This is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on crack. Imagine the most decadent version of the classic lunchtime staple and you’re not even close to how sweet, salty, and luscious this cake was.
Yes, another birthday — I have a lot of awesome friends with big birthdays this winter and for APP’s 30th he requested the ultimate of flavor combinations, the PB&J one-two punch. The cupcakes I made for last year’s Back to School party left a lasting impression on him and a celebration of this magnitude called for one gigantic cake rather than several little ones, right? Right.
Similarly to the PB&J cupcakes, I used a recipe (obviously I only used the cake recipe and ignored any and all references to lemon curd) for a very fluffy, white cake made with a lot of whipped egg whites as an homage to the slices of classic white bread that are a key component to the inspirational sandwich.
After splitting the two cake layers in half (with painstaking precision, I might add — they were only slightly lopsided) I spread on a thin layer of creamy peanut butter frosting (Ina’s, naturally — it’s basically peanut butter hopped up on heavy cream, butter, and powdered sugar) followed by a thick pool of grape jelly. Obviously you could use any flavor of jam or jelly, but grape is oh so iconic. Instead of just smearing on the lumpy jelly, I employed the same technique from the French Apple Tart I made this fall — forcing the jelly through a fine sieve so it comes out all smooth, luscious, and spreadable. Nice.
This teetering 4-layer stack of peanut butter and jelly goodness was the first cake I’ve made that required me to use sturdy skewers to stabilize it. Legit, I know. Because of the naturally slippery nature of jelly, the layers just needed a little something to help them stay upright and fortunately I have a secret supply of skewers for testing cake done-ness that, when clipped to size, make perfect little pseudo-dowels. Although, we did have a slight panic moment while slicing the cake when we had only located one skewer after cutting almost half the cake. Yikes. No one was injured while eating…that we know of.
Look at those perfectly chopped peanuts. They’re even divided into size categories, ensuring all the peanuts pressed along the side of the cake would be symmetrical. This meticulous peanut method, and a great deal of photography, assistance, and general cake-related support was provided by bestie and former roomie Jenny. Her help was invaluable, especially when she talks me off a cake-meltdown ledge and tells me to finally stop smoothing the icing on the top of the cake — otherwise I would just keep spreading. Also, the cake was for her boyf, so it was fun that she was a part of the assembly process!
What’s the deal with the irregular letter sizes in the writing, you might ask? Well, if you haven’t noticed from earlier in this post, a moniker we typically employ for the birthday boy in question is APP. You can’t spell happy without APP. So I thought it would be funky and cool to make a subliminal birthday message, you know, like a magic eye except you don’t have to put your face close to the cake or cross your eyes to see it. I thought it was awesome and Jenny echoed my thoughts. However, there was many a guest at the party who thought it simply said Happy Birthday, or that I’m not able to pipe letters all the same size. One friend, upon learning that there was what I referred to as a subliminal message on the cake, exclaimed gleefully as she ran over to take a look, “Is it a tree?!” No, it is not a tree.
A-yum. Look at those layers. PB&J+cake=THE BEST. Sure, the filling gooped out a bit and the skewers posed a mildly dangerous inconvenience, but this cake was glorious and seemed to transport everyone who took a bit back to simpler, peanut butter and jelly-filled times. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the big 3-0 than with a whimsical, nostalgic cake like this (being surrounded by your friends and family and a taco bar doesn’t hurt either…way to go APP!)