Yesterday my daughter and I made a peanut butter cake for Father’s Day. My dad’s love of peanut butter is a bit legendary. When he was a child, he sliced his tongue in two by licking peanut butter off a knife. This incident did not slow down his preference for peanut butter. At all times, there is a jar of Jif in my parent’s refrigerator that is just for him. It is the only luxury he keeps for himself. He eats it by the tablespoonful.
Last year I made this cake, but its contour looked less like a cake and more like an Appalachian foothill. I’ve been baking cakes and making homemade icing for a long time, but I was somewhat hopeless in leveling and decorating these cakes. The beginner’s cake decorating class that my daughter and I are taking has helped a lot.
Before I close this post in time to bring this cake to my dad, I will share my recipe for peanut butter buttercream.
Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing
Makes enough to ice a 2 layer 8-inch cake, or 18 cupcakes
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup liquid vanilla coffee creamer
Cream butter and peanut butter with a mixer. Sprinkle in salt. Add powdered sugar by the cup, blending well after each addition. Pour in coffee creamer slowly and blend on medium speed until the icing reaches spreading consistency. I’ve found that the amount of liquid or powdered sugar I use in an icing varies by the heat and humidity of the season. During the winter, I usually add a bit more liquid, and summer leads toward the opposite, more powdered sugar.
I devoted this evening to making a ludicrous amount of buttercream frosting for our second cake decorating class. I didn’t post an update about the first class because it was one of several interludes in my parenting history I keep in a mental file called Mother of the Year™.
We were missing a couple supplies needed for the first class, which so bogged down the pace of instruction that we finished a half hour late. I also had some spontaneous short fuse moments. I ask for your pardon in advance for the following: some people have resting bitch face, but I also suffer from resting bitch voice when the pace of my day overwhelms me. That day went full bore from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and I feel awful that I failed to suppress that voice for the occasion.
Today I learned that 10 cups of buttercream is the absolute frosting capacity of a six quart mixer. The result was something my mother calls a “full mess.” A mess is “full” when you hope against hope that no one will witness the scene until it’s at least halfway cleaned up.
By the way, our instructor has been decorating cakes professionally for 42 years. Willie Nelson gave a free concert in my town 35 years ago, and she baked the cake for his reception. She had a snapshot of this cake, which contained a portrait in icing of the singer. It really looked just like he did back then!
When he saw the cake, he said, “I’ve been done in everything but frosting until today.”
Today my daughter and I tried out the Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes recipe from The Domestic Rebel, and we were both delighted with the end result. This was the very first time we decorated cupcakes with a frosting tip, too.
For a baked good with bold flavor, this was a simple and super clever recipe. It involves adding cinnamon extract and crushed Red Hot candies to a boxed cake mix and the homemade icing that tops it.
Now that we’ve ventured into using a frosting tip, other cupcake ideas are rising to the surface of my mind. I think we might try redoing this recipe with Jolly Rancher candies and lemon extract, provided the process of crushing those larger candies doesn’t traumatize my blender.
Pulverized Red Hots
I haven’t found a better lighting for edibles than sunlight.
Since baking is on my mind today, I thought I’d pass along a tip I learned in a cooking class offered by the Ohio State Agricultural Extension. You can replace the eggs and oil with a 15 ounce can of plain pumpkin when baking a cake from a boxed mix.
Pumpkin itself has a subtle flavor that gets lost in a cake. I’ve baked chocolate cake with pumpkin puree, and the cake tasted just as chocolatey as it usually does.
This is an easy way to cut some calories from dessert while adding a vegetable.