Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel

A tender, moist coffee cake with all the flavors of banana bread. Features a double chocolate batter, studded with chocolate chunks and chopped walnuts. Topped with a sweet, crumbly oat and walnut streusel topping. Vegan. <jump to recipe>

When it comes to bananas, I'm a hoarder. It never used to be like this. But when I opened the freezer door last week, only to have a pile of frozen brown bananas come crashing to the ground– I knew it was time to fess up. If it was up to me, I would have quietly just put them back in the freezer. Shut the door and proceeded with my evening. But the noise of frozen bananas smacking the tile, and curious cats trying to bat them around was too loud for even the best noise-cancelling headphones to drown out. With Anguel now in the kitchen – wearing a sassy "I told you so" smirk – I casually defrosted the bananas and made coffee cake instead. As if that was my plan all along.

My banana hoarding tendencies started when we first moved in together. Anguel's spirit animal would probably be a monkey, based purely on the fact that he eats bananas like they're going out of style. Which is totally cool, except that there's never any spotty bananas left at the end of the week. And that's so not cool if you're someone who loves baking banana bread. Thankfully I've become very good at doing two things: 1) hiding bananas in random spots around the kitchen, and 2) bribing Anguel with promises of banana bread if he leaves some survivors for the end of the week. Apparently, this guy likes banana bread too.

Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan
Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan

We make a lot of banana bread in our home, but recently this recipe has been taking the cake (ha!). This coffee cake has everything there is to love about banana bread – with some yummy extras including chocolate (times two) and walnuts. And let's not forget about the walnut oat crumble on top. Because who doesn't like streusel…seriously.

Thanks to spelt flour, coconut sugar and pressing the skip button on the dairy, this recipe is a healthier take on the standard banana-bread fare. Bananas, nut milk, and a small amount of coconut oil help to keep everything moist. The batter calls for chopped dark chocolate and walnuts inside, but you could leave either out if you really wanted to. The crumble topping is like an unexpected bonus round – one that I think a lot of banana breads could benefit from! It tastes and feels decadent, but it's actually loaded with healthy oats and walnuts. A bit of coconut oil replaces butter and keeps everything all together. If fact, the crumble is so good that I've started to think through a long list of dessert recipes that I can add it to.

The end result is a soft, tender and moist coffee cake. It's just sweet enough, which makes it perfect for pairing with tea or coffee. And while I originally made the coffee cake with the intention of it being an afternoon snack, we’ve definitely also snuck it in as breakfast on a few occasions. May once or twice this week - no biggie. It even packed up surprisingly well for our weekend trip to Bowen (a couple photos below). It made the perfect snack on our afternoon hikes; and one morning when we were too lazy to schlep it down the hill in pouring rain, we stayed in bed eating this coffee cake for breakfast instead. Because when it comes to getting cozy, few foods can top banana bread.

Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan
Chocolate Banana Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan

CHOCOLATE BANANA COFFEE CAKE WITH WALNUT STREUSEL

MAKES 1 (8-INCH) CAKE, SERVES 9 (VEGAN)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 3/4 cups spelt flour (8.8 oz/250 g)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (5.3 oz/150 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (4-5 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (2.5 oz/70 g)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped (2 oz/55 g)

Walnut streusel topping:

  • 1 cup oats, divided (4.4 oz/125 g)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine ground flax and water. Stir, then set aside for ~10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, coconut sugar, nut milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. Pour in the ground flax and water mixture, and whisk until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until the flour is just barely combined. Gently fold in chopped walnuts and chocolate, with as few strokes as possible to combine. Set batter aside.
  5. In a food processor, pulse ½ cup oats until the texture of fine sand. Empty oat flour into a bowl. Now add walnuts to the food processor. Pulse until the walnuts are chopped into small pieces. Add walnuts to the bowl of oat flour. Add remaining ½ cup whole oats, coconut sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt to the bowl. Stir until the mixture develops into a crumbly texture. 
  6. Line a 8 x 8" square baking pan with parchment paper (or grease / flour the pan). Pour the coffee cake batter into the pan. Top with the walnut streusel topping. Place into the oven and bake for ~1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Notes:
-*Ensure the non-dairy milk is unsweetened and unflavored. Regular milk would work as well. Room-temperature milk recommended, as cold milk may cause the coconut oil to harden upon contact.
-Use a baking pan with at least 2” sides. Depending on how tall your pan is, you may need to gently press down on the streusel topping to get it all to fit in. 

Our weekend trip to Bowen Island:

Bowen Trip // Natural Girl Modern World
Bowen Trip // Natural Girl Modern World
Bowen Trip // Natural Girl Modern World