I love this cake. I compare every other cake against it and have yet to find anything to rival it – that’s not just my opinion but I’ve consistently heard it over the years from so many people. You need to make this and be a cake baking hero for all of your friends. So, this beauty has been in my repertoire for the past 5 or 6 years now and I’ve been experimenting, adjusting and perfecting it for that long and I think I’ve got it to a place where I want to share it…finally after half a decade or so.
In my family, it has been nicknamed Johnny’s birthday cake because I make it for him on his birthday – he’s one lucky brother-in-law! However, over the years, this cake has become somewhat famous in my circles. It gets made for parties, birthdays and I’ve even made hundreds of them in cupcake form for our women’s conference a couple of years ago.
The brilliance of this whole thing is that the chocolate cake part is just a great cake recipe all around. Incredibly moist, rich but not overly sweet and you can put whatever frosting you want with it as well. Originally, I would make this in 3 round cake pans and frost in the traditional way but I love leaving the layers of cake and frosting undone – partially because I lack the patience to properly ice the cake. But don’t tell anyone that.
Parchment paper is your friend. A gift from above. Its essential when baking.
You’ll see that I keep my cut out layers of cake on the backside of a baking tray. I’ve also just built my first layer and added my cake collar. The next step which I didn’t capture was the piping of the frosting. Just keep repeating.
Just out of the freezer and waiting for the unveiling.
Slip off the cake ring.
Removing the cake collar carefully. You may also want to give them a little spray with baking spray when you are building it to help with the removal process.
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- 12oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- ⅔ cup of smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup peanut butter cup, chopped
- Special equipment - parchment paper, 9” cake ring, 2 3” cake collars, 12”x18”x2” cake pan, 1 16’ pastry bag, 1A decorating tip, 1 small offset spatula
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease the bottom of your cake pan and then line it with parchment paper that you have cut to fit. Be sure also to butter your paper.
- In your stand mixers bowl sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set the mixer on low and then add the oil and sour cream. Once combined, increase the mixers speed to medium and add in the water, vinegar, vanilla and granulated coffee. Add in the eggs to the mixture and blend until well combined. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides down. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 - 35 minutes, depending on the cake pan (begin testing cake for doneness at 25 -28 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool completely or place in freezer.
- While the cake cools, make the frosting by adding the cream cheese, cream and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to very low and gradually add in the sugar. Once combined, turn mixer to medium high for 1 minute. Reduce speed and add in peanut butter until just combined being sure to not over mix. Add the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a 1A decorating tip and set aside.
- To assemble the cake, take the cake ring and cut out 2 cake rounds. Using a spatula, scoop out cake rounds and set aside. Wash and dry the cake ring and place in the center of the cake plate you plan to serve with. Using the remaining cake in the cake pan, break it apart and place in the center of the cake ring, filling all the gaps and pressing down gently to make a layer. Next, take the cake collar and line the cake ring just above your built cake layer. Gently and evenly pipe out some of the frosting on top of your built layer - smooth with your small offset spatula. Add another cake collar, followed by a layer of cake and piped frosting on top then the last cake round. Pipe the remaining frosting on top and gently smooth out. Sprinkle the cup of chopped peanut butter cups.
- Place in the freezer and chill for 2 hours. Remove 30 minutes before serving.