Sharing is caring
There are cakes that you make and wish to share with everyone so they taste your outstanding baking skills. This is not one of those cakes. This cake is the one you secretly wish no one found out about so it can be sitting pretty in your fridge. And have a piece. Every. Day. Of. The. Week.
But sharing is caring. And I did have to share this cake. It is not often that I get to share my foods with others than my immediate family and, you know, impress them a bit with my recipes. But we had a big family gathering the night I shot the cake so after taking pretty pictures I put everything back together and it was a go. It was a hit! Everyone had a piece, even people who usually don't have dessert or people who are not supposed to have dessert were asking for more.
As when you pick up your clothes at the last minute and later realize what a genius combination you just made, this was exactly what happened with this cake. No research. No big thinking trying to create an epic recipe. Just saw the first peaches of the season and thought I had to use them. After a few long weeks without posting I needed these to make my grand return. Kind of how Taylor Swift made it but in a smaller scale kinder way.
I'd been having chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting in my mind for a while now. The peaches were the cherry on top! This is a single sheet cake so it’s dense and rich in texture. The frosting is not overly sweet thanks to my trick of substituting part of the confectioner’s sugar with cornstarch. To cut the sweet I slightly poached the peaches in the same cake syrup but with a touch of balsamic vinegar. A small touch that makes the difference and also makes a beautiful contrast with the chocolate cake.
You will have a tough decision to make. I bet you are going to share it at the end. It’s too much goodness not to share with the world. And the world not knowing that it came from you!
1. The butter for the cake should be softened at room temperature but the butter for the sugar should be soft but still a bit hard towards the center. Still a bit chilly so it remains whole through the beating process.
2. The natural peanut butter should be well blended before you measure and incorporate with the other ingredients.
3. Be aware of baking time. For me the ideal time was 32 minutes, no more than that because the edge will be too hard.
4. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch together.
Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream and Balsamic Poached Peaches
Total time - 1½ hour, including cooling timesActive time - 40 minutes
Equipment - Standup mixer or electric hand mixer, 9" cake pan
Unsalted butter – 1 stick, 8 TBSP
Natural peanut butter, already mixed with its oil – ¼ cup
Raw sugar – ¾ cup
Dark brown sugar – ¾ cup
Unbleached all purpose flour – 1½ cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – ¼ cup
Baking soda – 1½ Tsp
Eggs, room temperature - 2
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp
Real vanilla extract – 1 Tsp
Semi sweet chocolate chips – ¼ cup
Water – ¼ cup
Peaches cut in slices, fourths or halves to decorate cake
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread butter through a 9” cake pan or spray it with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a standup mixer with the paddle attachment or using an electric hand mixer with the beaters attached beat the butter in low-medium speed (setting 2 in the KitchenAid mixer) for 1 minute to incorporate some air, then add the peanut butter and beat for one more minute. Add in the raw and brown sugar and keep beating everything for 4 to 5 minutes, until the butter has a slightly pale color.
In the meantime whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time. Add the salt and vanilla. If needed, stop the mixer and scrap the walls of the bowl to incorporate everything and then continue beating. In a small microwave bowl mix the chocolate chips with the water and heat for 15 seconds to melt them. Mix until the melted chocolate and the water have blended. Add the flour mix into the mixing bowl in three additions, waiting a couple of seconds between each addition to let the flour incorporate to the butter. Stop the mixer and scrap down the batter if necessary and then continue beating. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat just 20 seconds more. Stop and make sure all the ingredients are well combined, scrapping down the wall of the bowl one last time, then beat for no more than 20 seconds just to mix everything together. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake between 30 to 32 minutes, until you insert a toothpick through the center of the cake and it comes out clean.
Take out of the oven and after a few minutes poke some tiny holes throughout it using a toothpick for soaking the cake (you will use about half of the syrup you made for soaking the cake). Using a pastry brush spread some of the syrup throughout the surface. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then turn it upside down on a plate and repeat this process throughout the bottom of the cake. Wait 10 to 15 minutes more and turn again. Let it cool completely before frosting.
Simple syrup for cake
Raw sugar – ½ cup
Filtered water – ¼ cup
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp
Real vanilla extract – ¼ Tsp
Anise stars – 3 to 4
Balsamic vinegar – 1 Tsp
Combine all the ingredients except the balsamic vinegar and heat in medium temperature for 5 minutes. Retire from heat and after soaking the cake on both sides (see above in the instructions for making the cake) add the balsamic vinegar to the saucepan and heat again. Gently toss the peaches in the syrup and slightly poach them in low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Take them out of the saucepan and rest them on a baking rack or parchment paper. If you want you may pour over the peaches any remaining syrup. Let them cool down until ready to decorate the cake.
Peanut butter buttercream
Unsalted butter, room temperature (see notes) – 1 stick
Natural peanut butter, already blended with it’s oil – ¼ cup + 1 heaping TBSP
Confectioner’s sugar – 3 ½ cup, sifted (see notes)
Cornstarch – ¼ cup
Fine sea salt – ½ Tsp + 1 pinch
Real vanilla extract – 1 Tsp
Unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or regular milk – 3 to 4 TBSP
In a large bowl sift the sugar with the cornstarch.
In the bowl of a standup mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter in moderate low speed for 1 minute (setting 2 in the Kitchen Aid mixer). Add the peanut butter and beat for 1 minute more. Gradually incorporate the sugar, waiting a few seconds of mixing between each addition before adding more. The frosting will become very stif. Add the salt and vanilla. Pour in three tablespoons of the milk you are using and beat for 3 to 4 minutes. If the frosting is too stiff or if you prefer a softer consistency add the extra tablespoon of milk and beat for 1 more minute. Spread evenly through the top of the cake.
Top the cake with the peaches and serve!