Choreographer Caitlin Trainor Shares Her Cast-Iron Banana Bread Recipe

August 30, 2023

When Caitlin Trainor’s daughter Evangelina was a toddler, Trainor wanted to give her a treat that was nourishing and contained minimal refined sugars. After some experimentation in the kitchen, Trainor developed her cast-iron banana bread. “I’m just a throw-it-in-a-dish kind of girl,” says the choreographer, who’s the artistic director of Trainor Dance and founded the online­ class platform Dancio, in addition to being on faculty at Barnard College. “My husband says if you like something Caitlin cooks you better enjoy it, because you’re never going­ to have it again.”

This improvisational approach­ to cooking reflects Trainor’s process in the studio. “I’m not interested in creating the same thing twice,” she says. “If we’re really in a genuine creative process there’s always risk of failure. There’s something very soul-satisfying about the low-stakes creativity of the kitchen.” Trainor also appreciates the sensory elements of cooking; rather than following recipes or instructions, she relies on smell and feel. “There’s something about food and dance that feels like the heart of life in the sense that it’s all changing and moving,” says Trainor. “Food and dance nourish us in this way that doesn’t last forever.” And does the now-6-year-old Evangelina still like Trainor’s banana bread? “Absolutely. She’s in it for the chocolate chips.”

Microplane Maven

Trainor’s go-to kitchen tool is her Microplane. “That thing was $7, and I always gift it to people,” she says. It comes in most handy when adding fresh nutmeg (like in her banana­ bread), ginger, or citrus­ zest. “It’s so low-effort, and just transforms a dish so easily,” Trainor adds.

a young girl and mom cooking in the kitchen
Caitlin Trainor cooking with her daughter Evangelina. Courtesy Trainor.


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tbsps maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated on a Microplane (“The spice adds a surprising dimension to the bread. Ground nutmeg also works, but will be more subtle.”)
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil (separate 1 tbsp to oil the pan)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (white flour or at least 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour mixed with coconut flour, almond flour, or quick oats)
    Optional Add-Ins
  • 1/2 heaping cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut, unsweetened or sweetened
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips, unsweetened, semisweet, or bittersweet


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. If using nuts, crumble them into a cast-iron frying pan (you can substitute with a glass pie plate) and toast them in the oven for 15 minutes or until fragrant. Remove the nuts to cool, and turn the oven temperature up to 350°F.
  2. Add the beaten eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, butter or coconut oil, lemon or apple cider vinegar, and mashed banana to a large bowl and mix with a large spoon to combine.
  3. Put 1 tbsp of butter or coconut oil in the pan and pop it in the oven to heat up till sizzling slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes. This adds a nice buttery crust to the bread base.
  4. Meanwhile, add the baking powder and flour to the wet ingredients and mix. Don’t overmix; just a few turns of the spoon should be enough to prevent gumminess. The batter should be thicker than pancake dough but looser than cookie dough. A few white patches of flour might remain.
  5. Fold in any optional add-ins.
  6. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and put it in the oven. Start checking for doneness at around 23 minutes by tapping the top of the bread. It should be firm but not hard.
  7. When the bread is done, remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a baking rack. Once it’s completely cool, cut in pieces to enjoy.
banana bread in a cast iron pan sitting on a table next to sunflowers
Courtesy Trainor.