There comes a time in life when you have to face your fears. For me, this time was yesterday.
Fear #1: Using an electric mixer.
I’m old school, guys. When it comes to baking (which I rarely do, and which up until yesterday always included a box of mix), I prefer to just throw things into a bowl, stir it with a spoon, pour it into a pan, and lick the bowl. Simple. None of this Which speed should I put it on? and Oh, now it’s going to splatter everywhere stuff that you run into with an electric mixer. Will I admit it was pretty convenient to be able to leave the mixer on while I washed out bowls and attempted to crack eggs? Sure. But will I also admit I was terrified the entire time because machines that I don’t understand scare me? I mean, you never know what they’re going to do. Have you ever seen I, Robot?
Fear #2: The oven.
I don’t know where this phobia came from. I think it probably stems from the fact that my body is extremely sensitive to pain, so anything with the potential to hurt me is a little frightening. I bet it also has to do with the fact that I’ve burned myself many times in the past (although, to be fair, it was probably my fault for touching the pan/cupcake tin/etc. with my bare hand/arm/stomach immediately after removing it from the hot oven). Still, the oven is an inherently dangerous entity. So to have to open it every 5 minutes to rotate the 4 little banana bread pans was nothing short of a character-defining test. I’m not sure whether I passed, because every single time it took me 2 minutes to turn the pans because I was being so careful not to touch the oven itself, and I’m still scared of ovens.
Fear #3: Soggy bread.
The perennial problem with baking is that you inevitably have to choose between making the edges of your food too dark and crisp and burned, or leaving the middle too light and soggy and raw. At least, that’s how I’ve been raised to think of it. With some things, that’s an easy choice to make. Raw cookies? Delicious. Raw brownies? Not the worst thing I’ve ever had. But raw bread? Now you’re getting into disgusting territory. Since bread pudding is one of the worst-textured foods in the world to me, it follows that under-cooked banana bread is also one of the worst-textured foods. Also, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether the middle will be soggy before you’ve taken the bread out of the oven, let it sit for an hour, and then cut it open. Sure, you can do the toothpick test, but when the bread is full of melted chocolate chips, the toothpick will never come out completely clean. So you just never know. Since burned things are inedible to me, I decided to err on the underdone side.
So let’s recap: Yesterday, I used an electric mixer to make something that would go in the oven and come out soggy. Good day for facing fears. Not so good day for eating banana bread. Don’t get me wrong; I still ate it. No way was I letting all of that hard work and fear-facing go to waste. Plus, it’s banana bread with chocolate chips. You can nearly ruin it and it will still end up tasting pretty good.