Peanut Butter Cake sandwiches peanut butter cream cheese frosting between two layers of peanut butter cake. It’s the best cake for peanut butter lovers!
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It has been years since I first shared this peanut butter cake recipe, but it will always hold a special place in my heart for two reasons.
The first is that Peanut Butter Birthday Cake is a recipe from Joy the Baker’s first cookbook. And it was at her Chicago book signing that I met one of my best girls, Stefanie from Sarcastic Cooking.
I had no way of knowing at that signing, or even when I first shared this recipe, that Stef would become one of my true, fast friends. She quickly went from a blog friend to a real-life friend!
And let me tell you, that’s a special thing in this big Internet world.
Stef and I have both come a long way in the past decade (!!). She has even become a cookbook author two times over, with Quick Prep Cooking with Your Instant Pot and The Big Book of Instant Pot Recipes.
The second reason this peanut butter cake is special to me is because I first made it for my then-93-year-old grandpa. Peanut butter was one of his favorite things and he loved this cake and the peanut butter frosting that goes with it.
Grandpa Swope has since passed away (at the age of almost 97!), but I still think of him every time I bake with peanut butter.
PEANUT BUTTER CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
I have to admit that I’m normally not a huge cake person, unless it is Coconut Cake, Homemade Yellow Cake topped with berries, or Angel Food Cake.
Honestly, I don’t like frosting that much. It’s usually much too sweet for me and seems to overwhelm the cake.
I am particularly suspicious of cream cheese frosting for some reason.
But this peanut butter cake changed that!
The cake itself is delightfully peanut buttery. The peanut butter cream cheese frosting lends just enough sweetness to balance out the cake (which isn’t very sweet on its own) without taking over the spotlight.
It’s basically a case of cake and frosting working hand-in-hand to make your mouth crazy happy.
You might be tempted to try to dress up this cake with something else, like a layer of chocolate ganache. (Pointed glance at my friend Susannah’s husband.)
But I promise you this: this cake stands tall on its own. You will quickly find that there’s no need to try to dress it up, because the peanut butter flavor and the cake’s texture are already so perfect!
HOW TO MAKE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE
Because this is a layer cake, this recipe does take a bit of time and patience – mostly waiting for the cakes to cool completely before you assemble the cake with the peanut butter frosting.
But trust me, it’s worth it! I’ve got a few handy tips for you to use along the way.
What peanut butter should you use?
You definitely want to use creamy peanut butter to make this cake and the accompanying frosting.
As for which type of creamy peanut butter:
I have successfully made this cake with good ol’ fashioned creamy peanut butter. You know, the type we all ate as kids in the 80s and 90s.
But I have also successfully used the no-stir natural peanut butter.
I do NOT recommend using the type of all-natural peanut butter that is basically only ground peanuts and nothing else. The texture tends to be pretty grainy and it’s just not as smooth as you need for this cake and frosting.
Do you have to use buttermilk?
One of the best things about this peanut butter cake recipe is that both the peanut butter and the buttermilk will help keep it moist and tender. They serve as a buffer to keep the cake layers from getting too dry.
So yes, you DO need to use buttermilk in this recipe, but don’t worry if you’re out!
You can easily use a buttermilk substitute with great results here.
How to grease and flour your cake pans
This recipe uses two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans and calls for you to grease and flour both of them.
This helps the cake layers release cleanly from the pans after they have cooled.
To do this, rub the inside of the pans with a thin layer of softened butter. Sometimes I will use the wrapper of the butter being used in the cake itself – there is often enough butter left on it to do this job well!
After the insides of the pans are coated in a thin layer of butter (you can also use shortening for this), add a few spoonfuls of flour. Tilt the pan all around, tapping gently on the sides, to cover the butter with a fine layer of flour.
When the pan is fully covered, turn it upside down over the sink to discard any remaining flour.
Making this cake
Make the peanut butter cake batter by creaming together the peanut butter, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. This will take about 3 minutes.
Don’t skimp on those 3 minutes, either! Take your time to do this properly.
Add the eggs one at a time. Beat each egg in well before adding the next.
Whisk together the dry ingredients, then add half of the flour mixture to the batter. Add all of the buttermilk, then add the rest of the flour mixture.
Another trick when making this cake is to finish folding in the final ingredients by hand with a spatula. It is easy to over-mix with an electric mixer!
Divide the cake batter into the prepared pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Making the peanut butter frosting
After the cake layers are baked, allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pans. Remove them from the pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.
The peanut butter cream cheese frosting will melt if the cakes are still warm from the oven. Patience pays off here.
When making the peanut butter frosting, make sure both the cream cheese and the butter are softened before mixing. Beat these two ingredients together for about a minute before adding the peanut butter and then the powdered sugar and vanilla.
This will help the cream cheese and butter to marry together and keep the frosting from breaking.
Once the cake layers are completely cooled, frost your cake layers with as much frosting as desired!
STORAGE AND MAKE-AHEAD TIPS
The assembled peanut butter layer cake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
It’s important to store the frosted cake in the fridge due to the cream cheese in the frosting.
If you want to make the components of the cake ahead of time, you absolutely can.
Bake the cake layers and store, wrapped in a layer of plastic followed by a layer of foil, in the freezer for up to 1 month.
You can make the peanut butter frosting up to 1 week in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Before using the frosting, let it come to room temperature and whip it with a mixer for about 30 seconds. Frost the cake as desired.
