Saturday, 16 August 2014

Life Lessons & Banana Bread

After closing the front door behind me, I headed straight for the kitchen. Almost completely black and therefore perfectly ripe they were just waiting to be mashed and transformed into something delicious: 5 mini bananas I'd bought for this exact purpose a few days earlier.
So i turned on my oven and got started. Liquids and bananas into the blender, dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix it together, let it rest, pour it into a loaf tin. Some flaked coconut on top - done.
All there was left to do was wait while the unmistakeable smell of banana bread slowly filled my kitchen. It's the kind of smell you want to have in a bottle to sniff on when you're feeling down, the smell that hugs you the way a fluffy blanket and hot chocolate does. It's also the kind of smell that makes cleaning up your kitchen a whole lot easier.

The 60 minutes felt much longer than that and I practically jumped up from my couch when the timer finally went off. A toothpick came out clean and I couldn't hold my excitement over how gorgeous the bread looked. Warm, gooey, slightly caramelized banana slices and toasted coconut flakes on top really do make all the difference when it comes to the aesthetics of banana bread.

A quarter of an hour later I decided it was time to take the loaf out of its baking tin and cut myself a slice. I noticed the bottom part of the bread was unusually moist and suddenly, I didn't feel as confident about the outcome of my little baking adventure anymore. The first cut confirmed my doubts: the inside of the bread was still extremely wet and gooey and the texture reminded me of scrambled eggs. I turned the oven back on, put the failed loaf back into the tin and the oven, hoping that 20 more minutes would maybe make it right. Experience said otherwise, the texture was nothing like a banana bread should be and I knew nothing would be able to solve that but I couldn't simply give up on this loaf.
I ended up leaving it in the oven for another 40 minutes and then went to bed with the tiny bit of hope that the bread would be less moist once it had dried. It wasn't.

When I first took that bread out of the oven, I was so thrilled. I couldn't wait for it to be cool enough for me to enjoy a slice, something I'd been dreaming of for over 4 days. I'd bought the bananas, endured the torture of not being able to eat them, reread the recipe I was going to use about 25 times. On my last day of work, I wasn't planning to go out and celebrate, no, I was looking forward to going home to bake. And I love the act of baking by itself more than I'd like to admit but in the end, it still is more about the result than the process. It is the (literal) piece of cake at the end of the road that makes me spend hours in the kitchen measuring out flour, melting chocolate and kneading dough.

So yes, i was disappointed about the way this bread tuned out (or rather, didn't turn out). My first reaction was self-blame ("you must have misread the recipe"), then blaming others ("this recipe simply doesn't work") followed by regret ("why didn't I use the recipe I always do"). However, none of these reactions change the fact that things didn't work out the way I'd wanted them to.

If I had used my usual go-to recipe, I would have wondered whether a different one might have tasted better cause that's the way I am. I adore trying out new recipes and I have to embrace the fact that sometimes, this leads to failure. However, failure simultaneously means progress, learning how not to do something. It also means having to learn to accept that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how excited you are or how much you want things to work out, they don't. And that's not the end of the world.

p.s. I used this recipe by the way and even though it didn't work for me, maybe it will for some of you. Let me know if it does.

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