This cake is made in honour of the second birthday of a little friend of mine. His mum and dad love The Princess Bride so much that one of his names is that of a character in the film. No, not Buttercup. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of the PB, the one time people tried to get me to watch it I fell asleep and everyone was quite cross. (I fall asleep all the time when watching films, people shouldn’t take it personally. I just get tired.) Anyway, I decided that I’d make a themed cake for my little friend, and I did some googling of “Princess Bride” and “Food” and there’s a joke about peanuts, and another about mutton and tomatoes. My themed choices were limited.
I did a spot of googling and came up with some very weird American PB cake recipes and then I came across one from a NZ website called Food To Love (www.foodtolove.co.nz) which I have just this minute realised is run by the media company that shut its doors last week, putting hundreds of NZers out of work. Bad times. I can’t stress enough how we need to support our creative industries in these times.
I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it calls for smooth peanut butter and smooth peanut butter is yuck. Crunchy all the way. Secondly, it suggests a white chocolate peanut butter ganache which is just damn weird – white choc and peanut butter is not a delicious combination and white chocolate is too sweet in my opinion. Thirdly, there was a mystery ingredient – below the 225g of flour was listed 75g of… something. I don’t know what, they never filled the rest of the line in! Since by this time I’d already added all of the base ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, flour, raising agent), I figured it couldn’t be anything too important and since the text suggested it was something else “dry”, I just chucked in some old ground almonds loitering at the back of the cupboard. Oh, and fourthly, I didn’t have a square cake tin so its round. Who cares?
Another easy recipe, into the oven it went, I had a nap and ran a small delivery errand to some neighbours who need help at the moment, then out of the oven it came and it got iced a while later. Icing was also super easy – chop some chocolate, add in some PB, heat cream, stir, slather.
A note about the ingredients. New Zealanders are getting quite fussy about peanut butter. Everyone has their favourite small manufacturer. In this house, we eat Bay Road Peanut Butter. It is made in Dunedin, in small batches, from Australian peanuts (they don’t grow in NZ). It is sold in lovely glass jars and when you return them to Bay Road’s stall at the Farmers’ Market, or to their cafe and store, you get $2 off your next jar. You can also return jars at lots of the stores where its sold. Delicious, local, sustainable. http://www.bayroad.nz They’re the best.
Chocolate is also important to get right. In this city there was a Cadbury factory for over a hundred years. We all have memories of school trips around the factory, and the guides pulling warm moro bars off the conveyor belt for us, and loading us up with bags of chocolates when we left. Everyone knew someone who worked at Cadbury and had the crucial hook up to the staff shop, where they could get 5kg bags of stuff for cheap. Long story short, globalisation, private equity, cost cutting, Cadbury closed down. We don’t eat that stuff any more. We are a Whittakers household for everyday chocolate needs now. Whittakers is a NZ brand, which just got bigger and bigger as Cadbury got less delicious and more devious. Whittakers Creamy Milk has got me through many a long day, and the 72% Dark Ghana is the perfect cooking chocolate.
This cake is good. Dark and intensely chocolatey, but not dense. The peanut butter could possibly be increased for a more nutty flavour. If you are going to make the dark chocolate ganache like I did and you don’t like bitter chocolate, add sugar – I forgot that the recipe called for white chocolate instead, and that’s always super sweet. I wasn’t using “children’s cakes” as a search engine term when I looked for this, notwithstanding my 2year old birthday-having friend, and I’m not sure little kids would like this – it might be too chocolatey, although then again, kids like all sorts of things if they’re just given a chance.
Does it have anything to do with the Princess Bride? Well, no. I suppose I should have made it buttercup shaped instead.
- Deliciousness : This is a good cake. I think it needs more peanut butter though, to be really interesting.
- Recipe complexity: The website made one of the ingredients a complete mystery, but other than that it wasn’t too difficult. Most people could make this without difficulty.
- Availability/price of ingredients: No big issues here. If you’re making the cake without the ganache you don’t even need to buy chocolate – just use cocoa. I recommend good quality peanut butter.
- Similarity of final cake to picture/description:I didn’t decorate it with cut up peanut butter filled chocolate and I didn’t make white ganache, nor did I make a square cake, so this category doesn’t really count.
- Would I bake it again? If someone asked for a peanut butter cake, sure.
A B-plus cake, for an A-plus little guy. Happy Birthday, Mr R! I love you and your family.