I’m not quite sure how it all happened, but lately I’ve found myself giving a lot of pep talks on how it’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect. Me, the one who spends most of their time battling soul-crushing anxiety about those very things; mistake making and imperfection.
And despite my tendency to shy away from all things advice-related, I’ve found I actually have something to share on this subject. Of course, not the obvious truth: that I too am allowed to falter every once in a while and we all need to cut ourselves some slack. No, that would be far too logical.
The most valuable things I’ve been able to share are simply the stories of my own truly horrific, epic failures. Times that I’ve had total meltdowns, completely choked or found myself sprawled out on the bathroom floor, a lump of worthless humanity. That one time I got so stressed out while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the stress and Buffy were actually unrelated) that I was sure I was having a heart attack and called an ambulance. That time I went in to open the restaurant at 6 a.m. not feeling so well, and ended up laying on the floor of the public (eew) bathroom until my husband came and picked me up two hours later. Basketball games where I choked, or played horrible. Presentations that totally flopped. Times where I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth, hurt feelings and made relational faux paus.
You name it, I’ve screwed it up. And I think the best, most important thing I have to say to someone worried about and lamenting over failing are the words, “I’ve failed, too. Oh boy have I failed.” It seems every time I’ve swallowed my pride and thrown one of my flops out on the table for all to see, others suddenly feel safe to drop their facades and join in. Because talking about failure inevitably brings humor into the equation, and humor has a way of erasing fear. And fear of failing is almost always far worse than the failure itself.
This almond, orange, fennel cake was not a total failure, because it’s cake and cake is almost always delicious. But it definitely didn’t turn out quite as perfect and beautiful as I’d imagined it would. The cake came out of the pan in chunks, rather than one uniform ring. It was a little more moist than I anticipated and soaked up the glaze like a sponge. The glaze itself was a little too runny and didn’t set up in picture perfect drizzles like I’d planned. But the flavor was sweet and warm, the texture was light and airy, and at the end of the day, I’d made a perfectly good cake. Sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar and all styled up for a photoshoot, I thought my little cake actually looked pretty snazzy.
Funny how good a few mistakes and imperfections can turn out, huh?
- 3 cups almond flour/meal
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/3 cup Cara Cara orange juice
- zest of one orange
- juice & zest from one orange for glaze
- 1 cup organic powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large bundt pan WELL.
- Toast fennel seeds in a saute pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Crush in a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle.
- Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and fennel seed powder in a bowl. Separately, mix eggs, yogurt, honey, vanilla bean, orange juice and zest. Combine wet ingredients into dry.
- Pour batter into pan and smooth until flat. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, you can make the glaze by zesting and juicing one orange into the cup of powdered sugar. Add more powdered sugar as needed to reach desired glaze consistency.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so. Invert the pan to release the cake, tapping gently against the counter.
- Once cake is cool, glaze or top with powdered sugar. Or both.