desserts, snacks

Baked, Occasionally: chocolate texas sheet cake with peanut butter frosting.

chocolate texas sheet cake with peanut butter frosting.

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 – 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.

you've got to be kidding me

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.

pro joan

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:

joan laughing

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.

sad joan

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.”

joan burn the place down

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.)

cheers joan

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.

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  • Reply Brianne March 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I think Joy the Baker has a recipe for a cake like this in her first cookbook, and it’s literally been on my to-make list for YEARS. I won’t lie, now I’m kind of afraid. I love Joan Holloway, but she is also terrifying. This story is hilarious and very on point! I made peanut butter monster cookiesyesterday and don’t regret it, so I think that’s my peanut butter and chocolate fix for a while. Good luck with the move!

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      I WAS THE SAME! I don’t remember if it was the JTB one i saw long ago or another one, but the idea of a sheet cake has been haunting me forever, and i’ve been too afraid to make it until now, which is weird? Certainly we’re both talented enough to make a cake on a sheet, but maybe it’s the size that’s intimidating.

      Joan Holloway IS terrifying, but on this day, i EMBODIED Joan. And yes, i was terrifying also.

  • Reply Ashley March 7, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Good luck with the move! Don’t you love/hate the feeling you get when moving of A) why do I own all this crap, let’s just throw it all out (but please, no, I promise to sort through it when we put it away in the new house) + B) I need to CLEAN ALL THE THINGS NOW. It’s a struggle. One I hope you’re not experiencing. 🙂

    But this cake needs to get in my mouth now and replace those devilish Reese’s Eggs sitting on my counter. I can’t stop with them. Also, got to love a recipe that can withstand mistakes. It’s awesome.

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks Ashley! We’re here, we’re settling in, we’re amazed we got through it. And YES to everything you said about moving! I was literally laughing at some of the things i have that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of because reasons, girl, REASONS. and then yes: had to clean all the things. ALL THE THINGS. It’s sweet of you to hope i wasn’t experiencing exactly those things, but let me tell you that i was experiencing EXACTLY all of that. The worst is over with: I’m onto painting all the things now, which is fun but ridiculous b/c once i paint a room, i immediately get mad at the OTHER rooms for not being painted.

      Honestly, this cake needs to be in my mouth right now, so let’s one of us make it and then you just come visit me and we’ll eat things.

  • Reply John/Kitchen Riffs March 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Congrats on the move! Always a pain, but always worth it. Totally a chance to clean out all that stuff you’ve been wanting to. Unless you’re like we usually are and run out of time — so end up moving it!

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Thank you! Agree on all counts, worth it but a pain is an excellent way to put it. I loved the cleaning out part, although some days that got a little overwhelming, but i REFUSED to move things that i didn’t need anyway, so we got it done and I feel great about that.

  • Reply elizabeth March 10, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Good luck with the moving! This cake sounds SO GOOD and I’m saving it for when I have a huge crowd to feed because I don’t know if even my in-laws would be able to handle a cake this size as-is.

    Amazing use of Joan GIFs, A++ would read again.

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks! Moving went really well, thankfully. As well as it could, that is: i’ve decided no matter how well you plan it’s always a bit chaotic, but it got done, nothing was left behind, and we’re here and settled (settling? somewhere in there.)

      This cake was DELIGHTFUL: i don’t know if it’s the flavor that got me, or the fact that i got to cook a dang cake on a sheet pan, but it’s an awesome one for a party, and the flavor was spot-on.

      *bowing for your Joan GIFs compliment*

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