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Mary Berry vs Nigella Banana Bread Recipes

Celebrity Recipes
Close-up picture of Nigella Lawson's banana bread on a grey and white marble surface

First thoughts on the bakes:

Both of these recipes produced two very tasty banana breads, with one recipe - the Mary Berry one - having considerably fewer steps than the other.

The Mary Berry recipe was really easy to bake as it involved putting all ingredients into a bowl at once and then mixing; it’s ideal for inexperienced bakers who might be new to making cakes.

I made these two recipes over a long weekend, and I think Mary Berry’s recipe may be more family-friendly as it makes a more ‘plain’ version of a banana bread without the addition of ingredients like walnuts and sultanas, which young children may not be fond of.

I’m always a little dubious about just recipes that ask you to put everything in all at once, however in this instance the end result was great.

The Nigella recipe involved more expensive ingredients such as rum, walnuts and sultanas so this definitely felt like a more luxurious banana bread recipe.

Mary Berry’s banana bread recipe - a top-level look:

  • Ease of baking: 10/10
  • Enjoyment to bake: 7/10 - Short-lived but easy, and difficult to mess up!
  • Time to bake: Around 1 hr 15 mins
  • Appearance of bake: 9/10 - Golden brown on the outside and a light sweet cake on the inside
  • Taste test: 8/10 - I really liked the simplicity of the cake. It was really tasty and moist, and next time I may try adding some chocolate chips for a different variety of tastes
  • End result: 8/10 - A really simple, easy to follow recipe that produced a nice result.

Want to bake this cake for yourself? Here’s Mary Berry’s banana bread recipe

Worktop showing ingredients needed to bake Nigella Lawson's banana bread

Nigella’s banana bread recipe - a top-level look:

  • Ease of baking: 6/10 - This recipe involves more time-consuming steps, such as soaking the sultanas
  • Enjoyment to bake: 9/10 - Personally, I love experimenting with more complex bakes
  • Time to bake: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Appearance of bake: 8/10 - I liked how this cake looked but it didn’t slice as neatly as the Mary Berry cake
  • Taste test: 7/10 - This was my least favourite of the two as it felt more like a fruit cake
  • End result: 7/10 

Fancy making Nigella’s fruity banana-based bake? Here’s the recipe for Nigella’s banana bread.

Mary Berry vs Nigella's banana breads:

I thought Mary Berry’s recipe produced the closest to what I would call a more traditional banana bread. The difference between the recipes was Nigella’s incorporated additional textures, such as the walnuts and the soaked sultanas - but the rum flavour didn’t come through very strongly in the sultanas, which left me wondering whether this step was necessary.

Mary’s cake had a better ‘crumb’, and I also felt it tasted nicer. I can see that Nigella was aiming for a more grown-up version of the cake, and the whole process was much more involved than the Mary Berry recipe. This doesn’t mean that the Nigella recipe was overly-complicated, but I think if I had to choose which to make again, it would be Mary’s banana bread - based on taste and ease of preparation.

The appearance of both cakes was really good; they looked really appetising when coming out of the oven.

Close-up of Mary Berry's banana bread showing the loaf's fluffy interior and crumbs

Mary Berry banana bread verdict:

How did it taste?

This cake tasted sweet and wasn’t dry at all - I think once it cools down properly, it would be great to slice and put in the toaster to have with butter.

Mouthfeel and texture:

Overall, I liked the texture, it held together well and was the texture of a traditional cake.

What would Mary Berry’s banana bread pair well with?

It would pair well with a layer of Nutella or butter, and would be great as a snack at any time of the day.

Nigella’s banana bread verdict

How did it taste?

This cake didn’t taste too sweet and the banana flavour seemed more subtle as a result.

Mouthfeel and texture:

The texture of this cake was really light and the mouthfeel had lots of texture from the walnuts.

What would Nigella’s banana bread pair well with?

As this feels to me like more of a fruit cake, I would say this cake can be enjoyed on its own with a cup of tea or the addition of butter. However, I didn’t feel it really needed any more flavours.

Mary Berry's banana bread in a pink loaf tin

Overall verdict:

Overall winner: Mary Berry

I feel like Mary Berry’s recipe caters for an audience with speed and convenience in mind - she uses ingredients which would be found in most people’s kitchens, so you could easily decide to make the cake if you have some leftover bananas to use up and have all the other ingredients to hand.

Nigella likes to push the boundaries a bit more and use ‘new’, exciting ingredients to improve a traditional recipe, which is nice but can require more planning.

What went well?

Both recipes produced a good result. One had a one-bowl method and the other incorporated more steps such as melting butter, so it depends on the type of baker that you are and what you are more drawn to.

What was a challenge:

I was worried that the tin I used might not be the right size but both recipes did well in the tin that I had. Trying not to overmix the ingredients is always a worry, but I was careful not to have the mixer on too high a speed and to not mix the batter for too long.

After cooling, both cakes turned out really easily onto the cooling rack and the use of a tin liner means that you don’t need to worry so much about the cake sticking to the sides of the tin.

How would you improve these recipes?

Mary Berry’s recipe didn’t allow much room for improvement as it was really simple and produced a great, lovely-tasting banana cake, so I wouldn’t change it.

Nigella’s banana bread felt like it needed something to improve the structure, so that when it was sliced it didn’t crumble and fall apart. I’m not sure what that would involve but that’s the main issue that needed improving.