Tagine versus cake.

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2020


By Cyndi Dawes, Practice Director at Huddle. 

I’m team tagine. Savoury over sweet every day of the week. I’m also just better at making stews, salads and tagines(1) than cakes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a great cake. But I know the exactitude required to make one is not how I love to cook. I’m a “bit of this, bit of that” cook, and I cook by feel and taste. One of my favourite bakers (2) has just released a cook book of her genius creations. And Iooking at the recipes reminds me why I’ll never be a great baker. She measures the eggs! Yep. On a scale.

The other thing about baking is that you kinda just get one chance. Measure, mix, pop in the oven and wait. There’s no adjusting or testing once it’s in the oven. If it doesn’t work, you begin the whole thing again.

Our work as creators, change makers and designers generally requires the tagine approach. We vary our tagine to take account of the meats and vegetables we have, the people who will be eating it and the spices we like or have on hand. It’s not precise, it can take experimentation and you can test along the way. In fact it’s best to test along the way.

To do this, you need confidence in your own abilities and also a willingness to ask for other’s feedback: “how does this taste to you?”, “too spicy? too bland? too much pimento?”

If you are a designer or a problem solver, you are in the world of tagines; not cakes. Human-centred design is an emergent process, not an exacting one. We learn, think, create, test and then learn again. Adding a little bit of pepper, a dash of salt along the way.

1. What’s a tagine? It’s a vessel and a meal. https://www.thespruceeats.com/the-moroccan-tagine-2394748
2. Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull.


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