Sunday, February 5, 2012

Daddy's Birthday

Happy birthday, Daddy!

In the past year or two I've been discovering baking and cooking.  And since I became a Pinterest addict last summer, seeing all of those incredible ideas and recipes has inspired me to expand my repertoire.  However, since I've also been trying to lose weight, as has my entire household, I needed actual reasons to make some of the more decadent and delicious desserts.

Well yesterday was my dad's birthday.  I asked him last week what kind of cake he wanted for the occasion -- fully expecting him to reply with his favorite "Sunshine Cake."As cakes go, Sunshine Cake isn't bad -- really, is there such a thing as a bad cake? -- but it's fairly basic:  some sort of yellow butter or buttermilk cake and chocolate frosting.  However, Daddy is full of surprises and wanted to ponder it for a while.  No problem!

Now, my dad loves peanut butter.  Not really to the obsessive, everything-must-be-peanut-butter-flavored level, but he does love the stuff.  I had recently stumbled across a random pin on Pinterest for a peanut butter cake.  I'd never though of such a thing so the idea stuck with me although it didn't particularly interest me, aside from the immediate thought, "I'll bet Daddy would love that!"

So, being the patient woman that I am, I asked him every day for the next few days if he'd decided on a cake yet.  After a couple days he was still pondering and I made the suggestion.  He thought about it for about a second before deciding that was exactly what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday.  I asked him what kind of frosting he wanted and he said peanut butter.  Of course!

So I spend the next couple days searching online for good recipes for peanut butter cake and frosting.  I finally decided on this one from but I couldn't just leave well enough alone; I had to tweak it as I went.  Partly because, living in Colorado, I have to adjust nearly every recipe for high altitude.  And partly because,'s fun!  So here's my recipe as it developed:

Cream 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup softened butter, and 3/4 cup sugar in a mixer.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and mix well.  Sift or whisk 2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder together.  Add to creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 1 cup milk in 2 parts.

Here, I discovered that this recipe was not intended for multi-layer cakes.  But I persevered and divided the batter between two 9" round pans I had coated with Wilton's Cake Release.  If you follow this recipe, be sure to level the cakes as well as you can before baking them.  This batter doesn't level itself out much, and I could still see some of the spreading pattern from my spatula.  They will dome a bit, though.  In an attempt to prevent doming, since I didn't have much cake to begin with I lowered the temperature and extended the time.  They baked at 300 (convection) for 30 minutes at first, then I added more time.  I think I ended up baking them for around 40-50 minutes, but since they were thin layers that helped speed things up.  Still, in the end I think I may have slightly over-baked them because it came out a bit dry.  Not horrible, just not moist.  Oh well.

For the frosting, cream 1/3 cup peanut butter1/4 cup softened butter, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract in a mixer.  Sift together 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3 cups confectioners' sugar.  Add to creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 1/3 cup milk in 2 parts.  Mix until smooth.

This was when I discovered that I'd have to double the frosting recipe because I was doing the layers.  I did end up having a bit left over at the end, but I figure it's almost like Nutella so it'll get eaten up.

Completely frosted.  Yum...!
I used some peanut butter chips that were in the cupboard to pretty it up a bit. 

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