We tackled pizza last week. Now, CNET's staff is turning its collective attention to yet another (mostly) gluten-based salve. Enter: banana bread.
Senior Editor Sarah Mitroff kicks things off with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. with a minor tweak. Sarah says she went with "added chocolate chunks and no crunchy sugar topping."
Senior Video Producer Andy Altman escalated matters. Says Andy, "I used this recipe, but made it gluten-free with King Arthur gluten-free flour. Also doubled the bananas."
In other words, Andy started with a recipe called "Banana Banana Bread," thus implying already high banana levels. He then doubled them.
Our Senior European Correspondent, Katie Collins, made "Bon Appetit's best banana bread with three types of chocolate chips and a crunchy sugar topping." Bonus points for the superb dramatic lighting.
Senior Editor Alison Denisco-Rayome made her banana bread based on this Food.com recipe, with added dark chocolate chips. "It was very delicious and moist (apologies to those who hate that word) and made the house smell amazing."
Senior Director of Product Karen Badenfort says, "We also made the Smitten Kitchen Ultimate Banana Bread on Monday. The kids had a lot of fun mashing the bananas!"
Tania Gonzalez, our Senior Audience Engagement Developer, made this banana nut bread from Food.com.
"Instead of sugar I used a monk fruit and erythritol blend. I added a top of brown sugar and cinnamon because I love the crunch."
Executive VP and General Manager of the whole dang CNET Media Group Mark Larkin (i.e., my boss's boss's boss's boss) pitched in, too. He chose a recipe from The Baker Mama, that apparently inspired gross insubordination from his family.
Says Mark, "I turned around to get my phone for a pic, and it went from loaf to this attached photo before I knew it!"
Reporter and fellow Louisville resident Shelby Brown shares another example of the Best Banana Bread Recipe from Bon Appetite, but with a regional spin.
"My husband's first attempt at banana bread was amazing. He used buttermilk instead of Greek yogurt, though, because it's the South."
Managing Editor Jonathan Skillings shares this textbook-looking banana bread.
"Our bananas weren't going to make it to the weekend, so here's our bread. The recipe is from the classic Joy of Cooking."
"Our first attempt and it turned out great," says Senior Product Manager Marc Bennett, who used a Martha Stewart recipe. "It was probably in for a minute too long, but the taste was unaffected. We used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and left out the nuts and chocolate chips."
"If one loaf is good, two loaves are better. And banana bread without chocolate chips is a crime against humanity. We added about 1.5 cups of chocolate chips and split it across two loaf pans, because otherwise it never seemed to cook all the way through."
Associate Video Producer Brad Gentile took a no-flour approach with this banana bread.
"Since I don't bake ever, I've never bought flour or sugar, but have oats and a blender, so I looked for recipes that use oat flour and no sugar (bread has maple syrup)."
Brad's recipe came from the Ruchik Randhap cooking blog.
Associate Managing Editor Cliff Colby found a recipe on the Food Network site and went to town, substituting sour cream for milk.
"I just took our banana bread out of the oven, and the house does smell good."
Leave it to search expert editor Karisa Langlo to nail two kitchen trends in one picture. Note: she's also done this while caring for a newborn.
"I emerged from the fugue of maternity leave to discover that everyone was making dalgona coffee and banana bread, so I made dalgona coffee and banana bread."
For the bread, Karisa made this one from AllRecipes, but "I doctored it up with a few ingredients, including Nutella."
Director Gabby Medecki made this banana/lemon bread mash-up from Food.com called Banana/Lemon Sensation. It won't be the last time lemons make an appearance in this gallery.
Editorial director Jason Hiner shares his complete recipe for vegan banana bread below, which he describes as "an amalgamation of a few different recipes from the internet."
Vegan Banana Bread
4 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce (or vegetable oil)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground ground flax + 3 tbsp water) (or a chicken egg)
1/4 cup plant-based milk (or cow's milk)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (or coconut sugar or finely chopped dates)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (to stir in)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (for topping)
1 sliced banana (for topping)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray, then flour.
