A lesson on looking beyond the surface

Lemon Delicious

Young people are naive. And I don’t say that to sound old. I am still quite young myself, but the older I grow and the more my mind opens up to new and different perspectives about life, the more I realise how true this is. A lot of young people seem to think they have their own minds- all the statements made about being unique- but almost always it’s as if they (or we) have been brainwashed with concepts of which things are more “worthy” of time and attention than others.

At some point during my younger years, I was one of those teenagers who were quick to judge the worth of something based on how they impress me upon first glance. I remember when I was fresh out of university at 19, I had considered job offers in several big-name companies with “glass house”-type offices.

It didn’t help that nosy outsiders who had no pertinent knowledge on the matter kept whispering in my ear that this company or another had a big name and a solid reputation, as if these points were all that mattered in picking a job. I let my imagination run away with their words of a spectacular future then and was stupid enough to accept a very professional-sounding position in this well-known company despite the odd nagging sensation inside me.


Looking back on that time, I can only shake my head at myself. Aside from not being the type of person made for a typical corporate office job, I also wasn’t the type to do something just for the sake of keeping up appearances. I have always been the sort of person who simply wanted to do my best while still being myself, and it’s always worked for me. And I have always strived to do things that I know will make me happy, because in the end I can pour my efforts into it and feel like I had not wasted my time. I don’t know what happened to me then that I would let myself get carried away by all the talk, by all the expectations of the people who did not matter. I guess it really was naivete on my part.

You know, for all the grandeur of the place, I actually hated my job. I hated how there was absolutely zero chance for the kind of growth that I wanted. I felt very much like a caterpillar trapped inside a cocoon that would not open and let me turn into a butterfly. I felt miserable.

At times I would remember this phrase my Dad used to say to me all the time: Not all things that come in pretty packages are what they seem. He keeps saying that to me in hopes of, I suppose, embedding it into my mind. But I had to learn it the hard way. And it’s a lesson I will never forget. It is a mistake to ever judge things largely by how they look. Sometimes something so simple and unassuming could have so much magic in it. Sometimes a thing that looks perfect on the outside can have a rotten, maggot-infested core.

(I’m sorry I had to use the word ‘maggot’ in a food post. There’s a recipe in here somewhere, I promise.)


Take this simplistic little dessert for instance. It’s virtually a plain old round lemon cake. But you might be surprised to find out that hidden beneath is a yummy lemony pudding that really picks this cake up in terms of flavour and texture.

I saw this dessert in Junior Masterchef Australia, and I watched as one of the judges flipped the ramekin over. The bottom had this nice lemon syrup that oozed down the length of the cake as it stood newly inverted on the plate. That was the moment I knew I had to make this. Unfortunately, mine did not have a syrupy bottom at all (I am still searching for such a recipe), but it certainly had a tangy pudding-like surprise bottom; a delicious contrast against the soft cake. Sometimes the plainest-looking things can surprise you.

Screen Shot 2013 09 07 at 10.04.24 PM 245x300 - A lesson on looking beyond the surface
Lemon Delicious Puddings
Screen Shot 2013 09 07 at 10.04.24 PM 245x300 - A lesson on looking beyond the surface
Serves 8
A spoon dessert invented for the lemon-lover, the tangy pudding-like surprise bottom gives a delicious contrast against the soft cake.
  1. 150 grams unsalted butter, melted
  2. 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  3. 1/2 cup lemon juice
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. 4 large eggs, separated
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease six 1 cup capacity oven-proof dishes.
  2. 2. Place butter, lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar, flour, milk and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. 1
  4. 3. In a separate small bowl, beat egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  5. 2
  6. 4. Fold a quarter of the egg white in to the lemon mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg white.
  7. 3
  8. 5. Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Place dishes in a large baking tray and pour boiling water carefully into the baking dish until halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.*
  9. 4
  10. 6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and just set.**
  11. 5
  1. * To avoid having to carry a heavy tray filled with hot water, place the baking tray onto the oven rack and then pour the boiling water in.
  2. ** If you are planning to flip over the cake-puddings, the easiest way to do this is while they are still hot. Run a knife around the cakelets and flip. You may need to scoop out the pudding from the bottom as it sticks, but you can definitely eat this straight from the ramekin if you're conscious about how it looks.
Adapted from Spicy Ice Cream blog
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/
If you were curious to know how the whole job story ended, I had initially debated with myself whether or not it was the right decision to leave. There was a future to consider after all. But the decision was made for me when my then-boss made some tactless remarks insulting my parents’ capabilities to provide for us their children.

To tell you the truth, this is the one single most vivid thing I remember from my experience in this workplace. Perhaps I tried too much to keep my head down and remain low-key, but I would always choose to focus on proving myself through my capabilities rather than relying on my background. Guess not even “adults” are spared from judgements made based on impressions, but I would hardly call this person as such.

bon appetit!


  1. Amanda
    9 September, 2012

    I’m so glad you are such a lover of lemon desserts! I’m always a fan of lemony treats. This looks super tasty. Can’t wait till you find the syrupy recipe you are on the hunt for.

    1. Clarisse Shaina
      9 September, 2012

      I can’t wait to share it when I do! The one I saw on Junior Masterchef was really so mouthwatering, I had never felt so strong a desire to reach into the television for a bite until that moment. I guess lemon desserts are just a weakness of mine! 😀

  2. frugalfeeding
    10 September, 2012

    I’m going through those problems you’ve been describing. However, I don’t consider myself particularly naive any longer… I’ve only just started looking for jobs and already I’ve discounted any idea of joining a horrible corporate company… I adore lemon desserts too, they always have such a fantastic, engaging and refreshing flavour.

    1. Clarisse Shaina
      10 September, 2012

      You’re lucky to have realised these things early on. It will certainly save you a lot of heartache (and time)! I don’t know if I had to go through that phase having had graduated a little younger than the rest of my peers, then again most of them have had a similar experience to some extent. In a way I’m also glad to have went through those things, otherwise I’d still have these rather misguided concepts.

      Good luck on the job hunt! 🙂

  3. I once worked in the corporate world and hated all about it. Every morning I woke up for work, I wanted to call sick… 🙂 Luckily those days are over!
    Your lemony desserts are so beautiful! I will mark this recipe to try some of these days! Keep doing what you love!

    1. Clarisse Shaina
      11 September, 2012

      I can relate so much to that feeling! Some people just aren’t cut out for that sort of job.

      And thank you! I certainly will keep doing what I love. 🙂


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