Pecan Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Remember last week when I was bummed about my new job and how I just felt like I was doing a bad job every day, no matter how hard I tried? 

Yesterday, I decided that I had had enough of the stress, anxiety, and confusion. I talked to the pastry chef and told him how I felt about the job and how overwhelming it was for someone with such little experience in the industry. And I told him it just wasn't working for me. I quit.

Now, hear me out before you call me a quitter. I don't want to go into too many details about my job, but the bottom line was that I had to completely manage my station without really knowing how, I was being told two different things from two different people on how to run it, and I wasn't physically making anything, just assembling things.

I came in early, I tried to be efficient, I asked for help and advice, I tried my best, yet every day, I still felt like I was just a hassle to every one else. At home, all I thought about what how to improve, how I was going to avoid making mistakes, and how to deal with the stress. But it never seemed to help.

Added to all that was the fact that I wasn't creating anything. I was assembling things that everyone else had made and putting them in boxes. There wasn't much of an opportunity to learn other things, there was just no time. 

It was a tough decision for me. I wanted to be good at that job. It's a great place and it had some great people there. But I dreaded going to work every day. I would lose sleep over it, I would wake up nervous, I would be worrying all day and all night. It ended up taking a toll on me and I couldn't take it. I guess I did give up, but I feel like I made the right choice for myself. 

I'm feeling a strange mix of happy and sad right now. Happy that I don't have to deal with the immense stress of that job, but sad that I couldn't hack it there. I'm happy that I realized that it was hurting me mentally and did something about it, but I'm sad that I wasn't strong enough to deal with that stress in the first place. 

At the end of the day, this is all part of my learning curve. I learned some things about myself that I didn't know before and that's always a good thing. And who knows, maybe in a few years, I'll be thankful for this whole experience because it led me somewhere wonderful. 

Until then, I'm going to take a few days off, bake some things, and look for a new place to work.

Pecan Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

79 g dark chocolate, chopped into large chunks
35 g pecans
180 g all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
454 g (about 2 to 3) very ripe bananas
47 g canola or other neutral tasting oil
100 g sugar
1 large egg
58 g sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Either butter or spray a loaf, then flour it. Knock out any excess flour and then refrigerate the loaf pan in the fridge to set it while you make the batter.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Toast the pecans for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are fragrant and darker in colour. Remove from the oven, let them cool completely, and roughly chop them.

Combine the chocolate chunks and the pecans in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and toss to coat. Set aside.

Sift the remaining flour and the baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the salt. Set aside.

Peel the bananas, cut them into chunks, and place them in the bowl of an electric mixer. On low speed, using the paddle, beat the bananas to a smooth puree until no large lumps remain. You should have about 1 cup of banana puree at this point. If you don't have 1 cup, add more bananas.

Still on low speed, add the oil, sugar, egg, and sour cream. Mix until everything is combined and the banana is well incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Add the chocolate and pecans and combine briefly with the paddle until everything is just incorporated into the batter.

Spread the batter into a prepared pan. 

Spray a bench scraper with vegetable spray and gently press it into the middle of the loaf in order to create a nice, even crack along the line you have just created.

Bale the banana bread for 60 to 70 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to the batter. For the best rise, do not open the oven door while the banana bread is baking. 

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Unmold the banana bread, then cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.