Last Saturday was my husband’s birthday, and he celebrated how any newly-29-year-old man would: eating cake for breakfast, reading the latest issue of Bloomberg Business Week, and watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on ABC Family. A note about that movie — he has some very strong feelings about Blake Lively’s character trajectory. You should ask him about it if you ever run into him.
Anyway, as if financial journalism and movies aimed at 13-year-old girls weren’t enough, we also went out for a fun dinner with some friends, followed by cake and cocktails at our apartment. I decided to use his birthday as the perfect excuse to cross “layer cake” off my kitchen bucket list, and this cake did not disappoint.
That’s a lie. It did disappoint. The first go-round, that is. Um, so layer cakes are kindof hard! Or maybe not hard, but easy to mess up. My first batch of cake layers completely collapsed on me, and I suspect it’s because I filled my cake pans too full and ended up underbaking them. So for round two, I made three layers instead of two, and everything turned out pretty dang good.
That’s a lie. Everything turned out insanely delicious.
Ingredients for the cake:
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 tablespoons (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 pound bag of light brown sugar (2 and 1/4 cups)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (buttermilk hack: add 1 tbsp white vinegar to 1-cup measuring cup, fill rest of way with milk and let sit 10 minutes)
Ingredients for the filling:
2 and 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Ingredients for the frosting:
20 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (2 and 1/2 sticks)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
3 cups miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped
1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat three 9-inch cake pans with butter, then dust with flour.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a second large bowl (or the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream butter and peanut butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add brown sugar, followed by eggs (one at a time), mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.
4. Reduce mixer speed to low, and alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, mixing until just incorporated.
5. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes (mine took about 28). Let cakes cool completely before frosting (freezing them is even better).
6. To make the filling: In medium saucepan over medium heat, bring whipping cream and brown sugar to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove saucepan from heat and add chocolate chips. Let stand one minute.
7. Whisk in peanut butter until smooth. Chill filling until ready to assemble cake.
8. To make the frosting: In large bowl (or bowl of your stand mixer), combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Mix ingredients together until smooth.
9. Once ingredients are mixed, slowly add corn syrup and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Add melted chocolate to mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, until the mixture is creamy and thoroughly combined.
10. To assemble cake: I recommend freezing your layers before assembling. Place one layer upside-down on cake stand (a dab of frosting on the top of the stand will help keep cake in place). Spread half of filling mixture over top of first layer top with second layer and repeat with remaining filling. Top second layer with third layer and carefully frost cake with frosting. Top with chopped peanut butter cups (and birthday candles!).
This cake. I want more of it.