Stack of Renny Darling vintage cookbooks


Orange Date Nut Bread dripping with Orange Glaze from vintage cookbook writer Renny Darling.
Orange Date Nut Bread with Orange Glaze is a delicious vintage recipe from Renny Darling.

Once upon a time, Renny Darling was epic

The late 1980s launched my love of cooking and baking. Those were the days of 7-layer dip, bran muffins and chicken casseroles with cream of mushroom soup. As a newlywed just out of college, I poured over cookbooks (rarely did they have photos back then!) and tried dozens and dozens of recipes. Most went by the wayside, but a few have become family classics. 

One of my favorite cookbooks from that era was “Easiest & Best Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads” by Renny Darling. I’m sharing three of my favorite recipes from that wonderful cookbook: Old-fashioned Banana Chocolate Chip Bread; Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Orange Glaze; and Orange Date Nut Bread with Orange Glaze.

A stack of Renny Darling cookbooks
A stack of some of my favorite Renny Darling cookbooks.

Who is Renny Darling?

Renny Darling wrote more than a dozen adorably illustrated cookbooks and sold more than 1 million copies. Each one was signed, “Love, Renny,” and truly, every page sings her joy of cooking and her wish that we all find that joy, too. “Baking is the stuff memories are made of,” she says in “Easiest & Best Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads. “Offering a freshly-baked bread is like giving someone a juicy kiss. You only bake for those you love.”

Illustrated page from cookbook by Renny Darling
Renny’s cookbooks were adorably illustrated, giving every page a cozy “welcome to my kitchen” feel.

But where did she go?

Yet, Renny is almost anonymous now. Her website has vanished from the internet, and her Facebook page is unattended. I found this interesting article on but very little else. I couldn’t even find out if she’s still living.

What we do know is that she started as a food columnist before writing her cookbooks; her cookbooks were hugely popular in the 1970s and 1980s; that her birthday is Sept. 29; and that her favorite quote is, “Love does not exist … only demonstrations of love.”

Renny Darling’s cookbooks demonstrate her love for us, the home cooks of the world.

I love every recipe I’ve ever made from a Renny Darling cookbook. Give one of these three a try:

Piece of chocolate chip banana bread from Renny Darling cookbook sitting on a plate
Old-fashioned Banana Chocolate Chip Bread is so good that even the anti-banana bread folks will love it.

What I love about this banana bread recipe: So many banana recipes call for a certain number of bananas, but in reality, each banana is a different size. Renny’s recipe calls for a specific measurement of bananas, and it turns out perfect every time.


Recipe by Renny DarlingDifficulty: Easy
Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 cup coarsely mashed bananas (about 2 small bananas)

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.     
  • Stir together sour cream and soda and set aside.
  • Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream mixture and vanilla.
  • Stir in bananas by hand.
  • Add flour and salt until dry ingredients are just blended. Don’t over-mix.
  • Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  • Divide mixture between 3 greased mini-loaf pans and bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes and then remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.
Old-fashioned Banana Chocolate Chip Bread has the most wonderful texture - a lightly crunchy crust and an ooey-gooey center.
Old-fashioned Banana Chocolate Chip Bread has the most wonderful texture – a lightly crunchy crust and an ooey-gooey center.
Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins on a plate with blueberries
Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins have a sweet-tart Lemon Orange Glaze for a light, bright flavor.


Blueberry muffins are ubiquitous. What sets these apart is the Lemon Orange Glaze. It’s not just lemon, and it’s not just orange. The combination is fresh and full of sunshine. It makes these blueberry muffins special.           

Blueberry muffins sitting on wire rack to cool
The Lemon Orange Glaze elevates these blueberry muffins, a recipe from Renny Darling.
Four loaves of orange date nut bread cooling on a wire rack.
Orange Date Nut Bread is a taste of the past – and yet so perfect for now.

Orange Date Nut Bread with Orange Glaze

This Orange Date Nut Bread with Orange Glaze is another of my favorite Renny Darling recipes. It is super moist and so full of flavorful. Orange Date Nut Bread with Orange Glaze

A stack of Renny Darling cookbooks
These are some of my vintage Renny Darling cookbooks.


  • Easiest & Best Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads
  • Entertaining Fast and Fancy
  • Great Beginnings to Happy Endingns
  • With Love from Darling’s Kitchen
  • The Joy of Cooking
  • Vegetarian Fast and Fancy 


She sold millions, so it’s not hard to find copies. ThriftBooksAbeBooks and Alibris seem to have lots of Renny’s cookbooks. Most are only a couple of dollars.

Every page of Renny's cookbooks is illustrated with charm and love.
Every page of Renny’s cookbooks is illustrated with charm and love.

MORE 1980s: Interested in more 1980s foods? Here’s a list of the most popular recipes of that decade, according to AllRecipes.

Banana Chocolate Chip bread on a marble slab
Renny’s banana chocolate chip bread is the best banana bread I’ve ever tried.

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