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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!

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!
Desserts

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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.

Frost Peanut Butter Cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting for a dessert perfect for any peanut butter lover.

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!

Batter for Peanut Butter Cake is easy to mix up and bake for a delicious peanut butter dessert.

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! 

Layers of Peanut Butter Cake are the perfect base for peanut butter cream cheese frosting.

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.

Peanut butter cream cheese frosting is a delicious addition to Peanut Butter Cake

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.

Peanut butter cream cheese frosting is a tangy and sweet addition to Peanut Butter Cake

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.

Peanut Butter Cake is a perfect birthday cake for any peanut butter lover.

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.

Peanut Butter Cake is covered in peanut butter cream cheese icing for a decadent and delicious cake.

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!

Layers of Peanut Butter Cake are frosted with peanut butter cream cheese frosting for a very peanut buttery dessert!

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.

Serve a slice of Peanut Butter Cake to anyone who loves peanut butter!
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!

Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

Yield: 1 double-layer 8 or 9-inch cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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!

Ingredients

For the peanut butter cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

Make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together peanut butter, butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed for 1 minute between each addition. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Slowly add all of the buttermilk. When the batter just starts to come together, add the remaining flour mixture, beating on low speed until the mixture just starts to come together. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula. (This will prevent you from over-mixing, thus keeping your cake from getting tough!)
  6. Divide batter between the prepared pans. If you're an uber-nerd (like me) and have a kitchen scale, you can use it to make sure they are of even weights. Bake for 30-45 minutes, rotating pans as needed halfway through to ensure even baking, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
  8. Cake will last, wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Make the frosting:

  1. Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for about 1 minute, ensuring that it is soft and pliable. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter. Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute until thoroughly combined.
  2. add 1/3 cup of the peanut butter to the bowl. Beat for 30 seconds on medium speed until well combined. With the mixer on low, add the salt and powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla. Once everything is almost incorporated, turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until all of the powdered sugar has disappeared and mixture is velvety soft, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. If using immediately, add in the last 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and fold in with a spatula, leaving streaks of peanut butter throughout. Use immediately to frost cakes or cupcakes.
  4. If storing for later use, spoon into an airtight container, add peanut butter, swirl into the frosting and store in the fridge until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before frosting cakes or cupcakes.
  5. Frosting will last, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1 slice
Amount Per ServingCalories 535Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 101mgSodium 462mgCarbohydrates 58gFiber 2gSugar 36gProtein 10g

52 Comments

  1. yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    1. 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!

  2. 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’.
    xo

    1. 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

  3. 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?
    Thank you

  4. This sounds sooo good. My grandson loves reeses peanut butter cups so I think I will put chocolate frosting on it. YUM

  5. 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.

      1. Same here. I should have read the reviews from people who made it not the ones leaving five stars because of a pretty picture.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

    1. 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! πŸ™‚

    1. 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.

  6. Looks yummy, I love peanut butter but can I sub whole wheat flour for white. Have a great day, Judy

    1. 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.

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