This months’ Baked, Occasionally post is brought to you in haste, sort of. You see, kind people of the blog, I am moving: the blog is staying right here it is, by I myself am moving houses. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this, but it’s been a little chaotic around these parts lately, and I didn’t want to say anything lest I jinx the process. We’ll talk about the move (and i’ll totally share photos of the old and new houses!) in a future post, when my world is not upside-down and packed in a various assortment of cardboard boxes.
For now, Natalie and I made you this cake. It was her pick this month, and fittingly, she chose the peanut butter / chocolate route for our project. I have many, many reasons to feel thankful for Natalie, but I’m most grateful for her this month because I feel like her choice made it easy on us: how could one possibly screw up a very simple, humble even, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting? It’s not even layered; no way can this go wrong.
I knew it would be perfect in terms of flavor, so I inadvertently decided to test just how foolproof this cake really was. Because here’s what: in the span of 3 months, we accidentally found a house, threw ours on the market to sell it, celebrated christmas through valentine’s day, and also I managed to churn out two huge recipe collections – one for the magazine, one for feasteats.com – and remake them both for photo shoots. Oh, and also? I packed a house, which seems to be 90% filled with vintage, breakable, delicate things. This cake marked the absolute last thing I did in my old kitchen, so let’s just say that it wasn’t carefully thought out.
Here’s how it went: I have a serious lack of photos, so I will allow Mad Men’s Joan Holloway (the talented Christina Hendricks) to convey my emotions. Because let’s be honest, she’s a perfect choice for this task.
I tried to read through the instructions. Evidently I didn’t actually do that, because I made the cake and threw it in the oven and completely missed that I should be making the frosting AS THE CAKE WAS BAKING.
When I realized I screwed it up and that a hot cake was necessary to ensure proper icing stick, what was my solution? Leave oven on. shove cake back in when almost ready to pour icing on. I’m a pro.
The frosting recipe – which I was already under the gun for in terms of time – called for me to sift the confectioners sugar…twice. to which I was like:
So I didn’t do that; alternatively, I anger-whisked the frosting with vigor until it was clear that those tiny lumps of sugar weren’t. going. anywhere.
But I wasn’t about to stop now, so I removed my baked-and-warmed cake from the oven and poured. And waited. And completely didn’t notice that there’s a whole line in the recipe about setting it up in the fridge. whoops. which is why I got that elusive little drip there in the photo, which food bloggers identify as “seductive photo op” but everyone else identifies as “failure.”
but not really ,because here’s what: that frosting was just fine, and it stayed on all the cake slices perfectly (so long as I wasn’t trying to stack them 3 high for a photo.)
Verdict a.k.a. did my serious lack of chill destroy my cake? No. In fact, this cake is glorious, and both Natalie and I agreed that it needed no adjusting whatsoever. the chocolate cake was luscious and beautifully textured (thanks, buttermilk and coffee!) while the peanut butter frosting would have been perfectly smooth had I paid attention. The frosting flavor was intense, but perfect in an inside-of-a-Reeses way. The ratio was surprisingly ideal as well: the peanut in the frosting is a real standout, and any more frosting and you’d lose the chocolate flavor. Plus, bonus points for this cake serving like 588 people, and being insanely easy to deal with and tote around: just throw that sheet pan in your car and go anywhere you want with it.
So what would I change? honestly, nothing: it came together wonderfully without me giving it much thought. I would actually follow the directions next time (make the frosting as the cake bakes, sift the confectioners’ sugar, refrigerate to set) for sure, but forgetting those things didn’t hurt the cake one bit. I feel like the cake could be a fabulous base for a chocolate ganache layer, either over the peanut butter layer or as just a pure chocolate-on-chocolate cake slice; I would definitely try that the next time, and I definitely plan for a next time with this cake: it’s really a lovely one to use as a foundation for any frosting you want.
Next month is my month to choose the recipe: bad move on Natalie’s part, because there’s a recipe I’ve been wanting to tackle since getting the book. A mega-recipe, if you will: entitled “Mega Easter Pie: A Meat and Cheese Utopia,” it’s guaranteed to be a doozy. As is my way. *angelic twinkle grin*
Natalie is saving us this month by doing the heavy lifting: she typed out the recipe so I don’t have to, and I love her for that. I’d highly suggest getting the Baked Occasions cookbook, because then you’d have all the recipes, but if you’d like to test-drive this one, head right over here to Natalie’s post about this very same cake (and her experience with it.) I’ve got to get back to packing for the next few days, then moving, then – finally, completely – I plan to get back to normal here and everywhere as we settle into the new place. Expect more house photos, because I’ll be doing lots of painting after we get settled. See you soon!
Remember: I didn’t forget the recipe: Natalie has it over here.