The problem I face when Molly and I bake birthday cakes for each other is that we both trust each other to make a good cake decision, so we don't give each other a flavor. We might suggest somethings, and chocolate is always good... But for the most part, it's fair game. Talk about stress. But I am starting to think I shouldn't stress because this was one of the best cakes I've ever eaten in my life.
That is saying something.
But this is truuuly one of the best. It is one of the few baked goods that turn out where literally every part of it is good. For instance, in these Lemon Pistachio Whoopie Pies, the pistachio ice cream was way better than the cookie part. Or, with this Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake, the pumpkin cheesecake stole the show and the actual cake part was diminished by the greatness of the cheesecake.
There is no show-stealing in this cake. Each constituent part is as wonderful as the other, and they all combine together in a way that I'm sure even the best Broadway play cast would be jealous of.
So, to break it down for you, this cake is made Momofuku-style, using adaptations of some of their recipes, plus a little improvisation. (This also doesn't have to be assembled Momofuku style, you can have it be a basic layer cake as well).
Pretzel Cake (phenom)
Guinness Ganache (whoa)
Peanut Butter Crumb (mind-blowing)
Joy the Bakers Best Chocolate Buttercream (Come on, we know it's great.)
The peanut butter crumb is Momofuku Milk Bar's chocolate crumb, but with this AMAZING thing called PB2. It's powdered peanut butter (they sucked the fat out of the peanuts and ground them up, and you can make peanut butter by adding water), so basically it works like cocoa powder in baking... but it's peanut butter flavor. The crumb alone is reason enough to make this cake.
I honestly see no excuse not to make this cake immediately. Who even needs an occasion. It will change your life. I basically won't consider your opinion at all if you haven't tried pretzel cake, because you don't have enough life experience.
Pretzel Guinness Peanut Butter Cake
Make all the constituent parts, then assemble by either cutting the sheet pan into six inch circles (one of the layers will have to have some mushed up cake) and layering the parts as desired. Alternatively, just bake the cake into 8 inch rounds and put the filings in the middle. Frosting side if desired, and freeze when done.
makes 1 9x13 sheet pan
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups pretzels, ground down into a powder
1. heat the oven to 350°f.
2. combine the butter, molasses, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, and oil. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. don’t rush the process. you’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for that liquid. there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. on very low speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the ground down pretzels. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan.
6. bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.
7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer.
• 5 oz semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate, chopped finely
• 3 tablespoons heavy cream
• 5 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Guinness
• Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil on stovetop and pour over chocolate, whisking vigorously until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. If it is not completely smooth at this point, don’t worry, just proceed to the next step.
• Bring Guinness to a boil in the same small saucepan. Pour over chocolate mixture and whisk until completely smooth.
• Let cool to room temperature, and if it is still too runny, place it in the refrigerator. Check on it at 5 minute intervals, whisking to check consistency. Sounds silly but once it gets too cold, all you can do is wait for it to warm up.
• I have found that the best consistency to apply a ganache to a cake is when it will slowly run off your whisk.
Peanut Butter Crumb
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup PB2
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbs. butter, melted
- Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, PB2, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter and mix on low until small clusters begin to form.
- Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking up the pieces as needed. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch, they will harden as they cool.
- Allow the crumbs to cool completely before using (or eating!) Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, or up to 1 month in the fridge.
Joy's Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine
Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.