Last week, I did a deliciously naughty thing. I took a study break to do a bit of baking, which was actually not the naughtiness to which I refer - I'm an ardent proponent of taking study breaks for baking...
(especially when vintage FireKing baking pans are involved...)
No, the naughty part was making a really healthy cake... and then making it not so healthy by dressing it in layers of frosting.
You see, I started with the simple idea of a peanut butter cake, since peanut butter cookies are Zach's favorite. I tinkered a bit, and soon a lovely, vegan, whole wheat cake graced with applesauce, peanut butter, and banana emerged from the oven, rising even lighter and puffier than I could have hoped.
Then, the moment of peanut butter inspiration seized me... How could I have not yet told my blogger friends about our peanut butter frosting? You see, I am madly in love with using peanut butter to create a creamy, fluffy, vegan "buttercream" frosting...
"Well," I reasoned with myself, "using peanut butter instead of butter in the frosting does make it healthier..."
"and cocoa powder does have a nice dose of antioxidants..."
Soon, a chocolate-peanut butter vegan buttercream frosting had turned the humble peanut butter cake into a splendid layer cake.
"Hmmm," I thought to myself... "Wouldn't it be pretty to garnish the cake with a variety of nuts?"
"After all, nuts are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats..."
A mere moment later, a walnut and almond crumble danced merrily across the cake, and Zach arrived home that evening to find a glorious confection of nuts and chocolate awaiting him...
While all of my above nutrition statements are true, the one thing I truly can't justify is the plentiful quantity of powdered sugar in the frosting. That said, however, this cake is far healthier than most layer cakes... and, well, it's also healthy to indulge once in a while!
So go ahead! Bake a cake... Why not? It's a Wednesday! Zach and I are from Louisiana, where some days there are parades just because it's a Tuesday... so let's celebrate!
Vegan Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream and a Walnut-Almond Crumble
*For the Peanut Butter Cake*
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup raw sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
2 T light vanilla soymilk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
6 T potato starch
*For the Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream*
2 cups creamy peanut butter
Confectioners sugar "to taste"
Vanilla Soymilk, as needed (probably approx 2 T, depending on the moisture in the air)
Cocoa powder to taste
*For the Walnut-Almond Crumble*
1 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup ground almonds (I usually just pulse whole nuts in the food processor until they're ground - so much more economical than purchasing already ground nuts)
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
~ Let's start with the cake... Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and coat a 9X11" baking pan with cooking spray.
~ In the food processor, blend the applesauce, canola oil, and banana until nice and foamy.
~ Add the peanut butter, raw sugar, 1 cup whole wheat flour, salt, and vanilla soymilk to the food processor, and whir again until well combined.
~ Add the remaining 1 cup whole wheat flour, the all purpose flour, the baking soda, and the potato starch, and blend again in the food processor until you have a smooth batter.
~ Pour the batter into the cake pan, and bake for approx 40 minutes - until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
~ Let the cake cool in the pan (strange, I know), then, once it's cooled, flip the cake out of the pan, slice in half horizontally to make too layers, and you're ready for the frosting!
~ To make the frosting, beat the peanut butter with an electric mixer while adding confectioners sugar and little bits of vanilla soymilk (I add around a T of vanilla soymilk at a time while scooping in big spoonfuls of the confectioners sugar) until the desired thickness and fluffiness is achieved. The amounts of confectioners sugar and soymilk added can vary quite a bit depending on the brand of peanut butter you're using, how humid your geographical location can be, and your personal tastes in frosting. Once you've achieved the frosting texture you fancy, add cocoa powder to taste, depending on how much chocolateyness you desire. This is quite the personalized frosting! :-) After you've concocted the ideal frosting, spread it generously between the two layers of the cake, and across the top and sides of the cake.
~To make the crumble, fold together the nuts and all remaining ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle the crumble merrily across the top of the cake!
~ Your cake is complete at last!
*On a side note, I adored this cake, and its subtle, not-too-sweet peanut butter flavor, so much that I recently baked a second cake, unfrosted, for us to savor as a healthy sweet snack or light dessert... It freezes quite well, too, so we didn't have to worry about consuming an entire cake at once!