its easter friday and i’m taking advantage of the public holiday to enter the yuppiechef easter bake-off competition. i have been deliberating all week and today is D day.
i decided to bake the layered peanut butter cake. my husband loves peanut butter so it was an easy choice for me.
the morning started off on a not-so-great foot. the task of pulling out three 20cm cake pans from the cupboard turned into a frantic search which culminated in a vague recollection of having handed over shortbread in said cake pans to a neighbour a few weeks ago. fortunately the situation was rectified within half an hour which gave me chance to eat the bacon and egg fry up that the hubby had thrown together while i was having a melt-down.
after preheating the oven and pulling out all the ingredients i needed i got cracking…literally. 6 eggs and 450g of sugar were handed over to my baking assistant lola.
the mixture was mixed until light and fluffy. ideally you are looking for this sort of appearance.
you want the eggs and sugar to be well incorporated. you are trying to dissolve the sugar which results in a lighter sponge.
the dry ingredients and wet ingredients were prepared and mixed into the egg/sugar mixture. the resulting batter was split between the three 20cm cake pans.
i never manage to pull off a completely even split but get it as close as you can.
when baking your nose is very important. recommended cooking times are dependent on specific ovens and altitude. they are a guide but you need to pay attention. after you’ve baked a few times you’ll know how to adjust your cooking time to suit your location and oven. you will smell when the cake is ready. once your kitchen fills with the distinct aroma of baked goods you know you are getting close to a properly baked cake. i baked the cakes for 22 minutes. i was naughty. i put all three in at once. as a result the cakes were exposed to different conditions in the oven. the one in the middle was fine. the one on the left rose unevenly (probably from being placed over the element) and the one on the right needed an extra 5 minutes baking time.
because the cakes will be layered we can level them before assembly.
another thing to look for when figuring out if the cake is done is that the sponge will come away from the sides of the cake pan slighty.
the cakes were left to cool while i got busy with the icing.
a good cooling wrack is worth the money you will spend on it. especially when you’re icing cakes. you need the cake to cool though to the middle since any residual heat will wreak havoc on your icing. it’s difficult to achieve complete cooling quickly with the bottom surface not in contact with air. trying to layer cake on slippery melting icing is a highly frustrating exercise that will put you off icing and taking the time for nice presentation for many many months. you have been warned.
the preparation of the topping was straightforward though i think next time i will try making my own caramel. today i didn’t feel confident that i knew enough to get the correct consistency. the caramel i made for the millionaire’s shortbread would be too soft for cake application. will have to play more.
i popped out for lunch while the cakes cooled. i’d told my friends to come over after lunch for dessert at our place. i was not disillusioned as to how sweet and rich this cake was going to be. i knew i was going to need some help to polish it off.
i levelled off the cakes and laid everything out so that it was all at hand. i crushed the peanut brittle into chunks.
my friends hung around during the assembly to double check that the caramel and icing were up to standard and tried out the bits of cake that i had cut-off during levelling.
the recipe said to layer the icing over the caramel. i usually leave icing in the fridge until i need it. especially when its a warm day. this was not a good idea today. the firmer icing did not co-operate and some work was required to get a nice even layer over the caramel. i sprinkled the peanut brittle over each layer.
the final product looked like this.
its was promptly distributed to the eager group of people standing around the table. it was too sweet for my personal taste but everyone else liked it. i know cos i had to prepare take away packages.
lessons learnt: bake the cakes one at time so that the cakes all rise evenly. make my own caramel.
a note about the title of this post. once i had realised my cake pans were in fact not at hand my lovely husband turns to me and says, “well you know if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” he’s a helpful guy this husband of mine.