Payday Cake

Recently I learned 2 important things about myself.

1) I will put on pink lipstick before any task I think may be stressful or that may make me feel like I’m not in control. Like while I’m waiting for my ride to the airport, which happened to be quite late, and it happened to end up not mattering at all. (Is mattering even a word? I don’t think this thing has very good spell check.) Or like when I hear that our flight to Denver is going to be delayed due to blizzard conditions.

Nothing I can do about it, so I might as well put on some lipstick.

Orrrr like when we discover that one out of three suitcases is delayed or whatever. Just hand over the delivery address, and reach for the lipstick. Or finally, when the car rental lady tells us that it will be EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for anything more equipped than a Crown Victoria.

payday cake 2

Crown Victoria it will be. With a side of lipstick and snowy roads. Which brings me to the 2nd thing I learned. (Btdubs, this is upwards of 4 coats of lipstick on the day.)

2) When forced to drive in wintery conditions on unfamiliar highways, I will get very squinty, and very tense, and I will grip the steering wheel until my fingers are numb. I mean, I live in Texas, so I think I just need some practice.

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And nothing even went wrong! Don’t look at me like that, it was fine. I handled that giant sedan like a pro. Or like a senior citizen pro who drives just a leeeeetle slow. But whatevs. We made it in one piece, and we didn’t even get stranded and need to live off the granola bars and water I meant to buy but didn’t. So prepared.

payday cake 1

You know what else helps in times of impending I-don’t-have-a-grip-on-this panic? Cake that tastes like a Payday bar. Truth. Lipstick only gets you so far.

I mashed some recipes together, like the Antique Caramel Cake from Baked Elements, and the caramel-peanut topping from Dorie Greenspan. And it came out tasting preeeeety close to a candy bar.  I made this for my beautiful mom’s birthday, but it’s perfect for any celebration!  Kind of a show-stopper with all that drizzling caramel and whatnot.  What better way to ring in the new year than with caramel and peanuts?

payday cake 3

That’s definitely how I’d like to spend my 2013.

Payday Cake

Makes one 3-layer 6-inch cake (the way I made it, gets some extra height and drama!) or one 2-layer 8-inch cake

Ingredients:
For cake
2 cups + 2 TBS sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda

For frosting
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
10 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature (go full fat here since it’s such a main player)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

For caramel-peanut sauce
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 TBS creamy peanut butter
1 cup salted peanuts

Directions:
1. Make cake – Preheat oven to 350 with racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions.  Butter the cake pans, then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper rounds.  Butter the parchment paper, and dust the pans lightly with flour, tapping out any excess.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
4. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk (begin and end with the flour), beating after each addition until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in any remaining flour with a rubber spatula.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops.  Bake for 25-30 minutes if using 6-inch pans, or 30-35 minutes for 8-inch pans (either way, bake until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed).  Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then turn cakes out of pans and remove the parchment.  Let cakes cool completely.
6. Make caramel peanut sauce – While the cakes are baking, make the caramel peanut sauce.  Combine both sugars and the water in a medium saucepan and stir together.  Heat over medium-high heat, swirling the pan every once and a while, for about 5-10 minutes until the caramel has darkened some.
7. Turn off the heat, and carefully add the heavy cream (the caramel with bubble and sputter a bit when you do).  Stir in the cream, then stir in the peanut butter.  Finally, add the peanuts.  Pour the caramel into a shallow heatproof dish to cool completely.  You can cover the dish and chill in the refrigerator for a bit if you’re in a hurry (like I was).
8. Make frosting – In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and 4 TBS of butter.  Heat over medium heat to a boil, and cook for 15 more seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream (watch out again).  Pour this mixture into another heatproof container to cool completely.
9. Once the butter mixture is cooled, beat together the remaining 6 TBS of butter and the cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat int the peanut butter, then the cooled butter mixture.  Gradually add the powdered sugar with the mixer on low speed.  Once all the powdered sugar has been added, beat the frosting briefly on medium-high speed until fluffy.  If the frosting seems too loose to spread, refrigerate until ready to use.
10. Assemble cake – Slice a little off the tops of each cake layer so that they’re all flat.  Spread a small amount of frosting in the center of the cake platter you want to use (this keeps the cake from sliding around).  Place the first cake layer down and spread about 1/3 cup (or 1/2 cup if making 8-inch layers) of frosting evenly on the 1st layer.  Spoon some of the caramel peanut sauce (getting a lot of peanuts!) on top of the frosting.  Repeat with the 2nd layer (and 3rd if using).
11. Frost the sides of the cake with the frosting.  On top of the cake, spoon on some of the caramel peanut sauce, using as much as you want.  Let some of the caramel drip down the sides of the cake.  Refrigerate the cake until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.  Cake will keep, covered, for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Recipe for cake adapted from Baked Elements; recipe for caramel peanut sauce adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Thanks for reading, happy baking, and happy New Year!!!  Drink champagne, wear something sparkly, and be safe!

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