Another cake. Another week. I don't know what it is that compels me to want to turn on the oven when it's a blistering ninety degree day. Somehow I felt having a cake was a necessity. Of course, this being St. Louis, we have since had a cool down so dramatic that last night we had a fire in the fireplace. This cake was comfort food for the enormous stress my husband and I have endured the past few weeks.
First, husband's eyes and the need for the "procedures" to make seeing better (the first one completed last Thursday--all went swimmingly). But cripes all mighty, we walked into the waiting room of this eye surgery center and it was as if we'd left Missouri and were in a retirement community in Florida! Blue rinses everywhere! I thought I'd be ushered over to the "children's corner" to play with Tonka toys I was so much younger than everyone else. I leaned over into Dr. Thyme's ear and said, "Uh, wow. Even YOU seem young in this crowd!" He said back to me, "Yeah, well this is one minority group we ALL get to be a part of eventually, so get used to it." Touche.
My husband is "older" than me by nearly a decade and a half. We try not to think about that so much like computing how old he was when I was ten, or how old he was when I went to my prom. But then reality strikes in the form of "age-related" issues and we both are forced into a whole life moving along at a very steady clip. Instead of the years feeling far apart, we feel much closer as I, too, begin to feel the pull of aging, only from a female perspective. (Oh the joys of menopausal rages.)
Anyway. Dr. Thyme's eye thingy was scheduled for 1:30! One thirty? What the %$#&!? He was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight--and his procedure wasn't until after one! I was not happy about this. I told him that the "schedulers" saw him as pushover since he's less likely than I am to say: I Don't Think So. . . we'll take the ten a.m. slot, thank you very much! Which I have now said I will be the one the ladies on the phone have to deal with, and we'll see them try to schedule him half way into the next day! We took our seat in this waiting room, him light headed and pale from the lack of caffeine or food, me with my knitting to keep me from having to look at other people and chit chat--I am not a chit-chatter. Well I can be, but here lately, not so much. I find it difficult and challenging "waiting" for anything. By the way, from the crowd in the waiting room, this business of "eyes" seems to me to be a cash cow. Big time.
Soon after arriving, husband was ushered into the back. He returned with a HUGE dot on his forehead above the eye to be "worked" on. I laughed inappropriately. Loudly. I said, "That concerns me. You'd think they MIGHT not need to put a bullseye on your head in permanent marker for something like this, that as professionals, they MIGHT take the time to read the friggin' chart to see which eye it is they're needing to poke around on! What are they operating back there. . . an eye assembly line?" Grrr. I was getting more frosted by the minute. Knit. Knit. Knit. Faster than I think I've ever knitted before. Stupid eye place. Stupid people. My poor husband. God help them if something goes wrong.
I am happy to report, my pirate husband's vision in this first eye seems to be much better as I have endured a weekend of, "Wow, I never noticed this comforter had red in it." (It doesn't, it's deep burgandy. Apparently the color blindness doesn't get better.) Or this, "Look, I can read lettering on the side of the cereal box. . . I can read the name of the movies on On Demand!. . . I can see the outline of the trees in the back yard!" In short, he can see. . . much better! He's in my camp now--the far-sighted camp. Which required a trip to Target to get him a new pair of sunglasses and new readers. (That was fun! I don't take husband to Target with me very often because my own Kid in A Candy Store issues are bad enough when I shop there--but with BOTH of us--let's just say, we walked out of the store with waaaay more than just a pair of readers and sunglasses!)
Now, in three more weeks, eye number two. Then we wait for results and determine if third and fourth procedures will be needed. Which is when worry will once again descend. When we went back in at the crack of dawn the next day to do a look-see post surgery, he came out from the office with a house plant in his hand. I said, "What's up with that?" Smiling, he said, "The office gave this to me--isn't that nice?" I said, "Nice would be them telling you: two eyes for the price of one, 'kay?!" All of this reminded me of Carrie and Doug in the King of Queens episode where Doug gets Carrie a two-fer lasik eye surgery deal and she wakes up without any ability to see--thinking he's blinded her for life Doug realizes he just sent his wife to the Island of Dr. Moreau eye surgeon. So my husband got a plant? Meantime, I get to enjoy constant, "I can see this. . . I can see that." Which, to be honest, is great relief to me. Neither one of us realized how much his vision had declined.
Now, for the lemon cake. I love lemon as much as chocolate. I used to have this lemon cake recipe that called for white chocolate chips, lemon pudding and a lemon box cake mix. It was a no-fail recipe and one for which I have not been able to re-create vegan . . . until this week. With anxiety and stress as my guide, I dug into my cookbooks, looking to find one lemon recipe I thought might most closely resemble my once crave-worthy lemon cake. I nailed it by gosh. This cake is on it's fourth night with us. I've stored it in my cake keeper on the top of the kitchen counter and for the past four nights, this has been our dessert. We LOVE this cake! I kicked up the lemon flavor with real lemons and lots of lemon zest.
Sometimes using the old stand-by handheld mixer is called for. I mean, the Amish don't have KitchenAid stand mixers and half of them don't even have handhelds (well, they don't have electricity either) and they can turn out some mean cakes. So, sometimes, I just prefer my handheld is all.
One of the tricks to this cake is lining the pan with non-stick spray and then with a coating of sugar. This guarantees not only a quick release from the pan without peices of the cake sticking in the bottom and leaving you with a holey cake, but imparts a nice, almost carmel-ey, crunchy coating on the surface. Yum.
Lemon Bundt Cake with Fluffy Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
*Adapted from Great Cakes by Carole Walter
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sift the flour, then measure)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted vegetable margerine (1/2 cup, at room temperature)
zest of one lemon
1 1/3 cup baker's sugar (or us regular sugar placed in a food processor to make it "fine")
2 egg yolks (3 teaspoons of Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons of water)
2 eggs (3 teaspoons of Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons of water)
1 cup or 1 container of vegan plain yogurt
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the bundt pan--a ten cup bundt pan works well here. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside. Next, mix together your egg replacers--in two seperate, small bowls and set aside (because you will be adding them at different times to the batter). In another larger mixing bowl, add margerine and lemon zest and half the sugar. Blend until light and fluffy--about 1 minute. Next, add the remaining sugar, blend an additional 5 minutes. You really want to incorporate these two ingredients well--the sugar and margerine--it will make for a fluffier cake. Next add the egg yolks--beating for 1 minute. Then add the regular egg mixture--beating well for another minute. Next add the lemon juice and vanilla and almond extracts. Finally, add to this a third of the flour and half of the yogurt. Mix just until the flour gets incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, and the other half of the yogurt--mix, again, just until incorporated. Finally, add the last third of flour--and you can use a spoon at this point, mixing the flour in and being sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes--test the cake for doneness with a toothpick as it gets closer to the end of the baking time. If the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan--it's done. While the cake bakes, you can make the frosting. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack upside down. Allow to cool completely. Transfer the cake to a cake keeper and prepare the frosting if you have not already done so.
Fluffy Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
4 tablespoons unsalted vegetable margerine
2 tablespoons regular vegetable Crisco
2 cups powdered sugar (more or less--just have to watch the frosting as you mix it)
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Place the margerine and vegetable spread into the bowl and mix together until well blended. Add about a half cup of the powdered sugar. Mix well. Add the lemon juice and extracts and blend well. Now, add the powdered sugar at half cup increments until you get the desired "fluffy" and "light" frosting consistency you'd like. You may add more powdered sugar or less--just keep testing it to see if it's where you like it. Frost the cake!