Make this Peanut butter cake. Feed it to your 90-something-year-old grandfather (or your any-year-old person of importance that happens to love peanut butter). It’ll be a hit.
This is one of the many recipes I have bookmarked to make from Joy’s cookbook! I looove peanut butter. So jealous you got to meet her!
Yes she is awesome, I met her here in CA and I’ve made a bunch of stuff from her book…and I’ll make a bunch more!!
Sooo jealous you got to meet Joy!!! I’ve had a “food blogger date” as well, no shame 😛 That cake looks rich and delicious and like pure perfection-I looove peanut butter!
I wonder if you could make these into cupcakes instead. Or a mini cake if you halved it? What do you think?
You, you could absolutely make these into cupcakes! I would just keep an eye on the baking time for cupcakes. I am not sure about halving it – sometimes baked goods don’t do quite as well if you halve or double them, sometimes they are fine – but you could certainly give it a try and let me know how it goes!
What type of flour would I use? Self rising, all purpose, cake flour?
Hi is all purpose flour plain flour ( uk) Thankyou
I am not familiar with UK flour, but I would assume it would be the same. I would describe all-purpose as “plain”
So exciting for you.This is a fantastic recipe,and I cant wait to give it a try.
I love joy! Not that I’ve met her or anything (jealous much!) but her personality comes out in her writing… not to mention those fabulous recipes. This looks AWESOME. Peanut buttery, moist delicious goodness! Almost as awesome as you Stephie. Just sayin’.
Stephie, ok dude, peanut butter is like my ultimate fave. . love this cake!!! and meeting Joy?!! could this post get any awesome-r? “It was like a blogger blind date.” oh my gawd . . love this!! 🙂
Can you bake this cake in a 9 X13 pan?
I haven’t tried it before, but i bet it can be done! You just may need to adjust the cooking time a bit.
What did you use between the layers, it looks different from the icing over the cake?
Hi Margaret – I used the same icing as on the outside of the cake! I have a theory this would be awesome with a layer of jam inbetween the layers as well, though
I am OBSESSED with peanut butter so I had to try this cake! When I made the cake the batter was super thick and baked in 25 minutes! What should the batter consistency be? Thin it out by adding more milk?
This sounds sooo good. My grandson loves reeses peanut butter cups so I think I will put chocolate frosting on it. YUM
I made this cake for our yearly birthday sunday at church. we served 12 cakes and this one is the only one that was completely gone at the end of the celebration. And I didn’t get to try any. So definitely will make it again, everyone said it was awesome.
That’s so great – aside from you not getting any! Hope you get to try it again soon. 🙂
Peanut butter cake sounds just amazing to me!
A peanut butter lover’s dream cake, thanks for the recipe
Get me a glass of milk! I’d love to just dive right into this cake – peanut butter heaven!
Oh my goodness this looks so delicious! Peanut butter is addicting!
I can’t believe I still haven’t bought this book – what am I waiting for, right? Totally going to see if I can find a used copy on Amazon right now!
This cake is awesome, I can’t wait to give it a try!!!
Isn’t it fun to meet your favorite blogger! The first blog I followed was Bakerella. I was so excited when I finally met her a couple years ago!
Wow! It’s always been a dream of mine to meet Joy! So glad you got to. 🙂 Also — this cake looks absolutely amazing!
What a deliciously moist looking peanut butter cake!
This looks absolutely amazing!! I love anything peanut butter!
Peanut Butters totally one of my all time favorite things along side chocolate! Such a gorgeous crumb on this cake!
This cake is calling my name!
Yep, this would be a hit for my oldest son’s birthday!
That’s so cool that you got to meet Joy! And what a yummy looking cake!
What a great cake for the kids when they come to visit next time!
I love all things peanut butter! This cake is a must!
I Iove peanut butter especially in a cake!
does anyone know the calories/slice of this cake?
Was dry and lacking flavor .I know peanut butter is dry but this was very dry .
Mine was really really dry too!! 🙁
Same here. I should have read the reviews from people who made it not the ones leaving five stars because of a pretty picture.
So glad to hear that I was not the only one who had a disappointing outcome with this cake. I should have read ALL of the reviews, not just the star rating. I was embarrassed when I served this for my son’s birthday. I wish people would wait to write reviews and rate recipes until they actually make the cake. Reviews that tell me that the recipe “looks” good are not at all helpful.
I am sorry you had trouble with this recipe! I have made this recipe many times without issue – do you mind sharing what was amiss? Perhaps it is something we can troubleshoot for future readers.
I’m sorry. I made this recipe and wrote my comments 2 months ago. I have a baking business, so I bake lots of cakes. I do not remember the exact details only that it was very dry.
Stephie, do you think the cake will freeze well, before frosting? Thank you!
Can I ask please, is powered suger, icing suger, and would normal milk be ok to replace butter milk, I’m in the uk, Thankyou. Xx
Yes, I believe it would be icing sugar. And the buttermilk is actually fairly important for a variety of reasons — just add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before you add it to the cake. voila! You just created buttermilk! 🙂
Can I use natural peanut butter (just nuts)? What kind did you use?
I think you can certainly try it. I typically use a natural peanut butter that has a super smooth texture for this cake. Using the kind you get in the bulk section of a grocery store that is a little grainier might affect the texture of the cake and frosting, but I can’t say for certain.
Looks yummy, I love peanut butter but can I sub whole wheat flour for white. Have a great day, Judy
You can certainly try, but it will definitely change the texture of the cake. It won’t be as light and fluffy as it would be with all-purpose flour.