Meet the banana bread woman

EVERY day is a new day for a new beginning, the reason for our existence that develops the spirit of hustling for a better tomorrow.

It is with no doubt that women have been paving the path for entrepreneurs in every industry for many decades. Women impresarios have been able to withstand economic and business pressures to be the best.

Most entrepreneurs and executives still tend to be men, but more and more women are becoming business leaders and innovators.

While there are a handful of women founders from the past, such as Estée Lauder, the last few decades have marked a great upsurge in self-made women in business.

Women entrepreneurs are historically mostly known for running fashion houses or cosmetic companies, but more recently, many have made their mark in other industries, such as real estate, biopharma and bakeries.

Meet a successful baker and a lecturer from St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) who owns a home bakery called “N-EMPIRE Bakery” A taste for all, Ms Neema Rugemalira who bakes quality and tasty banana bread.

N-EMPIRE stands for Nuru, Neema, Nolan and Norbert as it is a family business.

It has been 8 years of success despite low and high seasons, limited time, fluctuation of products and electricity shortage as her customers are SAUT students and lecturers.

The amazing part is how she handles her duties, being a mother of two, a wife and a baker catering for more than a thousand students and lecturers who order three times a week.

Her working spirit is what inspires many women who are close to her, thinking about how home bakery has given her a home, pays bills and yet having that life she desires for her family.

Speaking to our ‘Woman Reporter’ recently, Ms Rugemalira said her journey started in 2015 as a trial basis in her three-room and small kitchen house at Nyegezi Stand in Mwanza, where she rented and lived with her family.

She said she was inspired by Coco, a Nigerian baker known as indulgebycocong on Instagram, saying banana bread is on the list of things she loves baking but later she got interested in cakes, biscuits and pizza.

She declares that apart from her having a job and support from her husband, the business has also helped them build their own house, pay bills and fees for their two boys.

She says the growing preference towards convenient foods, along with the rising ex-pat population and changing lifestyle of people, is escalating the demand for bakery products globally.

“Bakery products like biscuits are being innovated and specifically produced to meet the changing lifestyles and demands of consumers,” she told our reporter, and added, “biscuits with natural ingredients like grain, low-calorie sweeteners, whole wheat are considered to be more appealing among consumers, especially diabetic consumers.”

Ms Rugemalira says banana bread has been a staple diet for many students. The convenience, accessibility and nutrition profile associated with them are significant factors that have sustained these products in the SAUT market.

She says banana bread is not only included in people’s daily diets in developed countries, but also in underdeveloped or developing economies.

She said most of the customers prefer to consume natural, vegan, and free from artificial additives products, which has led to the launch of various free-from products.

Many people wonder why it’s called “bread” instead of “cake”. According to the website of Gina Burgess, there are some fundamental differences between bread and cake.

Bread is typically defined as a baked product made from flour, water and yeast, while cake is made from flour, sugar, eggs and butter or oil.

Some key differences between bread and cake:

Bread has a dense texture and is chewy, while cake is soft and crumbly. Bread is usually not sweet, while cake is sweet due to the addition of sugar.

Bread is typically leavened with yeast, while cake uses baking powder or baking soda to rise.

Bread is made with minimal ingredients, while cake often includes additional ingredients such as milk, butter, and eggs. Bread is often served as a side to a meal, while cake is typically served as a dessert.

These differences explain why banana bread is considered a hybrid between bread and cake. While it is made with flour, sugar, and baking powder or soda like a cake, it often includes bananas and other ingredients that are more commonly found in bread recipes.

This unique combination of ingredients gives banana bread its distinct flavour and texture, making it a favourite among dessert lovers everywhere.

Despite its cake-like qualities, Gina Burgess shows that banana bread is called “bread” because of its origins. The original recipe for banana bread used yeast as a leavening agent, which gave it a bread-like texture and flavour.

By calling it “bread,” banana bread was marketed as a healthier alternative that could be enjoyed at any time of the day, rather than just as a dessert.

While modern banana bread recipes may not use yeast and have a cake-like texture, the name “banana bread” has stuck due to the dish’s origins and historical references. Whether you call it bread or cake, one thing is certain: banana bread is a delicious and satisfying dessert that is sure to please anyone with a sweet tooth.

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