My birthday is this coming Friday, y’all. Feel free to send gifts. Or chocolate. Heck, I’ll take an e-card. Or nothing. It’s not that big a deal.
Every year, I bake my own birthday fantasy treat. When you’re the resident cake baker, nobody bakes them for you. It falls to me to make the festive sugar. But that’s okay, because I get to let my imagination run wild.
This cake is like a giant Reese’s peanut butter cup. A peanut butter core is sandwiched between my favorite chocolate cake (it’s gluten-free but superior to any chocolate cake I’ve ever baked, and that’s a LOT of cakes) and then frosted with peanut butter frosting. And of course, the whole cake is topped off with more Reese’s peanut butter cups. It’s the best candy in the world, my friends!
Today I got my welcome back letter in the mail from the high school where I work. Don’t get me wrong: I love teaching and it’s exciting to go back every year. But could everyone just not bother me until I have to go back? I don’t want to see ads for back to school items, and I definitely don’t want a mailing from my work full of meeting agendas. Thinking about meetings when I’m at the beach soaking up the rays is just so not cool.
Before you start thinking that I’m a spoiled you-know-what who gets two whole months off to while away, I have to explain the argument that I have with Kenny on a regular basis. From my point of view, a teacher’s summer vacation is pretty much a furlough. In other words, we’re not paid for those two months, and it’s not voluntary. Granted, I know very few teaching jobs that span an entire school year. Kenny argues that if teachers were to work those extra two months and be paid the same amount, our salaries would still be good. I think that we would have to make an extra two months’ worth of money, because then we’d be 12-month employees, not 10-month. And it’s not like teachers aren’t underpaid anyway.
So what this comes down to is that when you think you’re seeing a lot of teachers on vacation, several are working extra jobs or cutting back on expenses to compensate for the absent paychecks. It’s just something to consider. I know very few teachers who don’t have summer gigs to help everyone stay afloat.
Back when I was a rookie teacher with no money, I actually kept my expenses outside of basic needs to $40 a week. I still don’t know how I did that, but I remember budgeting out a movie, or a candy bar, or if I saved up a bit more, a cool vest. It was easier to do that than to teach summer school. But back then, I was young and energetic. Now, I got nothin’.
Except THIS CAKE. I had to put that in caps because, well, it’s a crazy awesome sugar bomb punch. I have a pretty high tolerance for desserts that other people consider rich, but this one packs a lot of intensity. Half a slice got me through a few hours.
You can bet that on my birthday I’ll be pulling this cake out of the freezer for partying galore. After all, I still have some summer vacation left, even if it’s dwindling fast. While the sun shines and the seagulls caw (is that what seagulls do?), let the celebrations begin!
2 cups sugar
1 and 3/4 cups oat flour (labeled gluten-free)
3/4 cup cocoa
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil (I used canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup boiling water
Peanut Butter Layer
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup shortening, softened to room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups peanut butter
6 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
8 snack-sized peanut butter cups, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line two 9-inch round pans with parchment rounds and coat with cooking spray.
- Combine the sugar, oat flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Stir in the milk, oil, vanilla and eggs, mixing until smooth. Fold in the boiling water carefully.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake rounds for five minutes. Carefully invert each round onto heavy-duty plastic wrap and seal the cakes. Cool completely. Place each round in the freezer overnight.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter until crumbly. Gradually add the heavy cream, beating after each addition until the peanut butter mixture forms a dough.
- Press the peanut butter dough into a parchment-lined and greased 9-inch round cake pan. Turn the round out onto a cookie sheet and cover. If you have trouble turning out the layer, lightly run a knife along the edge once to coax it out. Place the peanut butter layer in the freezer and leave it there overnight to become solid.
- When you're ready to frost and stack, make the frosting. Cream the shortening, butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix again. Beat in the milk so that the frosting is a spreadable consistency. Let the frosting run in the mixer for a few minutes to become light and airy.
- Spread a little frosting on the surface of your cake plate or cardboard base. Unwrap one of the chocolate layers carefully and place it on the plate. Spread a thin layer of the frosting on top of the cake.
- Carefully place the peanut butter layer on top of the chocolate layer, being sure to level either layer when necessary with a serrated knife to keep things even. Spread another thin layer of peanut butter frosting on top.
- Unwrap the other chocolate layer and center it over the middle layer.
- Frost the cake generously with the peanut butter frosting. The cake is very moist and may crumble if you're not gentle, so use caution. Do a crumb coat and chill the cake before doing a second coat on top.
- Smooth out the frosting. If desired, pipe swirls onto the cake with a star tip. Garnish with full-sized peanut butter cups.
- Chill the cake to set the frosting. Bring to room temperature before cutting into wedges.