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How to make the best peanut butter cake ever!

Updated on May 25, 2014

Peanut butter cake sure to please any lover of peanut butter.

It's just the right balance of peanutty sweetness without being gooey or sticky. This delicious peanut butter cake can be made according to the recipe or wheat free/gluten free. My mother-in-law has been making it for over 45 years for my father-in-law's birthday and she passed the recipe along to me. I've now started baking it for my husband, with yummy results.

Since I have a wheat allergy, I figured out a way to modify the recipe to be made for our whole family to enjoy. It tasted amazing, so I've included both versions....just pick which one suits you best!

This cake isn't a pretty one, so don't expect it to be a showpiece. What it lacks in appearance, though, it makes up for in taste.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: 8-10, depending on how thin you slice the cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups sifted cake flour (regular sifted flour can be substituted)
  • 1 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable shortening (common brand name is Crisco)
  • 1/3 Cup creamy peanut butter (like JIF or Skippy) OR fresh-ground natural peanut butter with a fairly thick consistency (don't use jarred natural peanut butter that separates. )
  • 1 Cup milk - divided
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup eggs

Instructions

  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 round 8-inch cake pans. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add 2/3 Cup of the milk. Mix together on the slow-medium setting of your mixer for 2 minutes, scraping the sides frequently. Add the shortening, peanut butter, remaining milk and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour evenly into the 2 cake pans, then bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool thoroughly before icing the cake with the Peanut Butter Icing. (see recipe further down the page)
Cast your vote for Peanut Butter Cake - Original Recipe

Enjoying Peanut Butter Cake - My daughter loves this cake too. It's a dense, heavier cake, so you may want to go smaller on the slices. I personally like to e

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: 8-10, depending how you slice the cake

Peanut Butter Cake - Wheat Free/Gluten Free Version - Here's how I modified the peanut butter cake recipe to make it work for someone who eats wheat-free/gluten

  • 2 Cups plus 1 tablespoon Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
  • 1 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable shortening (common brand name is Crisco)
  • 1/3 Cup creamy peanut butter (don't use natural peanut butter that separates. My personal favorite for this recipe is JIF )
  • 1 Cup milk - divided
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup eggs

Instructions

  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (use rice flour or more Pamela's mix) 2 round 8-inch cake pans. Stir together Pamela's mix, sugar and salt. Then add 2/3 Cup of the milk. Mix together on the slow-medium setting of your mixer for 2 minutes, scraping the sides frequently. Add the shortening, peanut butter, remaining milk and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour evenly into the 2 cake pans, then bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool thoroughly before icing the cake with the Peanut Butter Icing. (see recipe further down the page)

Additional Tip:

If you'd like the cake to have 4 layers, just use a serrated knife to cut each round cake in half lengthwise. The peanut butter icing recipe makes enough to put between 4 layers as long as you don't spread it on too thick. The cake is also great with just two layers, but there's a lot of extra icing....not necessarily a bad thing.

This Peanut Butter Cake Goes Fast! - I sliced one layer in half to make a 3-layer cake for my husband's birthday last year. It got devoured pretty quickly.

sliced peanut butter cake
sliced peanut butter cake

The frosting on this one is an example where I didn't spread it quickly enough, and I didn't add enough vegetable oil to keep it smooth. The taste is still fantastic, but the texture wasn't spreadable enough.

peanut butter cake icing
peanut butter cake icing

Peanut Butter Icing - My Mother-in-Law's Own Recipe - You just have to use this icing for the peanut butter cake; it makes for a truly heavenly peanut butter ex

It can turn out differently each time in terms of consistency, but the taste is still the same. If you have to err on the side of too thick or too runny, always go for a bit too runny. It sets up quickly.

I'm not kidding.

In this photo, the icing was really runny, but it was one of the first times I tried doing the cake. Still tasted fantastic.

Cook Time

Total Time: approx. 40 min

Serves: Ices one four-layer peanut butter cake, or a 2-layer cake with extra icing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter (the smooth kind - not natural separated peanut butter. I use JIF.)
  • small amount of vegetable oil if necessary

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, boil sugars and milk until they form a soft ball in cold water (235 to 245 degrees Farenheit). ***If you have not made a candy icing before, see the Candy Icing Tips section of this site.
  2. Add the butter. Cool the mixture for 15 min. When you are ready to ice the cakes, pour the sugar/milk/butter mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the peanut butter 1/4 Cup at a time, beating at medium-high speed after each addition to blend. You have to just eyeball it to see if it's a good consistency. If you need to thin the icing out a bit, just use a little bit of vegetable oil, added sparingly. Even if you don't add any vegetable oil, the icing may still be thin enough to slowly flow down the sides of the cake. That's ok.
  3. Ice the cake immediately. The icing sets quickly, so time is of the essence.

