 servings)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 bananas, peeled and mashed (to yield about 1 cup) + 1 banana, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp pure honey
  • 2 Tbsp coffee concentrate or brewed espresso (see HGN Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rye flour (see HGN Notes)
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour (see HGN Notes)
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca (or arrowroot) starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle position. Grease an 8- x 4-inch loaf tin; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, briefly stir together the ground flax and water; set aside 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture forms a gel. Add the mashed bananas, oil, honey, coffee concentrate or espresso, yogurt and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
  3. In another bowl, or on a large piece of waxed paper, sift together the flours, tapioca or arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and quickly fold it in; avoid overmixing. The batter will be thick and sticky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin, and spread the top evenly with a rubber scraper. Lay the two banana halves over, cut-side up, in whichever pattern you like.
  5. Transfer to the preheated oven; bake until golden brown and a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. (If the bread is getting too brown toward the end, cover loosely with a piece of foil. Alternatively, to give it an extra browning, leave the tin in the turned off oven for 5 minutes after baking.)
  6. Remove the tin from the oven, and allow the bread to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes. When cool, run a sharp knife around the edges to help loosen. Invert the bread onto your hand or a plate, then turn it back over so the banana halves are facing up. Continue to cool another 10 to 20 minutes, then slice with a serrated knife and serve.
  7. Store in a tightly sealing container or wrapped in plastic wrap or foil at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer keeping, the bread can be refrigerated (same container/wrapping instructions as above) up to 5 days. To freeze, tightly wrap a fully cooled loaf (whole or sliced), or leftover individual slices, in plastic wrap, then place into a freezer safe zipper-top storage bag for 2 to 4 months. Thaw the frozen bread in its packaging at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving.
HGN Notes
If you don't have rye and/or sorghum flours, substitute one with more of the other, or substitute both with equal amounts of light spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, Atta flour or even regular whole wheat flour.

For a 100% GF bread, substitute the rye flour with a similarly "heavy-weight" gluten-free flour 1:1, such as buckwheat, quinoa or millet. Though not tested, I am fairly confident the aforementioned direct substitutions would be fine. You may be able to get away with a 1:1 replacement of the rye with a nut or seed flour/meal, or a bean/legume flour, but these are more dense and may require additional tweaks to amount of liquid, fat, and/or leavener.

+ Replace the split banana on top with other fresh fruit of choice, like whole small strawberries, blueberries or blackberries, or thin slices of pear, apple or blood orange.
+ Make these vegan with maple syrup in lieu of honey.
+ Swap 2 large eggs for the flax-water "egg," or opt for 2 chia "eggs" instead (let 2 Tbsp chia seeds gel with 6 Tbsp water).
+ Add a crunch to the top with crushed coffee beans, chia or poppy seeds, or coarsely chopped raw nuts.

These slices are a pretty good size, and you could easily (with a sharp serrated knife) slice the bread into 10 portions instead of 8. Each slice will now be only about 174 calories, 6 g fat, 27 g carb, 11 g sugar, and 2.5 g each protein + fiber.
Nutrition Info
Serving Size: 1 slice (1/8 of loaf) Calories: 217 Fat: 8 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 7 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 34 Sugar: 14 Sodium: 278 Fiber: 3 Protein: 3 Cholesterol: 0

An HGN original recipe.

Kohana Coffee recently sent me a bottle of cold-brew concentrate to try — perfect timing to caffeinate by glass + by slice! My rye-sorghum banana bread is entered in the KC recipe contest, and voting begins 1 April if you’re interested in supporting me. While I did receive a free sample, I was not compensated to write this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Check out my downloadable nutrition guides.

p.s. I love hearing from you! Check back if you ask a question, because I’ll answer it here.

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