My father traditionally requests a lemon cake for his birthday but after a father’s day breakfast that included this butter loaded confection and lemon pound cake with sticks upon sticks of butter, my father claims he finally caught on to my mother’s wicked plan to do him in via atherosclerosis. Hence, no lemon cake. Enter Chef Roommate with a Save-The-Birthday-Cake that included just a single stick of butter and cough*5 cups of powdered sugar*cough. But who’s counting? This cake is super tasty, super dense, and super peanut-buttery. The cake is vaguely reminiscent in texture of previously featured and worshiped Guinness Chocolate cake, only, you know, without the beer. Strangely enough, I pilfered both recipes from the same place, the Smitten Kitchen, where fabulous photography, desserts, and side dishes abound.
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze, from Smitten Kitchen
Since this cake consists of three distinct parts (see above for absurdly long title), the instructions and ingredients will be separated accordingly. As such, be sure to read the whole recipe when compiling your shopping list to avoid sending hapless roommates, family members, or significant others to the store at the last second. Of course, I usually find my friends and family willing to do so, but then I have to share the cake.
Ingredients, for the cake
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed (when going Dutch I always go Droste)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Be sure to butter the parchment paper once in the pans.
Step 2: Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together to combine.
Step 3: Add the oil and sour cream to the dry ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Add in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs and beat until well blended. NOTE* If you’re not a sadist (read not stuck in a tiny kitchen in New York) and cooking in some place like Texas, land of the free, home of the Big Freaking Kitchens, I would suggest doing all this blending business in a stand or hand mixer. My forearm is achin’ just thinking about all this whiskin’.
Step 4: Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on racks 20 minutes. Invert onto racks and remove parchment. Allow to cool completely, and then chill in freezer for 30 minutes. This will firm the cake up a bit so it won’t fall apart on you.
Ingredients, for the Peanut Butter Frosting
10 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (bust out the Skippy kids, we don’t want any oil separation)
Step 1: While your cake is the freezer, measure out your five cups of powdered sugar and stare open mouthed at it. Then pretend you didn’t see exactly how much sugar that is, and carry on.
Step 2: Using an electric mixture, beat the cream cheese and butter until they are light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, cup by cup, mixing thoroughly and scraping down sides after additions. Continue beating mixture 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
Step 3: Add the peanut butter and beat until blended.
Step 4: Remove cake from freezer and level the layers. Place the first layer on your cake platter and spread 2/3 cup of frosting on the top. Add the second layer and repeat. Add the final layer, and frost the cake with a crumb layer. Put the cake in the fridge to chill 15 minutes.
Step 5: Remove cake from fridge and frost with remaining frosting. Return to fridge to chill (at least 30 minutes).
Ingredients, for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter (see note above regarding Skippy)
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup half and half
Step 1: In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the peanut butter and corn syrup. Stir this mixture together as the chocolate melts. One melted, stir until combined. This mixture will be pretty stiff (not unlike peanut butter). Don’t worry.
Step 2: Add the half and half, and stir vigorously. The little problem mentioned in Step 1 will be resolved and you’ll get something like this!
Step 3: Remove the cake from fridge, and pour glaze over the top, spreading with an offset spatula. Allow the glaze to run over the side. Return the cake to fridge to firm up. The cake keeps well in the fridge for about a week. Serve it up with birthday wishes and a glasses of milk!