Baking & Business

What Banana Bread is Teaching Me About Business I know I've already shared how baking actually helps me with fashion. But, yesterday I got a great business lesson when I made banana bread. Because I completely failed at it. It came out of the oven completely burnt to a crisp while smelling like ash and...well...burnt bananas. Not pleasant.

Completely frustrating.

I've made this recipe a number of times, and the first time it came out perfectly. The other four times something went terribly wrong. Since I started baking six months ago I've had lots of success with sweets, but I've continuously failed at all variations of breads. It's my baking Achilles' heel.

Later on in the evening I decided to read a few chapters of A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (who writes the highly successful blog Orangette).

In the book she gives a recipe for banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger. My first thought was, "I'm gonna give that a shot," even with the fumes of burnt bread still wafting in from my kitchen.

Business has taught me quite a bit about failure. I seem to always be volleying between success and ruin. I love, love being a fashion consultant, but the market is incredibly difficult and the possibility of shutting down my doors is always lurking around the corner. I'm trying to learn more about when to keep pushing through and when it is best to throw in the towel. It's a very fine line.

What I've learned is that there are no absolutes. I've got to learn how to hold on to the important part of my vision while remaining flexible enough to allow it to grow if life is pushing me in another direction. I've got to be willing to make colossal mistakes and have everything burn to a crisp. Then, I need to get my head back in the game and get back out there.

Failing at baking is teaching me how to take my ego out of completely messing up. It's not personal - it's banana bread. I obviously did something wrong, and I'm trying to backtrack to see what went awry so I can learn from my mistakes. In business I'm trying new things, learning, and meeting new people. Some of my ideas are going to go down with a thud. Some of them will stick. But, the true test is to continue to continue.

The dream of perfect banana bread is a goal. The dream of dressing men and women so they feel attractive and confident while realizing a true connection to what is internal and what is external is my passion. I'm going to keep fighting for both visions.

Banana Bread with Chocolate & Crystalized Ginger

from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)

1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not lowfat / nonfat)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. (Take care to do this on medium power and in short bursts; if the heat is too high, butter will sometimes splatter or explode. Or, alternatively, put putter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the preheated oven.) Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. (The same fork works fine for this.) Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.

Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing - unless you absolutely can't help yourself, in which case, dig in.

Note: Fully cooled, this bread freezes beautifully. And it tastes delicious cold, straight from the freezer. To protect it from frost, wrap it in plastic wrap and then again in aluminum foil.