Sometimes there are tumbleweeds between us and sometimes there is only a layer of clothing. Sometimes words can go unspoken for days and sometimes they erupt too soon, premature, when the wound is fresh and the words are full of piss and vinegar. I'm too fragile to be alone a lot of the times, too weak to ever admit it. I'm used to being alone, though. I'm resilient in that way. Behind books, in photos, I walk with my head down. I make my own dinner and leave the dishes in the sink. I don't think of other people when I make the food in our house. I make it for myself, for others far away. For the folk stories I've created. In the pseudo-mythology of suffering and redemption, built from sandcastles in the salt of the earth.
But this week, I made a cake for someone else. A cake I knew he'd like. A cake baked while he worked, he came home to the house smelling of it. I made it as a thank you for always cleaning the kitchen. A thank you for taking care of Murphy and Elsa when I was in Texas. I made it as a thank you for letting me pretend I could ever be alone and for thinking space is anything more than a place for stars.
Basic Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buttercream
Make this for someone you love, make it for when you have a craving for summer break days and dipping a spoon into a can of frosting and a jar of peanut butter and calling it lunch. Top it with flowers.
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3 2/3 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by buttering and fitting with parchment paper
- Preheat oven to 350*F
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugars, butter, peanut butter, and eggs together until smooth, pale, and fluffy
- In a separate large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda
- In a large measuring cup, combine milk and white vinegar
- Now, with mixer on medium-low, alternate in thirds between dry mixture and milk mixture until all combined.
- Pour in halves into prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out (due to the peanut butter's oil and sugar content, it may burn on the edges a little, so be mindful or put aluminum foil over cake in remaining ten minutes)
- Allow to cool before frosting with buttercream
For the buttercream: I used my go-to Wilton's recipe here, but substituted 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and substitute 2/3 of one of the cups of confectioner's sugar with cocoa powder.
To assemble: Allow cakes to cool completely. Put one cake on a plate, smother top with buttercream. Place second cake on top, smooth side down. Sift confectioner's sugar on top and add flowers, if you're feeling fancy.