Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) & Jelly Layer Cake / by Chelsea Zwieg

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I have been hating on peanut butter for more years than I can remember. It's sticky, it's gross, a girl in my third grade class always had peanut butter stuck in her hair after lunch and all I knew was I wanted no part in that. So I've pretty much avoided it except in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Puppy Chow and I don't really think I've been missing all that much. But, I do eat almond butter on the daily and I could go on for days about how wonderful it is. But Chelsea, almond butter is also sticky. It might also get stuck in someone's hair after lunch. Well, these are risks I am willing to take for the beauty that is toasted almondy goodness all up in everything I eat. 

So when I had the idea to make a peanut butter and jelly cake it naturally turned into almond butter and jelly cake. But if you, like everyone else in the world, are pro-peanut butter, you can by all means go full PB&J for this cake. The cake layers are a super tender white buttermilk cake that gets stacked with layers of jam and peanut butter swiss meringue buttercream, for the most cake-ified sugar filled version of everyone's favorite sandwich. 

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Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) and Jelly Cake

Makes a 4 layer 6" cake

| Ingredients

For the cake: 

  • 2 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 

For the frosting: 

  • 2/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter) 
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, divided

| Instructions | 

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of four 6" cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of the pan with non-stick spray. 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cut the butter into small tbsp. size chunks and add to the bowl. Mix on low until the butter is cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture is sandy and cornmeal like. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg whites and vanilla. Add half of the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl well, add the remaining wet mixture and beat for another two minutes. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to finish cooling. 

For the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl of a pot of simmering water and cook, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Return the bowl to the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue is room temperature. Swap the whisk for the paddle attachment and let the mixer run on low. Add the butter, a few tbsp. at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate for a little bit before adding more. Once all of the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream comes together and is silky smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low to beat out any air bubbles. 

Remove half of the frosting to a separate bowl and fold in 1/4 cup strawberry jam. Add 1/4 cup peanut butter to the buttercream still in the mixer and beat until incorporated.

Once the cake layers have cooled, trim and level each layer. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup raspberry jam on top of the cake layers. I found it easiest to warm the jam up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to that it spread really easily and soaked into the layers more like a syrup. Fill and stack the cake with the peanut butter buttercream. Crumb coat the outside of the cake with the strawberry buttercream and chill until firm. Decorate the outside of the cake with the remaining buttercream however you choose. A good tutorial for doing petal cakes can be found here. Store cake at room temperature.