There aren’t many times when I wouldn’t rather eat a slice of cake than a bar of chocolate. Although obviously making a cake takes considerably more effort than buying a bar of chocolate, so I really only tend to bake cakes for occasions now. I would rather have a slice of cake than a cupcake any day, with cupcakes (especially the kind that are everywhere these days) there is just too much frosting for the amount of cake, and I find them way too sickly. I do LOVE cupcakes made with water icing though, though that is a story for another day!
Yesterday I was in one of those moods where I couldn’t be bothered to do ANYTHING, but then I had a nap and suddenly I sprang into life and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours in the kitchen, cooking dinner and this cake. I looked through all of my failsafe recipe books for chocolate cake recipes (i.e. all Nigella books) but her chocolate cakes all use sour cream which I didn’t have enough of in the house. So I looked through the Divine Heavenly Chocolate Recipes book I was given as a gift one year, and came across this chocolate peanut butter cake. I was sold pretty much immediately, especially when I realised I had all the ingredients. It was dead easy to mix everything up in the processor, although it wouldn’t exactly be a stretch by hand, and the cake was dense and springy and the icing SO rich and fudgy.
The only things I did differently is that I used 4 medium eggs instead of 3 large, and I only had crunchy peanut butter, so after debating whether I should just use the crunchy I figured it would spoil it if the icing weren’t silky smooth, so I just pushed it through a sieve. I also used all dark chocolate for the icing cause it’s all I had – it did make the icing much darker (i.e. you wouldn’t know it was peanutty until you ate it) and I had to put quite a bit of icing sugar in to make it sweet enough, but it made it really rich and delicious.
This would make a really good birthday cake, and it’s so quick and easy, especially since the icing requires almost no effort at all!
Sticky peanut butter cake
Makes one ~20cm cake
175g soft unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
25g light muscovado sugar
3 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
30g good cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
45g milk chocolate
45g dark chocolate
125g smooth peanut butter
25g soft butter
Icing sugar/cocoa powder as needed
You also need two cake tins around 20cm in diameter, greased and the bottoms lined with parchment
Preheat the oven to 180C. Make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature (the butter needs to be REALLY soft if you’re doing it by hand, and if you keep your eggs in the fridge then take them out to warm up).
In a processor/freestanding mixer (or by hand), beat the butter until soft and creamy. Beat in the sugars until really fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after you’ve added each one. By now the mixture should look really smooth and light. Beat in the vanilla.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder and add to the mixture, along with the milk, and mix gently until everything is combined (in the processor I just added the flour in two stages and poured the milk down the funnel). The mixture should be a smooth, pale, dropping consistency.
Spread the mixture into the two tins, making a little depression in the centre so that when it rises in the oven it stays flat. Put the tins in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is springy to the touch and it’s coming away slightly from the sides of the tin. If in doubt poke a skewer or a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the centre; if it comes out clean it’s done.
Run a knife around the edges of the tins and turn out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool completely. Don’t be tempted to ice the cake before it’s cool otherwise the icing will melt and run off!
While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan on a very low heat (don’t let it burn otherwise it will seize up and be useless). Once it’s melted, leave it to cool a bit for a couple of minutes, then stir in the butter and the peanut butter which will melt into the warm chocolate. Taste the icing and add icing sugar or cocoa powder until it’s as sweet as you like. I put the saucepan in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the icing. It needs to be solid enough to not run off the cake, but you need to be able to spread it easily across the cake.
Once the cake is cool, sandwich it with the icing and spread another layer on top. Enjoy!