2. In a large mixing bowl, roughly mash the bananas. Add all the wet ingredients (maple syrup, applesauce, vanilla, plant milk, etc.) and whisk together.
3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves) in a separate bowl and gradually add it to the wet ingredients.
4. Transfer the batter to your pan, and top with the extra banana slices and chopped walnuts.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes longer, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
This little baking project inspired the kind of debate for which the Internet is so uniquely suited, kicked off by non-bread-making Senior Editor and video host Claire Reilly.
Opines Claire, "Whereas I was never able to eat sugar growing up and discovered -- only about a YEAR ago -- that you've ALLLLL been lying and "banana bread" is just breakfast cake!!! Kudos to you all for the clever rebranding."
Editor and actual bread maker Patricia Puentes picks up Claire's baton of inquiry to further this essential discussion.
"I think Claire has a point. To me this feels more like cake than bread."
Is that banana bread I smell, or a Twitter poll?
Getting back to the root of the matter, Patricia says "Whatever you call it, it's delicious. I made Flour's Famous Banana Bread from pastry chef Joanne Chang's cookbook, which is also available online.
I normally make several variations to it. I use a little less than 2/3 of the sugar in the recipe, substitute crème fraîche for whole milk yogurt and use light olive oil instead of canola. And I skip the walnuts."
Senior Writer Megan Wollerton went to the Old Grey Lady for inspiration, but then took matters into her own hands.
"I used this NY Times recipe, but added peanut butter and chocolate chips instead of Nutella. The browned butter was 'OK sign emoji.'"
Props to Megan for going outside the boundaries of both the New York Times and our own, non-emoji-supporting content management system.
Executive editor Hana Asbrink, from our sister site Chowhound, put her own spin on this beloved recipe from James Beard-award winning baker Joanne Chang.
"Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery banana bread is a family favorite, and we've been putting a black sesame seeded twist on it during quarantine. (Adding extra chocolate chips too because we need to at a time like this.)" Looks gorgeous.
For my own effort I went locavore. My backyard garden here in Louisville has been a solace during this period of quarantine. I often go there to simply reflect on the bounty nature can provide for us when we're willing to slow down and really see what she has to offer.
It was there that I caught the sunlight glinting through a particular shade of amber that I knew exactly what to do with my attempt at banana bread. Thankful, I plucked a bottle of Four Roses bourbon off the vine and brought it inside to make this Chocolate Bourbon-spiked Banana Bread from the Leite's Culinaria food blog.
"I love bananas, just not in bread," says Senior Video Producer Mitchell Chang. "First attempt at Milk Bread although it doesn't look like the traditional Japanese method. It was really good."
"Yes, we have no bananas," says CNET Editor-in-Chief Connie Guglielmo, "so I made lemon-walnut bread with the Meyer lemons from my garden (#SiliconValley.) Need just one large lemon -- lemon peel and some juice inside, and then rest of the juice with a little bit of sugar for a glaze. I used canola oil instead of butter/margarine and it tastes great."
Senior reporter Shara Tibken also shifted course, partly from a lack of banana availability.
"I wasn't feeling banana bread (and had no bananas), so I decided to make zucchini bread. I used the recipe my mom baked all the time when I was younger. It normally makes two loaves, so I cut it in half -- which was very interesting when it came to figuring out what exactly constituted 1.5 eggs. hahaha. I must have done OK, though, because it smelled heavenly and tasted just like I remembered from my childhood."
In addition to his no-flour oat-based bread, Brad Gentile says he has also been trying different kinds of waffles lately
Butter pecan oat waffles
Used regular milk (what I had)
Used chopped wWalnuts instead of pecans because I already had them from the bread recipe
Made 2 large round waffles. Then I just break into quarters and do 2 (1/2 a large waffle) each morning. I use either fresh or frozen mixed berries as the main topping of waffles. Just microwave them to a hot chunky syrup as I toast the waffles each morning."
"Amazing work, everyone, but I've got you all beat."
Like many journalists, Executive Editor Mark Serrels has confused lurking on Twitter with doing actual work.