opera cake

Like many fans around the world, I thoroughly enjoy the TV cooking series “Great British Bake Off”. However, there is a new kid on the block – “The Great British Bake off Crème”. This takes baking into a whole new stratosphere, with professional teams demonstrating astonishing skills and creativity in patisserie – the making of small, exquisite cakes. I have watched the first few episodes with bated breath, not so much for the amazing cakes produced, but for the almost impossibly exacting standards required by the judges.

One such cake produced is called the opera cake. It is produced in very fine layers, and then sliced with millimetre precision. Beautiful to look at, and so tough to make.

It struck me that life is often lived in layers. We have different roles, and many of those roles might appear insignificant to others. However, they ultimately make up the whole, and can be precious.

But there are also other types of layers. Stresses and strains that layer one on top of another, day in and day out. In themselves, we might consider them to be unimportant, lightweight, and of no consequence. But there often comes a moment when the last layer crushes all the others. When life becomes too much, and no-one saw it coming – least of us all. What results is a meltdown – graphically portrayed in the last chocolate topping of an opera cake, which would not set, and slowly seeped down over these precise layers, ruining the effect and disqualifying the master bakers.

Many of us have to learn how to build up tolerance to stress through repeated exposure. If we had no stress, we would actually be quite weak emotionally. But it is how we handle – and interpret – those stresses that can determine our ability to turn layers of pain into layers of strength, and ultimate beauty.



Have you experienced a meltdown? How did you interpret this?

Maturity and strength do not come from never being exposed to stress – but rather, how you recover from it when it comes

Do you need to take some time out to recover, or would it be better to choose to eliminate some of the “layers” in the first place – to practise saying “no” wisely?





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