I’ve been baking with The Cake Slice Bakers now for almost a year and every January we choose a new cake cookbook from which we bake the rest of the year. We have a special treat this year from America’s Test Kitchen and you know what a fan of them I am.
Their new cake cookbook is coming out around the end of March this year and is called “The Perfect Cake.” A great cookbook choice for our little group (which, by the way, is accepting new members if you’re interested.)
Again, this book won’t be out until March, but America’s Test Kitchen (#atkcake) was gracious enough to let us preview, bake, and review some of the cake recipes in the book. I chose this Peanut Butter Pretzel cake as my January cake bake and could hardly wait to dig in!
This is my first attempt at a three-layer cake and it was very interesting. Mainly because I only have two 8-inch cake pans, so had to bake two of the layers, then clean one of the pans out and bake the third layer.
After baking this Peanut Butter Pretzel Cake I’ve decided to invest in a third pan. I’ll be making it again!
The cake itself is a pretzel cake, not a peanut butter cake. The cake does have a good amount of pretzel “flour” (pretzels ground to a fine grain in the food processor) and the pretzel flour gives the cake almost a multi-grain texture.
The star, though, is that peanut butter frosting. Rather, I might say the butter, butter peanut butter frosting (lots ‘o butter). It’s creamy, fluffy, sweet, and a little salty. Like a big buttery peanut buttery cloud.
Seriously, it’s one of the best frostings I’ve ever had and it really completes the barely sweet cake.
This cake is a bit of work, but it’s worthy every bite!
- For the Cake:
- 5 oz thin pretzels, broken into 1/2" pieces (2 cups)
- 1 1/4 C whole milk, room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 C (7 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 C (10 1/2 oz) sugar
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 14 pieces and softened
- For the Candied Peanuts:
- 1/2 C dry-roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- For the Frosting:
- 24 tbsp (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened
- 1 1/2 C creamy peanut butter
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
- For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 8" round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and lightly flour the pans. Process the pretzels in a food processor until finely ground, 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg whites, molasses, and vanilla.
- In a stand mixer bowl, mix the ground pretzels, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time (be patient!) and mix until only pea-sized pieces remain, about 1 minute.
- Add of of the milk/egg mixture to the stand mixer bowl and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low and add the remaining milk/egg mixture. Beat until incorporated about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled; that's OK). Give the batter a final stir by hand to get the stuff off the bottom of the bowl.
- Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Bake until tops are golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out virtually clean (don't over bake), about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
- Let the cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans, peeling off the parchment paper. Let cool completely on rack for about 2 hours.
- For the candied peanuts: Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Bring all of the candied peanuts ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until water evaporates and sugar appears dry and somewhat crystallized and evenly coats the peanuts, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir peanuts until sugar turns amber (watch carefully so they won't burn), about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the peanuts to the prepared sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Let cool completely - about 10 minutes.
- For the Frosting: Using a stand mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, cream, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly adding the powdered sugar, and beat until fully combined and smooth, about 4 minutes.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- After the cakes are cooled, place one cake on your cake platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting evenly over the top, right to the edges of the cake. Repeat with 2nd layer, pressing the cake down lightly to adhere, and top with the 3/4 cup of frosting. Place 3rd cake layer on top, pressing lightly to adhere again.
- Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the cake. Press the pretzel pieces around the bottom third of the cake. Mound the candied peanuts in the center of the cake.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Before serving leftover cake, bring it to room temperature to soften the frosting.
Tips and Stuff:
If you're making this ahead of time for an event, add the candied peanuts and pretzels right before serving. The pretzels get a little soggy if stored in the refrigerator.
If you don't have a food processor (what??), use a blender. The ground pretzels give the cake a great texture.
Be patient putting the butter in the cake. The result is worth it!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 807Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 1189mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 3gSugar: 34gProtein: 14g
Nutrition Values are Approximate