Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cake-Induced Insomnia

     Why am I up at 10:30 baking a cake?  Maybe it's because my darling husband is too delusional from his pain meds to be much company, and I needed a distraction. J came home today and told me that he was given an idea of when he may be deploying again.  Of course I can't share details or anything and nothing is ever definite, but just the thought of him leaving again has me wide awake.  When I should have been in bed over an hour ago, I find myself instead separating egg yolks from the whites.  I shouldn't be so anxious, since we've been through this whole charade many times over the past three years of his Navy career, but this time feels like it might be a bit harder than the last few.  The simple truth is that we've been spoiled.  J has been home since August, and that's the longest Monkey and I have been able to claim him since he joined the Navy.  It's been great having him here, but now I don't want to let him go, which makes having him here that much harder.  It's quite the conundrum.

     I guess if I could give anyone advice (including myself) on dealing with deployments, it'd be this:  Stay busy, and take it one day at a time.  I know, not the most original, but it's effective.  The hardest month of the deployment last time was the first month.  I didn't know many people here, and I was petrified of leaving the house.  So, I was bored out of my mind (even with a then two-year-old running around).  That led to too much time wondering about J, and what he was doing, and why he wasn't calling or emailing or writing.  That meant that when he did contact me, I was snippy because here I was waiting on him all day, and he couldn't even find time to write me an email that was at least half as long as the one I sent him!  (Those were not my finest moments, I'll admit.)  Luckily, I finally made a few friends, started venturing out, found a local library where I could volunteer, started going to church, and basically came up with my own little routine that kept me (and Monkey) busy.  I know that I'll find my groove again after J leaves, but that's not what worries me.  What worries me is that time right before and right after he leaves.  Right before I'm in danger of becoming distant, cold and resentful because I want to spend time with him, but I don't want to get too close because I feel I should prepare myself for the time he's gone.  Then when he leaves I get angry with myself for not making the most of every second.  It's a dangerous cycle, but one that I've found isn't too uncommon among my fellow military wives.
    I guess what I need to remember (and what many wives need to remember) is that we're not alone.  I've made many great friends that will be going through the same thing, with their husbands in the same place, leaving at the same time, so I have a support group here.  Plus I have big plans to keep me busy when the time comes, and I'm looking forward to those.  I'm just hoping that the time will pass slowly from now until he leaves, and then it can fly right by until he's home again.  Even though we all know that's not how that works.  Ah, well, and girl can dream, right?

    Well since I've forced you to sit through a bit of rambling, I guess I should share that cake recipe with you.  I've mentioned before that I subscribed to Paula Deen's magazine, but to be honest, the last couple of issues have been a bit of a let down.  I didn't see anything worth making from her February issue, and there was very little in this April issue that I wanted to try.  That is, except for this cake:

     I've been wanting to give it a try since I got my magazine in the mail two weeks ago, and let's just say it was worth the wait.

     Now, there are two versions of this cake, and I plan on sharing both recipes.  I made the lighter version, and I'm glad because I may just eat the whole thing myself.  As for the original recipe, I'll probably save that for a night when we have company over.

  Here's the "A-Bit-Lighter Cherries and Berries Cake" recipe (by Paula Deen):

You'll probably want to do the filling first, as it will need to chill for 4 hours or more before use.
(Makes about 1 cup.)
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBS cold water
3 TBS cornstarch

In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, 1/2 cup water, and sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until strawberries soften.  In a small bowl, whisk together 3 TBS cold water and cornstarch until smooth.  Add to strawberry mixture and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until mixture is very thick.  Remove from heat, and let stand for 30 minutes.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before using.

For the cake, you'll need:

14 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups confectioners' suger, divided
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cups cake flour (I used all purpose)
1 1/2 (2.6-oz) packages whipped dairy topping+1 1/2 cups cold milk
(I cheated and used Cool Whip)
Strawberry Filling (recipe above)
Fresh berries to garnish

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 3 (9") cake pans with parchment paper circles.  In a large bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt.  Beat at high speed with a mixer until foamy.  With mixer running, gradually add 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 1 TBS at a time; beat until stiff peaks form.  Add almond extract.  Into a small bowl, sift together cake flour and remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar.  Gently fold into into egg with mixture.  Spoon batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Invert cake pans onto a cooling rack, and cool cakes in pans for 30 minutes.  Gently run a knife around edges to release sides.  Remove cakes from pans.  In a large bowl, combine whipped dairy topping (3 envelops) and cold milk, and beat at medium-high sped for 5-6 minutes or until stiff peaks form. (Or skip that last step and use Cool Whip ;-) Spread Strawberry Filling over 2 cake layers.  Spread 1 cup whipped dairy topping over Strawberry Filling on bottom cake layer.  Top with second cake layer, Strawberry Filling side up.  Spread 1 cup whipped dairy topping over filling.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped dairy topping.  Garnish with fresh berries and cherries, if desired.  Store cake, covered, in refrigerator.

Now for the non-healthy version!

Cherries and Berries Cake

This one also has a filling that should be made ahead of time.

Raspberry Filling
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)
2 (6 oz) packages frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
6 TBS water, divided
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 TBS cornstarch

In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, 3 TBS water, and lemon juice.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 7-8 minutes or until raspberries break down.  In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 TBS water and cornstarch, stirring until smooth.  Add to raspberry mixture, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until mixture is very thick.  Cool for 30 minutes. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to two days.

For the cake you'll need:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
5 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Raspberry Filling (recipe above)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 3 (9") round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.  IN a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition.  Spoon batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.  Spread Raspberry Filling evenly between layers.  Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over top and sides of cake.  Garnish with fresh berries and cherries, if desired.  Store cake, covered, in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes about 5 cups)

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 TBS vanilla extract
6 cups confectioners's sugar

In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until smooth.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until combined.

I can't wait to try that second recipe, especially after how much I enjoyed the "lighter" version.  I think this recipe alone made up to the last couple of disappointing magazine issues.  Well I'm out for the night.  I think the cake did that job of distracting me :-)

Disclaimer:  After reading this, J said I made him sound like a druggie and asked that I clarify.  He doesn't partake in recreational drug use; he was merely high on pain meds.

Disclaimer, part II:  J said that the last disclaimer didn't clear anything up.  I swear that man is never happy.  Fine!  J was prescribed muscle relaxers after pulling a muscle in his back.  And he was a total fruit loop for the 12 hours after he took the meds.  I think I may need to borrow a couple of those things.   O.o


  1. We will be visiting later this month. I wouldn't mind sampling the lighter version if you happened to want to make it again! LOL

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  3. I read this earlier, but didn't comment. But just now I thought of you while listening to this song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUsyHVjacJ0

    Love you!

  4. Lol, Dani I will be more than happy to oblige. Alysha, thank you!