Candy Icing Tips

Please read if you have never made candy or candy icing before.

The easiest way to test the temperature of sugar syrup is with a candy thermometer. While not quite as accurate, you can also use a digital meat thermometer secured to the side of your saucepan with a metal clip so that it rests in the sugar mixture and doesn't touch the bottom of the pan.

If you don't have a thermometer, here's a handy how-to guide:

How to Test the Temperature of Sugar Syrup by Elizabeth LaBau, About.com

If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch!

A quick word of caution: Please be careful when working with hot sugar, especially if you decide to use the cold-water method of temperature testing. Sugar burns are nasty. Hot sugar is almost impossible to quick rub or rinse off the skin, and thus continues burning long after it comes into contact with your skin. Please don't allow yourself to be sloppy or distracted when working with hot sugar, and avoid dangling hair, jewelry, or clothing over the work area.

photo credit (used via Creative Commons license): http://www.flickr.com/photos/vegan-baking/4107689532/

My husband's 2013 peanut butter birthday cake

My husband's 2013 peanut butter birthday cake
My husband's 2013 peanut butter birthday cake

More of The Story Behind this Recipe

My mother-in-law Virginia (shown here on her birthday with a shot glass of cake -- at one of my favorite restaurants, Seasons 52) found the peanut butter cake recipe in the recipe book that came with her (now vintage) Dormeyer mixer in the early 1960s and baked it for her husband's birthday. Since he loved peanut butter, she modified a caramel icing recipe to make a peanut butter icing to adorn the cake. The results were delectable, and my father-in-law Sam requested the cake each year for his birthday.

One year while Virginia was making the icing for Sam's birthday peanut butter cake, her son Len (my now husband) called to tell his parents that he was engaged. Virginia, focusing hard on the tricky icing, asked her son if he was joking and asked him why he was trying to ruin her cake. Len is a big prankster, so this wasn't as harsh as it sounds, and years later, we're still laughing at it.

Virginia isn't just a good cook, she's an incredible mother-in-law, and I'm so glad that she's in my life. After losing her husband and surviving breast cancer, she still has a positive attitude and an abiding faith in the Lord. She's an inspiration to me.

KitchenAid Stand Mixers - An awesome tool for creating baked goods and so much more.

What do you think? - So are you going to bake the cake? If you have already, tell me about it. Any other great cake recipes or feedback that you want to share

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    • Ilona1 profile image

      Ilona 3 years ago from Ohio

      That sounds like a delicious cake my family would LOVE!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Never tried making a peanut butter cake, but sure will now, you made me feel hungry just looking at your cake, I can taste it in my mouth before I even cook one.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Looks delicious,BunnyFabulous! I love peanut butter so I'll definitely be trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image
      Author

      BunnyFabulous 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @ecogranny: Glad you mentioned the fresh ground natural peanut butter. I'm going to update the lens to include it as an option. We actually just started grinding our own and I have tried it in the cake with good results. It just has to be on the thick side and not separated. Before grinding our own, my only experiences with natural peanut butter were the jarred ones that had lots of separation, which doesn't work well with this cake.

      Have fun trying the peanut butter cake. It's delicious. Now I'm hungry. ;) I really appreciate your kind words as well. Cheers!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      We love peanut butter, and I've never heard of peanut butter cake (though we do enjoy peanut butter pie), but I'm so disappointed that real peanut butter won't work. We grind our own, so it's super fresh. I'm thinking I might just give it a try anyway, because the fresh ground is intact and not separated. Perhaps I'll start by making the icing for my next one-bowl whole wheat cake. Then if that goes okay, I can try the cake too.

      Thanks for sharing your mother-in-law's recipe. I especially enjoyed the stories. Your love for your family comes through beautifully.

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 4 years ago from Virginia

      Sound SO good! It's on our Tumblr page too!

      http://whats-cooking-at-squidoo.tumblr.com/

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I like peanut butter. But I have yet to taste it in cake! (Looks delectable!)

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 5 years ago

      This looks like something I have to try! I'm not great at baking but I'll certainly give it a go!

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 5 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Never had, but I love peanut butter! Looks delicious!

    • LPerry60 profile image

      LPerry60 5 years ago from East Coast United States

      What a delicious-looking and tempting recipe this is! Your mother-in-law is a very lovely and inspiring lady. I really loved reading this lens. Any excuse to eat more peanut butter is right up my alley :)

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 5 years ago

      I would love to try this. Looks really delicious.

    • FatLossDiva profile image

      FatLossDiva 5 years ago

      This looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. I'll be making it for sure. Thanks!

    • kitchenalia profile image

      Nathan 5 years ago from Ontario Canada

      I am a huge peanut butter fan in baking. I am going to try this cake. Thanks for the lens.

