Birthday Cake Redemption
Last year, I royally screwed up Mr. J’s birthday cake. I forgot the eggs…wah wah. I like to warm up my eggs a little before baking, and I left them in their warm water bath instead of mixing them in the batter. The result wasn’t TOTALLY disgusting, but it wasn’t great either. The cake was flat…both physically and taste-wise. I ended up cutting rounds of cake with a biscuit cutter and layering it in ramekins with the peanut butter butter cream I’d made. It was cute, but not the best result ever.
This year, I decided I was going to really do it up big, and I think I had success. I made a chocolate and peanut butter lovers delight: Devil’s Food cake (only 5 layers), peanut butter butter cream with whipped cream frosting, and cookie crunch filling…OH MY! He insisted I go write down my methods immediately so he could have this cake again next year. Woo hoo!
Yes, this cake does take a while to make, but it was so so worth it to make up for last year and see the happiness his face!
And just in case you were wondering how two people eat a 5-layer cake with tons of other holiday sweets lingering around…I froze 3/4 of it in slices for easy consumption later!
And here’s what I wrote out for future birthdays to come. Note: I would like to try spreading the cookie crunch layer over all 4 filling opportunities. I think it’s a little too thick the way I did it here. However, Mr. J insists that it’s the perfect ratio and that I should never, ever mess with it (hence the note to self at the top).
Mr. J’s Favorite Famous Fabulous Peanut Butter Birthday Cake
DON’T MESS WITH THIS … OR ELSE! (HE’LL KNOW)
Prepare Cake Layers
Prepare 2 boxes of Devil’s Food cake mix according to package instructions using warm ingredients
Using 3 – 8” cake pans, put 1 ½ cups of batter in each pan sprayed with cooking spray (this will be half of the batter)
Cook until centers aren’t jiggly, about 15 minutes. This was trial and error for me since the layer is thinner than what the package instructions indicate since it’s spread over 3 pans instead of 2. I also have very dark pans that cook rather quickly. The jiggle test is really your best bet…just gently shake the oven rack (wear a mitt, of course).
Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a dinner plate lined in wax paper over the top of the pan and invert to remove the layer. Remove all layers. Don’t try to dump the cake pan upside down when the layers are still warm. One of your layers will die…that’s why I had 5 layers instead of 6. It was ok though…we just used that layer as a sample to make sure the cake was ok 😉
Clean cake pans (carefully, they’ll still be hot), spray with cooking oil, and put 1 ½ cups of batter in each. Cook those and cool in pan completely on wire rack.
Make Peanut Butter Butter Cream
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
18 oz. creamy peanut butter
Cream together with hand mixer in a larger-than-you-think-you-need bowl.
Add 2 ¼ cups of powdered sugar gradually, mixing after each addition.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of milk or cream (I used almond milk this time).
Fluff on medium power for 5 minutes.
Make whipped cream
Chill bowl and whisk attachment in freezer for at least 10-15 minutes before beginning.
1 – 8 oz. container of regular whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
Add both ingredients to bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until thick. Watch carefully!
Carefully fold whipped cream into butter cream. Beat with hand mixer briefly until well incorporated.
Cookie Crunch Filling
Mock Dairy Queen Icecream Cake Crunch
1 package of regular Oreos
1 – 7.25 oz. Magic Shell topping
Pulse 2 out of 3 rows of Oreos in food processor until course crumbs form. “Discard” 3rd row of Oreos.
Warm bottle of Magic Shell under hot water. Shake well according to package instructions. Empty entire bottle of topping over cookies.
Pulse 5 – 6 times to incorporate cookie crumbs and topping. Set aside until ready to assemble cake.
Equipment I used: glass cake stand, cardboard round (not required but nice to have), straight spatula (like this one, offset would work well, too) to transfer and smooth out frosting, cake decorating turntable (I have this one, again not required but nice to have), frosting bag and coupler, and two cake decorating tips. I used a large round one for general use to spread icing evenly over the outside of the cake and the filling layers. I also used it to make the well to contain the cookie crunch filling. I used a star tip to add decorative details. I’m definitely still working on the patience, gentle hand, flick of the wrist, and equal spacing needed for making an attractive cake border. Practice makes perfect…oh darn!
Place 8” cardboard round onto work surface. Place 1-2 Tablespoons of frosting on board. Place first layer of cake top-down. Pipe a layer of frosting on top and even it out. Add second layer of cake (top-up). Pipe around the edges of the cake layer and fill in the well with half of cookie crunch mixture. Add a layer of cake (top-down). Pipe a layer of frosting on top and even it out. Add a layer of cake (top-up). Pipe around the edges of the cake layer and fill in the well with second half of cookie crunch. Place top layer of cake top-down.
Add crumb coat. Chill for 20 minutes. It won’t really set like straight-up butter cream because of the whipped cream, but the crumb coat was still really helpful for keeping crumbs out of the final layer of icing.
Ice cake and smooth out the surface.
Decorate cake with remaining icing and Reese’s cups. I used 6 regular-sized Reese’s total. For the top, cut ¼ wedges out of 4 Reeses. Pipe large dollops of frosting at 4 equidistant points on the top edge of the cake. Place ¾ pieces of Reeses there. Pipe smaller dollops in between these points and place ¼ pieces there. Cut remaining 2 Reeses in quarters. Along the bottom edge of the cake, place small dollops below each of the candy points on the top rim of the cake. Stick the ¼ round pieces in each dollop along the bottom. Alternatively, you could use any size Reese’s cups or Reese’s Pieces to decorate. You could also nod at the cookie crunch and use Oreos.
Store in refrigerator.