Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Birthday Cake Experiment: 8 Layer Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake

Last year for his 25th birthday I baked my brother this delicious chocolate and peanut butter cake from Smitten Kitchen.  It was quite well-received and touted "the best cake ever" (thanks Deb!) so when his 26th birthday rolled around last week I knew I had to deliver.  I didn't want to bake the same cake again, but I knew it would be hard to top last year's.  After some brainstorming I settled apprehensively on an 8-layer chocolate and peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache filling and peanut butter buttercream (if you haven't noticed, peanut butter and chocolate is the flavor du jour).  This is definitely the tallest and most complicated cake I have ever made, but taking it step by step made it not too hard, even for me.  Here's how it went down:

First things first I made the ganache recipe from this cake with Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate.  I left it in the fridge to set up while I did the rest of my baking.

Next, I baked this recipe of chocolate cake which is actually the same recipe from the back of the Hershey's cocoa box.  It is a kind of odd recipe involving boiling water and a super-thin batter but the cake comes out beautifully moist (sorry if you hate that word) and rich-but-not-too-rich.  It's also not too sweet.  Perfect! 

I turned them out onto a rack to cool while I baked the peanut butter cake.

This peanut butter cake.  I found the recipe on The Daring Gourmet and boy am I glad I did.  It tastes like a giant peanut butter cookie!

Next step.  I used my Wilton cake leveler to trim the domed tops of the cake layers and slice the layers in half.  I must say it works really well, but only when the pre-determined height settings fit your needs.  When they didn't, I had to use a large bread knife.  No big deal though.  I began with a chocolate layer on a swiveling cake plate with strips of parchment tucked under the edges.  The ganache set up a bit too hard in the fridge to be spreadable so I portioned off enough for the layer in a bowl and microwaved it for 5 seconds.  This got it to a perfectly spreadable consistency so I used my small offset spatula to cover the layer in ganache.  


Up it goes!  This took awhile, not gonna lie.  I tried to get the layers as flat and as uniform as possible.  Experience has taught me that sloping and uneven cake layers just don't look as pretty.

And the cake is built!  Now bed time.

The next morning and the cake is ready to be iced.

There's my peanut butter buttercream looking a bit like cement but tasting delicious.  I used Wilton's recipe and I loved it!

This might've been the hardest part of making this cake - trying not to catch many crumbs in the icing and making sure it went on evenly.  

Ta da!  The icing had a light, whipped texture so the finished look was a bit...rustic, but I loved how it looked nonetheless!

Party time!  Here's the birthday boy and lovely Cindi with his cake.  (Excuse the candles...never buy sparklers from Target).

The first slice!

We did a number on it.

And we even got to take a few slices home!  

This birthday cake experiment was a success!


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