Every year I love making a birthday cake for Steven. Last year, I made a Guinness chocolate cake which was a huge hit! This year, I happened to get a copy of Joy the Baker’s book Homemade Decadence from Blogging for Books before his birthday. When Steven saw the cover of it, he immediately asked if he could have the cake that was on it. I, of course, agreed! Normally his cakes aren’t my taste preferences, because he loves chocolate cake and I tend to like lighter and fruity cakes. But this cake, y’all. I could eat it every day.
This cake looks like it could be an overload of richnesses, but it’s really the perfect balance of rich flavors. There is so much going on with this cake, from the pretzels on the outside, to the peanut butter frosting, and let’s not forget the chocolate cake.
The original recipe calls for pretzel bits on top, but Steven wanted to try putting toffee bits and I added some of the chocolate cake crumbs. It was the perfect decoration for the top of the cake, plus the perfect taste combo!
If you’re looking for a birthday cake recipe that will wow the guest of honor, this is definitely it! But don’t worry, this is not at all complicated to make! One note. This recipe calls for cake flour and usually, I just skip the fancy flour and use regular, but I definitely recommend using cake flour here! It makes the cake so fluffy and airy and it’s perfect!Print
Basic Three-Layer Chocolate Cake:
- 3 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 bag of toffee bits
- Mini pretzels
Salted Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting:
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups smooth all-natural peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 to 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and instant espresso, if using.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add half of the flour mixture, and beat until the flour mixture is incorporated. Add the buttermilk in a slow stream and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish stirring with a spatula. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans.
- Bake until golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.
- If you’re not frosting the cake right away, double-wrap in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Cake layers will stay freshest for up to 7 days in the freezer. When ready to frost, remove from the freezer, unwrap, and frost frozen!
For the frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until softened, about 1 minute. Add the peanut butter, salt, and vanilla extract and beat well. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until well combined. Add another 2 cups of sugar along with 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Add the remaining 2 to 3 cups of sugar and remaining cream and beat until it is your desired thickness. Beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Start with first cake layer and add a layer of frosting on the top. Repeat with second and third layer.
- Complete frosting on sides of cake. Sprinkle toffee bits and any cake crumbs on top of cake. Place mini pretzels along the edges of the cake (if not serving immediately, wait to put pretzels on until before serving so they don’t go stale).
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
What is your favorite kind of birthday cake?
Ps, if you have used Blogging for Books before, what book should I get next?!