I tried to make this beautiful cake…

remember that lovely chocolate peanut butter cake which is Smitten Kitchen’s most popular recipe?

Go here to look at her beautiful beautiful cake before reading further.

I mean really her cake makes me want to sing and eat and eat some more.  I love me some chocolate and peanut butter.  I also have hungry eyes..are you singing yet?

So I pulled the ingredients together over a month’s time buying what I could find or pay for week by week.

And I made the cake- the chocolate sour cream, peanut butter cream cheese, chocolate ganache-y cake.

At first it seemed to go well.  My brand new soft silicone  baking pans worked very well.  And all smelled well and looked well…

Good so Far

Good so Far


Third Layer's a Charm

Third Layer

A little bit of crumbly pieces but I thought I was ready for the crumb layer.  You know the thin layer of frosting that catches the crumbs and looks terrible but then you cover up with the real layer that looks lovely like Smitten Kitchen’s very own version.

But then the crumb layer didn’t come together.  I don’t know if the peanut butter frosting was too sticky or my cake was too warm or I wasn’t patient enough.  It was probably all three.  But instead of panicking or even getting ready to lose everything like Laura Brown from Michael Cunningham’s fantastic book, The Hours who contemplated suicide after making a not so beautiful cake, I just let it be.

Be.  Be what it was going to be. 

Be This...
Be This…

And here’s another view in case you missed it…

Isn't She Lovely?  No. Ha.
Houston, we have a problem.  It looks like I smeared the frosting on with a four year old boy with ADHD’s help.  But no, I used a knife.  And the above is what happened.
So I went ahead with it.  Time for the ganache.  Excited yet?
Which was a bit too runny or hot or whatever and went everywhere, even here…
After all my hard hard time consuming work I had to try some.  And then I decided I should hold some aside for my co-workers to try too.  So I cut off half the cake and put the now falling apart chunks into separate containers where they looked like something absolutely disgusting.
And then, not having spare room in my fridge or a nice cake holder I left the rest out on the counter.
Only to wake up to this the next morning…
And see the leaning tower of peanut butter.  I have titled that last one: Triumph of the Cake Over the Cook.
But, as crappy as this cake looks (and I do mean that literally) it was one of the most delicious things I have baked in at least five years.

7 Responses to “I tried to make this beautiful cake…”

  1. I am so happy you shared the real results of your hard work. Helps to know this kind of thing doesn’t just happen in my kitchen. It can be awfully frustrating to spend your money and your time and get your hopes up, and have it all fall apart. At LEAST, though, your cake still tasted good — and that’s the bottom line. Money and time not wasted. Similar experience recently when I was making a coffee custard for ice cream, my first go at an ice cream custard base. None of it went according to plan, but like you, I kept going anyway and the ice cream turned out to be quite good!

  2. Oh, that cake looks so good! I’ve made some cooking mistakes and messes in my time, but I don’t think any have turned out as delicious as you say your cake was.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love your progression of the downfall of the perfect cake. It does look delicious though!

  4. I had considered making this cake for my wonderful boyfriend’s birthday this month. He loves him some chocolate and peanut butter!
    But after seeing this valiant — and I must add, entertaining, attempt — I decided on a perhaps more labor intensive, but presumably foolproof recipe when it comes to achieving a finished look. (I plan to bring the cake to a party, so it won’t just be us seeing it.)
    I ultimately decided on another recipe by Ina Garten featured on Smitten Kitchen. It’s the chocolate chunk orange bundt cake. It’s sure to be a winner.
    And by the way, your cake was a winner, too, as long as it tasted delicious!

  5. Marissa Elana Says:

    Hand in there

  6. I don’t know if you are going to attempt this cake again, but incase you do here are a few tips. You mentioned that as you did the crumb layer maybe the cake was too warm – definitely wait till the cake is completely cool before frosting, stick it in the fridge if you need to cool it faster. This will prevent crumbling as all the oils and such that keep it together are now more solid. Maybe Debs recipe is more crumbly; I actually cheated and used a box cake mix which worked great. Make the crumb layer thin. Stick it in the fridge and let that get cool, then pull it out and frost the top frosting layer all pretty. Then stick it in the fridge again. A cold cake is the key to the ganache. Melt all the ingredients, take it off and wisk in the milk. I was worried about melting the cake too so I wisked it for a couple minutes to cool it down a little before pouring on the cake. Then stick it in the fridge again. Store it there. For this cake the fridge is our friend. Pull it out an hour or so before serving I think Deb said. I pulled it out 2-3 hours before and it did well. Hopefully this helps.

    I love your blog post. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. Good luck with attempt #2.

  7. I just discovered Smitten Kitchen yesterday, and got here from your post on Deb’s chocolate pb cake. Your cake story and pics are hilarious. I especially love your third paragraph, “Are you singing yet?” Kudos on your attempt. I’m going to try it now. I want to make it for a party Friday, so this is the test run.

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