    • Kae Yo profile image

      Kae Yo 5 years ago

      I love peanut butter. I love cake! What a great combination! Thank you for sharing!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      This looks great. Nice to see the gluten-free option. I myself can consume gluten without issues but I like to have a selection of ideas for when I'm entertaining.

    • Escapes2 profile image

      Escapes2 5 years ago

      This is a must make cake. I love all things peanut butter!

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Looks yummy

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 6 years ago

      Looks delicious.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 6 years ago

      This sounds like something I must try! I wonder how it would work to use peanut flour (roasted peanuts ground in the blender) instead of the GF baking mix?

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      Looks and sounds good to me.

    • gypsykitschpres profile image

      gypsykitschpres 6 years ago

      This looks completely yummy. Thanks for a great lens.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Your mother in law sounds like a real lovely person

    • SquidooMBA profile image

      SquidooMBA 6 years ago

      Just wanted to stop by and give you a "High Five" for this delicious lens. Great job!

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 6 years ago

      One way to enjoy peanut butter.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Swimming past again to bless this very tasty looking cake recipe. :)

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 6 years ago

      This looks amazing! I've never had peanut butter cake... but hey, I like cake, and I like peanut butter! I'm delighted to see the gluten-free option here, too. A close friend of mine avoids gluten. She'll be *thrilled* to be able to join us for cake!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      Oh, my! This sounds heavenly!

    • profile image

      catwell2 6 years ago

      Looks delicious! Can't wait to try it

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 6 years ago from Kansas

      Wow! I've never heard of peanut butter cake. I have a house full of peanut butter lovers, so I will definitely try this cake! Blessed!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Oh my goodness, this sounds so amazing. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      MintySea 6 years ago

      sounds good

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 6 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Peanut butter cake is one of my favorites. My mom made it for as long as I can remember. She's gone now, so my husband made one for my last birthday. I love that man!

    • profile image

      BlondeBomber 6 years ago

      emphatically YES! As a peanut butter fanatic and cake enthusiast, I say YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This is the first time I've heard of this cake...but oh boy! I can't wait to spring it on my family (all peanut butter lovers) so I'm bookmarking this page. Thank you so much for a great recipe!

    • anticloud profile image

      anticloud 6 years ago

      That looks pretty tasty. I might have to give it a try at some point.

    • AlexandraHubbard profile image

      AlexandraHubbard 6 years ago

      Yes, yes I will. This looks positively scrumptious!

    • AsianMarketplace profile image

      AsianMarketplace 6 years ago

      yum yum!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      Sounds delicious, and I am definitely going to try making it!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done; I can appreciate that it doesn't have to look good to be delicious.

    • fantasticallyfi profile image

      fantasticallyfi 7 years ago

      It looks amazing - I'm addicted to the stuff!

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 7 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      I love anything Peanut Butter!! Good lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I am so going to have to try this peanut butter cake recipe, I love peanut butter in baking.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image
      Author

      BunnyFabulous 7 years ago from Central Florida

      @tiff0315: It may be a bit more work than a crock pot one, but I think it's worth the effort. I love crock pot recipes in general. Nice to set it and forget it. :)

    • tiff0315 profile image

      tiff0315 7 years ago

      Looks great! I tried a crock-pot peanut butter cake once. It tasted good, but definitely didn't look as good as your!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 7 years ago from California

      If it was dairy free, I'd be all over it. I love peanut butter. I have never heard of a peanut butter cake before. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Dustbunnyodoom profile image

      Dustbunnyodoom 7 years ago

      I LOVE peanut butter, seriously I would marry it if I could. This cake looks so good, and I can't wait to try it!

    • DawnMathisenakaC profile image

      DawnMathisenakaC 7 years ago

      Yummy! I have got to try this one! I just love Peanut Butter. This is a great gluten free alternative shared here too. Well done lens and looking forward to enjoying one myself. Thanks to you and your mother-in-law for sharing it so everyone can enjoy!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image
      Author

      BunnyFabulous 7 years ago from Central Florida

      @ZenandChic: I personally love eating this cake as a lover of cake as well as peanut butter. I think it captures the flavor profile of peanut butter, but it definitely tastes like a cake with icing rather than a big glob of peanut butter. Hope that makes sense and answers your question...let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know about the cake.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Is this good? It sounds very peanut buttery.

    • MyCrazyAdventures profile image

      Melissa 7 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      It's on my "to do" list. Peanut butter kept me fed all during college and some lean years. You would think I would never want to see it again but I love it!

    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 8 years ago

      Thank-you for this awesome recipe. Fantastic lens. 5 stars*****

    • SquidooMBA profile image

      SquidooMBA 8 years ago

      My wife recently made this for me for my birthday. It was fabulous! I am hoping it becomes a regular favorite for our desserts...

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      I'm going to have to try this. My son-in-law loves peanut butter pie and I'll bet he'll like this even better! Lovely.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Sounds great! I love peanut butter.

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