MEET THE SOUS CHEF
TERRI WU, PASTRY CHEF, FARALLON
When Terri Wu started at Farallon a dozen years ago, she had, by her own admission, “no idea what I was doing.” Prior to starting at the San Francisco restaurant, she and was co-owner of a bike messenger company.
She began in the savory kitchen and quickly transitioned to the pastry department, which she now leads. A bike accident last summer--and its accompanying six fractured bones--has sidelined the chef for much of 2011, but she used her time away from work wisely, experimenting with vegan desserts, using her vegan brother as a guinea pig. Her vegan banana bread is enriched with nutty flaxseed and whole wheat flour, flavored with coffee and moistened by a combination of oil and vegan mayonnaise.
TRACK THIS CHEF
DAY IN THE LIFE
Wu is recovering from a bike accident, but prior to that the avid cyclist picked up produce at the farmers' markets on her cargo bike and pedaled it back to Farallon. She's also rock climbs in her spare time.
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Wu admits that vegan baking is difficult, requiring plenty of trial and error. To give her banana bread some structure and a nutty flavor, she uses ground flaxseed in the mixture, which she soaks in brewed coffee. Vegan mayonnaise and oil give the loaf moisture.
For beginning bakers, Wu recommends mastering a single recipe, like one for an amazing chocolate cake. “You can use that as a building block, experimenting with different frostings or mix-ins.” For vegans, it’s also easy to find recipes for flourless chocolate cakes.
One 9-inch loaf
Flaxseeds, ¼ cup
Coffee, freshly brewed and hot, ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons
Canola or grapeseed oil, ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon, divided
All-purpose flour, 1 1/3 cups plus 2 teaspoons, divided
Whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup
Baking soda, 1 teaspoon
Ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon
Ripe bananas, 4 large or 5 small, peeled
Vegan mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons
Vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Granulated sugar, 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons
Coffee grinder or spice mill
Dry and liquid measuring cup
Large fine-mesh sieve or flour sifter
Cake tester or wood skewer
1. In a coffee grinder or spice mill, grind until fine the:
Add the ground flaxseeds to a medium bowl and use the wooden spoon to stir in the:
- Hot coffee
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture becomes gelatinous, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat the loaf pan with:
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Shake the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Tap out the excess.
3. Place 2 large pieces of parchment paper on the counter. Over the sheet, sift together:
- 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- Whole wheat flour
- Baking soda
- Ground cinnamon
Repeat sifting the dry ingredients over the second sheet of parchment, then sift a third time onto the first sheet of parchment. Transfer the dry mixture to a large bowl.
4. In a medium bowl, use the potato masher to mash the:
- Peeled bananas
Use the wooden spoon to stir in the:
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Vanilla extract
- Kosher salt
5. Remove the coffee-flax mixture from the fridge and whisk in the:
- Granulated sugar
Whisk in the remaining:
- ½ cup oil
Use a rubber spatula to fold the flax mixture into the flour mixture until a few dry streaks remain, then fold in the banana-mayonnaise mixture.
6. Once the batter is completely combined, use the rubber spatula to transfer it to the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes, and if the top looks dark, loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Continue to bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the center resists light pressure, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool completely before running a paring knife around the loaf and inverting it onto a platter. Use the bread knife to slice the banana bread into 1-inch-thick pieces and serve.