There is something amazing to be said about making mistakes. I am a true believer that they give us the best opportunities to learn and to grow. As much as I hate making mistakes, as I am growing up and facing the real world I am learning to accept and embrace that they happen. I can use them as an opportunity for self development so that the next time I am in that situation I can do better. Admitting that I am wrong is both embarrassing and humbling. However, I know that I am my best self when I am living in humility with complete authenticity.
This amazing TED radio hour from NPR on making mistakes really shaped the way that I deal with failure. Admitting that we are wrong not only helps us, but others around us. It is definitely worth downloading and listening to if you get a chance, or just watching the TED talks connected with it that are linked on that page.
Reflecting on it, it is amazing to think about how many of my greatest successes have arisen from seemingly disastrous situations. In fact, I probably made one of the best desserts that I have ever made on the weekend after salvaging it from a battered mess.
My aunty had bought some fantastic fresh figs and wanted to use them for dessert. We had also picked up some lemons at the market in the morning for the prawns. A while ago she had bought this amazing Mediterranean cookbook and had showed me one of the recipes for a Yoghurt Tatlisi (Yoghurt cake with syrup). Although she didn’t even remember it, for some reason the recipe stuck in my head. I knew that we had the ingredients, and so I decided that it would be a great idea to use the incredible ingredients that we had to make it for dessert. Although I enjoy baking, I don’t often make traditional desserts because I don’t really eat them. However, living a balanced life means indulging well every so often (or with alarming frequency over Easter it seems – can you blame me?).
Everything was going well until I turned on the oven. Cooking in somebody else’s kitchen is always a bit painful. You don’t know what ingredients they have (my aunty keeps a very well stocked pantry, but finding everything is not always easy) and appliances (namely ovens) behave in their own unique way. I have always been confused about turning on my aunty’s oven due to her timer. Unfortunately, she trusted that I had done the right thing when I asked her to check, and so I ended up turning the oven onto the wrong setting. Whoops. Consequently, when the cake was not cooking evenly after an hour and a quarter, I was not sure what the problem was so I decided to move the cake to the top shelf. As I was moving the cake and shuffling around the beetroot roasting on the top rack I lost grip of the cake… And dropped it all over the oven door. Because the case was still half raw, it went everywhere.
I love my aunty, but I wouldn’t put “deals well with her niece wreaking kitchen havoc” on her resume. Let’s just say that she was somewhat unimpressed by what I had done (to be honest, I don’t blame her – I made a total mess). Even as we tried to clean up the batter running all over the oven door and down the draws, I was determined to make the dessert incredible. So I put my lumpy mess back in the oven to let it continue to cook.
You may have noticed that rustic looking desserts are very in vogue right now. So I found some trifle bowls and plated up a crumbled fig and yoghurt tatlisi drizzled with a lemon honey syrup and toasted almonds. And it was divine. The figs complemented so well with the citrus of the lemon, and the yoghurt gives the cake this amazing light richness that is kept moist by the syrup. Wow. I find these kinds of desserts perfect at Easter as an alternative to the over abundance of chocolate (is there even such a thing?) .
Although I would probably recommend not dropping the cake everywhere halfway through baking it, each to their own I suppose.
I told you I figsed it.
- 185 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 cup Greek natural yoghurt
- 2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 and 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cm strip lemon rind
- 1 tbls lemon rind
- 2 tbls honey
- Preheat the oven the 180 degrees Celcius and lightly grease a 20cm x 10 cm loaf tin. Line the base of the tin with sliced figs
- Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the eggs yolks gradually, beating well after each addition. Stir in the yoghurt, lemon rind and vanilla essence. Fold in the flour, bicarb soda and baking powder with a metal spoon.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until stiff and gently fold into the mixture. Spoon into the tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- While the tatlisi is baking, make the syrup. Place the sugar and cinnamon stick in a small saucpan with 3/4 cup cold water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, add the lemon rind and juice, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Strain, then pour the syrup all over the hot cake and wait for most of it to be absorbed before you serve the cake. Alternatively, crumble the cake into a bowl for each person and then drizzle the syrup over each individual one, sprinkle with almonds and present extra syrup separately when serving.
- Serving suggestion: top with toasted almonds and vanilla ice cream