First of all, as this is my first post of 2016, I’d like to wish everyone reading this post a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! Secondly, I’d like to apologise that it’s taken 25 days for me to send you this greeting… January has been cray cray busy so far.
Anyway, I am SO excited to share this latest recipe with you. I spotted this recipe nearly a year ago when the A to Z of Baking challenge was a mere twinkle in my greedy little eye. It is from the Good to Know website and dropped into my inbox in a newsletter that I still have no idea how I ended up on but hey, it’s worked out well.
I wanted to make this cake from the moment I spotted it but a peanut butter cake is a bit of a funny one, so I felt like I needed the right occasion to make it for. It’s kind of like what I imagine a Marmite cake would be like (wow, imagine that… it probably does exist *Googles Marmite cake*…) in that a peanut butter cake is not the kind of cake you could just rustle up and take willy nilly to a party or to the office bake sale. In a slightly less offensive way than Marmite, peanut butter is quite a ‘love it or hate it’ thing. So, if you flounced along to your local bake sale smugly displaying this little number, you could guarantee you’d get some looks of disgust from those who simply can’t fathom how peanut butter and cake could possibly go together (‘garlic bread? Garlic? and bread?’). And then when people were done shooting you daggers for daring to bring along a peanut butter cake to a public event, someone with a nut allergy would inevitably keel over next to the laboriously layered paper plates and napkins if you neglected to correctly display a sign saying ‘MAY CONTAIN NUTS’.
So, you see my dilemma – when exactly would be the right time to execute the P of my baking challenge? Well, thanks to the increasingly lengthy amount of time that is taking me to bat through this A to Z, it just so happened that the letter P fell around the time of my sister’s 50th birthday and she loves peanut butter! So that was it, I decided to make this cake for her party, since my new adventures into baking had already meant the responsibility of providing the cake had fallen to me. Also, I still haven’t mastered the art of sugarcraft – or even attempted it, let’s be fair – so I wasn’t about to start knocking together figurines out of royal icing that looked like they had been in a horrific car smash for the top of her cake, it would just be too embarrassing for everyone concerned.
Of course, I did worry that, for all apart from my sister, the arrival of a peanut butter layer cake at the birthday party would go down like a lead balloon, but I thought, well, birthday girl likes peanut butter so that’s the most important thing, it looks amazing and I can’t think of a third reason other than I reaaaaallly want to try this one out, so I made it. And on the evening of the party, I drank enough wine that I couldn’t feel any frosty glares from the peanut butter haters (I jest) and as the cake was cut and passed around, I drunkenly shouted out ‘It might contain nuts!’ to avoid any anaphylaxis incidents, so, you know, all bases covered really.
Anyway, I’ve jabbered on long enough about the dilemma of the peanut butter layer cake. Basically, it’s a brilliant recipe, go make it!
Looks so impressive, and is something a little different so if you’ve got a peanut butter lover in your life, then you have to make them this cake at least once.
The frosty glares from the peanut butter haters. I jest again. This cake did take me a long time to make on the day of my sister’s party but then again, I don’t think the surprise gas leak we discovered we had in our house that morning helped matters as I ended up having to play on the ice in the garden with the cat for an hour whilst we were evacuated when I should have been whisking butter, but it is a time-consuming cake to make, gas leak or no gas leak. The only other downside was trying to get the peanut buttercream around the outside of the cake to look as flawless as it did on the original recipe ended up to be an absolute NIGHTMARE. In the end, I gave up and covered the cake with the chocolate ganache as instructed and no one was any the wiser.
*Sadly I didn’t get a photo of the inside of the cake because, obviously, it had to go off to the party in one piece looking presentable.
For the sponge:
- 400g plain flour
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 150g light brown sugar
- 1½tsp baking powder
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g good quality cocoa powder
- ½tsp salt
- 300g melted butter
- 1tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 280ml water
- 150g sour cream
- 3 eggs
For the buttercream:
- 250g unsalted butter
- 250g smooth peanut butter
- 2tsp vanilla bean paste
- 400g icing sugar
For the ganache:
- 200ml double cream
- 130g dark chocolate
- 2 packets of Reese’s Peanut butter cups
- 1 standard box of Reese’s Pieces
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and line your cake tins with greaseproof paper. For the cake mix, whisk the eggs, vanilla and sour cream together. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and beat in the melted butter and water. Add the egg mix bit by bit beating until you have a nice smooth mixture. Don’t overbeat or the cake will be greasy. Divide the mixture between 3 8-inch cake tins (about 540g in each pan) and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, depending on your own oven. The cake will look ready when it has shrunk from the outside of the tins. Cool the cake in the tins for 10 minutes before cooling completely on wire racks.
- For the buttercream, beat the butter and peanut butter together until light in colour and fluffy. Sieve the icing sugar into the butter mix and push in with a spatula before beating. This will stop you getting an icing cloud and be a bit less messy. Beat for about 8 minutes until the buttercream is smooth and shiny.
- If you have one, use a turntable to ice the cake. Start with a non-slip mat, a large cake drum (just so you can pick it up and move it around), another piece of non-slip mat and then a cake card (I placed my cake on a 12-inch cake card). Add a layer of icing to the cake card. If you do not have these, you can ice the cake on a plate or board.
- Layer the cakes with a generous layer of the peanut buttercream. Give the outside of the cake one layer of buttercream and then pop in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Remove the cake form the fridge and cover the top of the cake with the buttercream.
- While the cake is chilling, cut a few of the peanut buttercups in half.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and smooth any lumps or bumps with a hot palette knife, if you want a perfect finish. Dip it in boiling water and then wipe on kitchen towel before smoothing over the icing.
- For the ganache, chop the chocolate quite finely and heat the cream on a low heat until it’s close to boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and gently fold until it’s smooth and shiny. Don’t whisk the chocolate or you will get air bubbles.
- Pour the cooled ganache over the cake gently teasing some drip around the edge of the cake. Add the Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Cups to the top of the cake before the ganache sets.