NOVEMBER 12, 2012



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.


Terri Wu's:
See Recipe See the recipe for Terri Wu's Vegan Banana-Coffee Bread



Vegan Experiments

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.

Black Out

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.

Vegan Banana-Coffee Bread
Vegan Banana-Coffee Bread


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


Measuring cups and spoons

Coffee grinder or spice mill

Dry and liquid measuring cup

Mixing bowls

Wooden spoon

Plastic wrap

9-by-5-inch loaf pan

Parchment paper

Large fine-mesh sieve or flour sifter

Potato masher or fork


Rubber spatula

Aluminum foil

Cake tester or wood skewer

Paring knife


Bread knife


1. In a coffee grinder or spice mill, grind until fine the:

  • Flaxseeds

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.

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