Monday, November 5, 2012

Peanut Butter Birthday Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

Last week it was my precious nephew's 4th birthday! For his construction-themed birthday party, I made him a construction cake. I am most definitely not a professional cake decorator, but I think I did a pretty good job making it look like a job site, with small construction trucks, a foreman, chocolate rocks and dirt, and even some cone candles. I definitely had fun with it, and everyone at the party loved it, especially my nephew!

For the cake itself I decided to make a super moist, intensely flavored peanut butter cake (which would make any PB-lover swoon), and finish it off with a not-too-sweet, slightly tangy chocolate-sour cream frosting. The combination was superb. I would definitely marry the two together in the future, but even separately the cake and frosting truly shine on their own. Best of all, both components are easy to prepare.

I doubled the cake recipe and made two 13-by-9-inch cakes which I layered with the chocolate-sour cream frosting (I used the scraps from trimming the bulge on the cake to make the "hill" portion). The frosting was plenty to fill and decorate my cakes. You could also make one rectangular cake and split it into two tiers, or make two round cakes and split them into additional tiers as well and still have enough frosting to go around. If you plan to only frost your cake and not fill it with the frosting, you should be able to get by if you halve the frosting recipe.

Peanut Butter Cake
Makes two 9-inch cakes or one 13-by-9-inch cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I like Trader Joe's unsalted variety)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease either two 9-inch round cake pans or one 13-by-9-inch rectangular pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk, mixing on low in between additions just until mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester (toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 or 15 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Make sure the cake is completely cool before decorating.

Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting
Makes about 5 to 6 cups
(From Bon Appetit)

14 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Stir chocolate and corn syrup in a large metal bowl set over a large saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth; remove from heat. Stir sour cream, salt, and vanilla in a medium metal bowl; set over same saucepan of simmering water. Stir until mixture is warm but not hot, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream mixture to chocolate mixture; stir until smooth and glossy. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Slowly beat in chocolate mixture. Continue beating until no lumps remain, about 2 minutes. Frosting should be smooth and shiny. Cover and chill until slightly firmed up, about 30 minutes. Use frosting to decorate cake as desired.


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