Borrow and Adapt: Learning from Others

December 8th, 2019

The famous three-ingredient fruit cake! Have you heard of it? It maybe famous, but I only found out about it this week.

The basic ingredients are :

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3 cups liquid (e.g. iced coffee)
  • 6 cups or 1 kg mixed dried fruit

The base of the mixed dried fruit is loosely defined, as the expectation is that you use sultanas and raisins and then pimp it up with whatever else you fancy – fruit peel, apricots, cranberries, cherries and even some nuts.

The recommended liquid appears to be a huge variety of everything from dairy-based milkshakes and coffee to soya products and fruit juices of all and any types.

The critical access factors appear to be:

(1) using self-raising flour to ensure the cake will rise

(2) leaving the fruit to soak in the liquid in the fruit overnight for it to pump

(3) mixing 1 and 2 together

(4) baking it in the oven or steaming in an instant pot/pressure cooker

So the famous three-ingredient fruit cake is actually not a single recipe cake, it is something that can be flexible, dependent on the tastes or cooking preference of the chef or the consumer.

When you learn from others you do the same, borrow and adapt.  I recall my first proper job at Pfizer involved me shadowing and supporting a number of the clinical research staff for my training.  Within weeks I had been able to understand and determine which of their practices were the best to use in my own day.  I could pick the best of each and blend them together, much like a recipe, but being sure that I still included the factors that were critical to undertake the role successfully.

It is the same when you read a business book or even a novel, you subconsciously sift through the detail and select the insight and learning you plan to take forward and blend it into your existing knowledge and practice.

You should never feel that you have to invent your own ways of doing things in isolation, you can look at how others work, borrow and adapt what they do and create your own unique combination.  Happy cooking!

By the way, you bake the cake at 160 degrees celsius for an hour, I’ll be trying it out, borrowing the basic recipe formula, adapting it as I go. I’ll be adding a slug or two of Christmas spirit too… brandy or port?!

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