Sunday, August 19, 2012

Random Cookbook of the Week - Peanut Butter Cake from Old-Fashioned Desserts

I decided to change my old 52 Cookbooks series to Random Cookbook of the Week--that way I get to drop the books I know don't work very well and keep the series going indefinitely.

I've got a list of 30 cookbooks and food blogs, which I'll add to as I find new books/blogs. Each week I'm going to draw one from and cook from it unless it's utterly the wrong time of year. I'm not baking in a heat wave, since my kitchen has no AC; nor am I firing up the grill if my deck is standing in six inches of snow or being lashed by one of the November rainy windstorms that make late autumn in Seattle so delightful. But other than that, I cook from the randomly selected book, and make a recipe I've never tried before.

This week I drew Betty Crocker's Old-Fashioned Desserts, a 1992 cookbook I picked up from the bargain table at Border's in Philadelphia at some point in the early to mid '90s.  I've taken it with me on all my moves and often thought how lovely the illustrations are and how tasty the recipes sound, but never got around to cooking from it.  Today that changed when I made...

Peanut Butter Cake

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. milk
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 c. peanut butter chips
1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 9 x 1 1/2 inch round pan or 8 x 8 x 2 square pan. Beat all ingredients except chips on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with chips.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; cool.

This is about as simple as a cake made from scratch* gets.  It's not very sweet, though that depends to some degree on the peanut butter, I'm sure--I used Adam's No-Stir, which has no added sugar. But at least as I made it, it's more of a breakfast bread or coffee cake than a standard dessert cake.  I wasn't blown away by it, but it's so straightforward I'd happily make it again, especially for one of our midweek work potlucks.

*My mom liked to tell the tale of how when I was 4 years old or so, she took me grocery shopping and I eagerly pointed out a cake mix box that showed yellow cake with chocolate icing, my favorite childhood dessert. 

She said, "I don't use a mix. I bake my cake from scratch."

"Well, where's the scratch?" I replied, to the amusement of everyone shopping that aisle.


  1. LOL--Oh, the things kids say, right? If nothing else, we can all be cute as a kid--some people grow out of that, but many of us retain much of our childhood glee. I sense a spark of yours still in you, too!

    This cake sounds like it would be good--and easy! I've never been a huge cake fan, even as a kid, but perhaps something like this, that's not very sweet or overly done, may just hit the spot--thanks for sharing!

    TBQ's Book Palace

  2. So far the best story I can tell on my own daughter, age 8, is about how when she was 5 or so she was under the impression Mommy knew so much about history--everything from how dogs were probably domesticated to tall sailing ships--because I'd actually been around to WITNESS said events. Um. Not quite that old, kiddo.

    I'm with you on not liking cakes too sweet--and I find the kind made from scratch are generally less sweet and more flavorful than mix cakes or all but the very best bakery ones.