Some say that peanut butter and jelly are the perfect match for each other, but I say peanut butter and chocolate are even better; it’s like the best blend of salty and sweet ever. If you’re a chocolate peanut butter fan, this is the cake of your dreams!
Guys! My Internet / IRL friend Michelle wrote a cookbook that recently came out!
Michelle and I met when Vibe Israel brought us out to Israel on a pastry tour. We talked at length about her book/blog journey, how it began, what she was working on, etc. She became an invaluable resource for me on the behind-the-scenes of what writing a cookbook is really like (and I've had a lot of questions since I’m working on one myself!). Needless to say, Michelle has become a dear friend and I was so thrilled when her book finally arrived on my doorstep!
Her cookbook, Weeknight Baking, offers recipes that can be made quickly and easily. Some of the recipes (like this peanut butter brown sugar layer cake) can be easily broken down into shorter steps that you can do over the course of a few days, while others are designed to be done super quickly. I absolutely love this concept because the truth is most of us, myself included, don’t have the ability (or patience) to dedicate four or five hours at a time to bake & decorate a layer cake straight thru ’til the end. Being able to break the recipe up makes it way more approachable.
I made this cake in two days. On day 1, I baked and cooled the peanut butter cake layers, then wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and placed them in the freezer overnight. On day 2, I made the chocolate fudge buttercream, assembled the layers, applied the crumb coat, and then frosted it completely!
This cake is suuuuper moist and has such an intense peanut butter flavor, and I mean that in the best way possible. You can use any brand of peanut butter in this recipe, just make sure it's room temperature, otherwise, it won't combine with the rest of the batter properly! (FYI: the natural, unsweetened kind that has the oil on top and needs to be stirred is the best kind for this recipe.)
The instructions are for making this as a layer cake, though she also outlines how to make this as a sheet cake or cupcakes in her book!
Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream
For the Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Cake:
- 280 g cake flour
- 440 g dark brown sugar
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp coarse sea salt
- 255 g unsweetened creamy natural peanut butter
- 240 g buttermilk
- 190 g water
- 110 g vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
- 170 g dark chocolate (70%+ cacao), chopped
- 480 g powdered sugar
- 340 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- 60 g milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. (Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.)
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the peanut butter, buttermilk, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and caramel in color. Gradually add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cakes need a little longer as determined by wet crumbs on the toothpick, bake for longer. However, careful not to overbake as the cakes may dry out. Remove cakes from the oven and cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water to create a double boiler. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside on a wire rack to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until completely combined. Add in the melted chocolate and beat on high speed for another 1-2 minutes until fluffy and completely combined. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more milk if frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Frosting should be soft and creamy, but not runny.
- Assemble and frost: Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I used an offset icing spatula and bench scraper for the frosting; a chocolate ganache for the drip; and a Wilton piping tip #2D for decoration around the top.
- Refrigerate cake for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting.
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