Thursday, March 5, 2009

February Cake

Have you ever been in a restaurant, chatting in a leisurely way with your dinner companions, occasionally forking up a bite of your dinner, and the helpful waiter whisks your plate away without even asking if you're done with your meal? I feel that way about February. What happened? Where did it go? I wasn't done with it!

I had a long list of things to make and bake in February and I don't think I got to half of them. I'll blame it on the silly, short nature of February. The poor truncated month is missing three days, so I guess I should have lowered expectations for February.

Two of the things I managed to get done in February were birthday cakes. I'll tell you about one today and one next post. The first one was for my son-in-law. My daughter met him when they were in high school and she had a very good feeling about this boy when she learned that he, too, felt the best way to eat Oreos was dipped in peanut butter. Yes, he's a peanut butter and chocolate man, through and through.

In our house the birthday tradition is the birthday boy or girl gets to pick their own cake and I'll make it. Well, now the son-in-law is included. Bonus marriage perk! Of course we went with peanut butter and chocolate. A yellow cake with peanut butter frosting between the layers and on top, chocolate frosting around the sides, and Reese's peanut butter cups crumbled on top. A very good cake to share, as it serves 12.

(My decorating skills are meager at best, but I had fun doing that piped border!)



PB & C Birthday Cake

Yellow Cake
- adapted from The Perfect Cake

3 cups (360 g) sifted all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks; 230 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
(6-.75 oz. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)

1- Grease two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds and grease the paper. Flour the pans and tap off the excess. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven.

2- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.

4- With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.

5-Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Smooth the batter and using a small, off-set spatula, spread the batter slightly from the center toward the edges of the pan so it will rise evenly. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or just until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake tops are lightly springy to the touch.

6- Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Top with a wire rack and invert. Peel off the parchment paper. Cool the layers completely before frosting.


Peanut Butter Frosting

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
7-8 Tbsp milk

1-Cream together the peanut butter and butter until lightened.

2- Blend in the vanilla and salt.

3- Stir in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. It will form clumps. Don't worry.

4- Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the proper consistency is reached.


Chocolate Frosting
- adapted from The Perfect Cake

(if you make the whole recipe, you'll have leftovers to spread on graham crackers. You can halve the recipe, but it might make the outer frosting a bit skimpy. I would choose to go with leftovers. Which is why I currently have 3 containers of leftover frostings in my refrigerator.)

1/2 cup (1 stick; 110 g) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-4-1/2 cups (16 oz; 454 g) sifted confectioners' sugar
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
4-6 Tbsp heavy cream

With an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft, then beat in the salt and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat till smooth. Beat in the chocolate. Alternately add cream and remaining sugar, blending smooth between additions. Scrape down sides of bowl. Use only as much cream as necessary to reach spreading consistency.

To assemble:

1- Slice the cooled cake layers in half horizontally.

2- Place the first layer half on your serving plate. (To keep the plate clean, you can place strips of parchment paper beneath the edges of the cake. Pull these out after the cake is frosted.) Spread about 1/4 of the peanut butter frosting on the layer with an off-set spatula.

3- Place the second layer half on top. Repeat with the frosting. Repeat for the remaining layers.

4- Carefully spread the chocolate frosting around the side of the cake. Pipe frosting around the top edge.

5- Coarsely chop up the peanut butter cups and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.

26 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

I definitely HAVE had that happen to me at restaurants - damn waiters in a hurry.

I don't get a chance to bake as often as I used to/would like anymore, due to my overwhelming schoolwork :-(

Kudos to you for finding time to bake up that PB & C cake for the celebration - it looks MAAAAARVELOUS :-)

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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Would it hurt your feelings if I just ate the icing embarrasss myself at a party!!
I think it's beautiful Lynn.

Melinda said...

Leap year, 2012, will provide a better February for list making.
I believe you have copied my piping technique (drunken squiggles) without my permission.
The cake looks and sounds wonderful.
I'd snarl if anyone tried to take this away before I had finished every crumb.

Katrina said...

Goodness that looks awesome and YUMMY! So do the pecan buns!

Jackie said...

OMG!!! You really outdid yourself! This is the best recipe I think you have ever posted!!!

Elyse said...

What a lucky son-in-law!! This cake looks amazing, and you did a great job decorating!! I'm with your daughter and son-in-law: I absolutely ADORE oreos dipped in peanut butter. There is something magical about the combination. Which is how I know I will love this pb and chocolate cake. First off, yellow cake is a great base for any wonderful flavor combo, and I just love the idea of the pb and chocolate frostings. YUM!

Aimée said...

What a lucky guy, Lynn. That chocolate frosting looks like a good recipe to have around. I wish I could be generous enough to let my family members pick their cake, but usually they are just happy to get a cake!

Claire said...

That cake looks delicious! I love peanut butter...and chocolate with it is great. So yummy!

Lien said...

Wow this looks truly wonderful. To have such a mother in law!!!!

Rose&Thorn said...

I so wish I had a slice of this right now:) Chocolate and Peanut Butter cake, what a wonderful combination.

Peabody said...

Oh you know I will so be making this for my husband the chocolate/peanut butter-acholic! Even I am longing for it soooo badly right now.

Mama JJ said...

March looms ahead---a loooong month. You'll have plenty of time to catch up. And I expect you to!

Natashya said...

I was happy to be done with Feb, I think it was our coldest in recent history.
I love this cake! My son would love to have it for his birthday. I will send him over ;-)

natalia said...

Complimenti ! Beautiful cake !

Debbie said...

An absolutely gorgeous cake. I would hate to slice it!!

Maria said...

I know, Feb. went way too fast! The cake is beautiful. I love all of the layers!

Diane said...

You sell yourself short on the decorating. It was a beautiful cake, worthy of the best bakery display shelves!!

Sara said...

This is a gorgeous cake! Anything that involves peanut butter cups is a must-make recipe for me.

Cathy said...

This cake looks gorgeous. And peanut butter and chocolate? My husband would roll around in this cake.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

That is one serious cake! It looks beautiful and so decadent. My daughter would love this for her birthday. She is "nuts" about peanut butter!

eatme_delicious said...

You did a great job of decorating! Looks delicious.

Elle said...

That's a beautiful cake, especially the decorative icing.
If he liked that cake, he might enjoy my take on the Daring Baker's chocolate praline cake since I made it with See's peanut brittle and the flavors were distinctly chocolate and peanuts.
http://feedingmyenthusiasms.blogspot.com/2008/07/sea-worthy-darng-bakers-challenge-in.html is the URL. Maybe for next year's birhtday :)

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Brooke said...

Just had to stop by and say thanks for sharing your recipe for PB&C birthday cake. I made it for my husband who loves ANYTHING PB&C. I posted pics on my blog. It didn't turn out as pretty as yours, but it tasted yummy!

Thanks Again!

Nicole said...

I made this cake for my best friend's birthday today and it was a HIT! I've never thought to do a peanut butter cup cake and just wanted to thank you for the idea. This is one of the yummiest cakes I've had!