Every marriage goes through ups and downs and ins and outs. There is the ebb and flow of emotions in marriage as well as the rise and fall of love. To think that a marriage, a relationship between two people, is steady and static is definitely not the reality of a relationship between any two people, let alone husband and wife.
There are stresses of job, travel, children, finances, future, and individual struggles that weigh on my marriage with my husband. I definitely see these as normal every day stresses and it is often the very normal every day occurrences that push Husband and me around. There are those moments, even when we are in the same space, same room, same sofa even, that the distance between us exceeds our physical proximity. There are those times when our mental and emotional distance far exceeds our arms' length distance. These moments are the hard ones, the discouraging ones, the ones that make me cry.
However, I've learned when these moments happen, and they will happen, I need to fight against the urge to keep that distance, and I have to pull myself, however difficult it is, closer to the space where Husband is. It is not easy and rarely do I do it alone; I call upon God, I call upon my friends who call upon God, and I ask for layers of protection and comfort against the elements that are driving us apart and command the distance between us to shorten, narrow, and disappear.
There are times when Husband is so far away from me physically, yet so close to me. Even when not in the same room with me, I know where he is. There are times he knows what I'm thinking, even when we're not even in the same country. I love that mental and emotional proximity and and it is the very thing I try and remember to reach for, even on the hardest days. It is through God's abundant grace that I am able to do it.
When we overcome that big space between us, I feel most close to him and in tune with him. And I am reminded of all the wonderful reasons why I love him, married him and stay with him. I appreciate the rich texture of our lives together and our relationship is very much like this cake. It's a mix of different things that come together and work together because they've been mixed together, baked together and appreciated together. Don't let the mix of spices and flavors scare you off - this is a wonderfully rich yet subtle cake. The flavors are delicious together while being reminiscent of something far more exotic than simply just here.
Cardamom Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Chai Soaking Syrup
Makes 10-inch bundt cake, serving 12 to 14
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons ground cardamom powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed (empty vanilla bean used for the syrup)
1 cup sour cream
⅓ cup water
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 chai tea bags (I like Decaf Tazo, but choose what you like)
Leftover vanilla bean pods (for extra flavor)
Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour inside of 10 inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, ground cardamom, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using either a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugars and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 30 to 40 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla bean. At low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream. (Add a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream, a bit of flour, a bit of sour cream, a bit of flour.)
Scoop batter into pan and spread with spatula. Smooth with spatula.
Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto another rack. Place the cake, on the rack, over a baking sheet.
While cake is baking, make syrup. Combine water, sugar, teabags and empty vanilla pod in a small non reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using a pastry brush, dab syrup generously all over surface of the warm cake, allowing it to soak into the cake before reapplying. Let the cake cool completely.