Three layers of rich, tender chocolate cake, filled with peanut butter buttercream, and topped with an indulgent layer of dark chocolate ganache.
It’s my birthday! Happy birthday to me! I’ve reached the grand old age of 28…. Gosh, that sounds like a scarily large number. When did that happen?!
Very soon I’ll be off out for dinner to celebrate, there’s promise of pizza and prosecco, but first I have a cake to share with you.
I have a birthday confession to make; this isn’t my only birthday cake this year. Oh no, later today, once we get back from dinner, an incredible looking chocolate and raspberry cake will be tucked into. A cake made by my Mum and brother’s girlfriend. They baked it up yesterday, and its been looking at me every time I open the fridge, daring me to have a taste.
One birthday cake really should be enough, but when its your birthday you should surround yourself with all of your favourite things, and as you well know, cake is one of my very favourite things.
So because its my birthday, I’m treating myself to another cake. This cake is everything that I love the most right now. Three moist, indulgent layers of chocolate cake, sandwiched with peanut butter buttercream, and topped with an excessively thick and generous layer of rich dark chocolate ganache.
Chocolate and peanut butter are the flavours I crave most right now. I can’t get enough of the salty sweetness. It’s a tall layer cake, my favourite kind of cake. I’ll take any excuse to make one. There’s something that makes me ridiculously happy about taking out that first slice, revealing the layers. There’s something very special too about eating a slice of layer cake. It just looks so satisfying when the slice fills the entire plate. It deserves to be eaten with a fork, making sure you scrape up the very last of the crumbs and ganache with the back of the prongs.
I absolutely love the flavours in this cake. The saltiness of the peanut butter in the buttercream balances out the sweetness of the cake, and the richness of the ganache. Its a subtle though, it tastes like peanut butter flavoured buttercream, rather than pure buttercream spread across the cake. Its deliciously creamy too, with none of the cloying texture peanut butter can be guilty of.
I’ve made mine with crunchy peanut butter. It gives a lovely mild crunch to each bite. I love the speckles of peanut too, peeking out from underneath the curtain of chocolate. If you’d prefer your buttercream smooth though, you could use smooth peanut butter.
Top the cake with your favourite peanut butter treats. Crushed salted peanuts, chopped peanut butter cups. I stopped short of throwing on handfuls of peanut M&Ms, but that doesn’t mean that you have to! Pretzels add an elegant height and a really satisfying bite. Far more went straight into my mouth than made it anywhere near the cake.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got two cakes to eat!
– When pouring the ganache you need to have a texture that is slightly thickened, but still pourable. Pour it directly to the top of the cake and let it slowly drip down. If you’d prefer the ganache in a thinner layer, pour it onto the chilled cake while its still warm.
– I like the crumbs showing through the cake, but if you would rather a smoother more polished finish, crumb coat the cake in a thin layer of buttercream, then pop it into the fridge to chill for half an hour before covering in the remaining buttercream.
– I used light olive oil, but any light tasting oil will work.
- 340g plain flour
- 525g caster sugar
- 128g cocoa powder
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 ¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 375ml full fat milk
- 188ml oil (I used light olive oil)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 350ml boiling water
- ----- for the peanut butter buttercream
- 250g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 200g peanut butter
- 500g icing sugar, sifted
- ----- for the ganache
- 300ml double cream
- 300g dark chocolate
- ----- to decorate
- handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- handful of salted pretzels
- 3 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 350F.
- Grease and line 3 x 20cm round tins.
- Take a large bowl, and sift in your dry ingredients, the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Using a whisk, or a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until they are evenly combined.
- Measure the milk, oil, and vanilla extract into a large jug. Crack in the eggs, and gently whisk together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together to incorporate.
- Once all the ingredients are evenly mixed, pour in the boiling water. Stir rapidly to combine. The mixture will be very runny and thin.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the 3 tins. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. The cakes have a very tender crumb structure, so the cakes may still appear to have a bit of wobble in their tins.
- Cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, then very carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- While the cakes cool, make your ganache and buttercream.
- Begin with the buttercream.
- Beat the butter until it is soft and light. Add the peanut butter and continue to beat until its full incorporated with the butter. Slowly add the sifted icing sugar, and beat until the mixture is a creamy, spreadable constancy.
- Next, make your ganache.
- Break your dark chocolate into small chunks, and place in a heatproof bowl.
- Gently heat your double cream in a pan until just at boiling point. Remove from the heat, leave to stand for 30 seconds, then pour over your dark chocolate. Rapidly stir the hot cream until all the chocolate has melted into it. Leave to cool for about half an hour, until slightly firm, but still pourable.
- Select the plate or stand you want to serve your cake on, and begin to assemble.
- Handling the cake carefully, place the first layer of cake upside down on the plate. Cover the cake with buttercream, then add the next layer of cake and repeat. Top with the final layer, then cover the entire cake with buttercream. If you don't want any crumbs to show in your buttercream, begin with a thin coat of buttercream, refrigerate for half an hour, then cover the with remaining buttercream.
- Use the remaining buttercream to coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Put the fridge to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Check your ganache is still pourable, if its gone too thick, heat it in the microwave at 15 second intervals, until you are able to pour it. Pour it all into the centre of the cake, and encourage it to gently pour down the sides of the cake. Decorate with chopped peanuts, reeses cups, and pretzels.