My old fashioned peanut butter cake recipe is a classic cake perfect for peanut butter lovers and has peanut butter baked right into the batter and whipped into the frosting!
Peanut butter cake was one of the very first cake recipes I made from scratch. My first memory of making this cake was while we were newlyweds, but eating this cake came first… this was the bottom tier of our wedding cake (the middle tier was almond cake, the top tier key lime!) When I searched for a peanut butter cake recipe shortly after our wedding to try out, I came across an “award winning” peanut butter cake on PeanutButterLovers.com. It used shortening and didn’t have quite as much peanut butter as I wanted, but it seemed a good starting place. So I swapped butter for shortening, messed with maybe 1 more thing, and made the cake. Not only was it a hit, a friend requested it for a potluck party a few months later! Talk about a vote of confidence for this novice cake baker!
I kept using the recipe with my own little changes from time to time, until one day I went to look for it, and it was gone. The website had no record of this cake, and an internet search yielded plenty of peanut butter cake recipes, but not that recipe. It’s been years and I’m still a bit sad every time I think about it. Thankfully, I remembered the general gist of the recipe, and I’d become a far more confident “from scratch” cake baker, so I worked it out, and created my own based on the memory of that cake, to share with you. Never fear darlings, I don’t plan to take down this site anytime in the foreseeable future… I don’t think I could bear to see my “go to” peanut butter cake recipe disappear twice!
This is a very old fashioned cake recipe. I call it old fashioned because it is oh so slightly dry, but this is part of the charm. It’s not a chalky dry, don’t worry about that, it’s that old-school “cake they serve at the church bake sale that’s someone’s great great grandmother’s recipe” texture. I’ve found that Southern cake recipes are either really moist, or have the texture of this cake. It’s almost comforting. The cake texture works well because it pairs beautifully with the frosting, which is a masterpiece on its own.
I really really love this frosting actually. It’s a basic buttercream with just a few ingredients, but the balance between the butter, sugar, and peanut butter is so addicting! It’s also a very forgiving frosting for beginner bakers because it’s thick. This doesn’t spread super easily because of the peanut butter. It’s almost patched onto the cake, but it sets quickly so you can easily smooth out any lumps and bumps with a bit of wax paper and a fondant smoother, or a very smooth paper towel (Viva brand has a smooth finish on some of their towels).
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
- 1½ cups (320 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 stick (4 ounces, 113 g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup (135 g) smooth peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (99 g) oil (vegetable, canola, avocado, any neutral oil)
- 1½ cups (672 g) buttermilk
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 sticks (12 oz, 339 g) unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup (178 g) smooth peanut butter
- 5 cups (568 g) sifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C, gas mark 4). Butter and line two 8" round baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, and peanut butter in a mixing bowl on medium speed for about 1 minute until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add ⅓ to the peanut butter mixture, add half the buttermilk, another ⅓ of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, and the last bit of the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 35-45 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the center of the cake lightly springs back when touched.
- Allow the cakes to set in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In a clean mixing bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the vanilla extract. Stir in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping after each addition. The frosting is naturally rather thick, but if you need to thin it, add a little heavy cream.
- Decorate your cake and enjoy!