There are days when I just want to bake a really delicious cake without worrying too much about making it look glamourous. Like yesterday, for example. I want something with familiar flavours, something rustic, something rich that makes you close your eyes and go "mmm" with every bite. Of course, I want to satisfy my curiosity too by stepping outside of the realm of butter cake and quickbread. I was intrigued by the Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cake in BAKED Explorations.
The boys at BAKED promised a cake reminiscent of an oatmeal chocolate chips cookie. Oatmeal often finds its way to cookies but it's much more rare in cakes. I think it has to do with how much water it absorbs. Cake batter is typically very moist and I can imagine oatmeal wrecking havoc on the balance. This recipe stirs my interest because you begin by soaking oatmeal in hot water and butter before incorporating the porridge into cake batter. The oats retain all of its nutty flavour but only a hint of chew so the cake remains tender.
When I rummaged through my pantry, I found every type of chips except for dark chocolate chips. Since the chocolate chips act only as flavour accent in the original recipe, I decided to substitute them with my last bag of Reese's Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups for baking. I bought them at Hershey's Chocolate World in Pennsylvania and they've been discontinued since. Each piece is the size of my pinky fingernail but a perfect miniature of the classic candy. Now, I would imagine if you use half milk chocolate chips and half peanut butter chips, you can achieve comparable results. These baking pieces inspired me to top the cake with a cream cheese peanut butter frosting and roasted salted peanuts.
The nutty oatmeal and the rich milk chocolate peanut butter cake is delicious all on its own. However, with the tangy creamy frosting and hits of crunchy saltiness from the roasted peanuts, this cake is elevated from hearty breakfast to decadent dessert. A word of warning: this cake will not win any beauty contest. Despite my best effort to cut them nice and neat, the pieces can best be described as charming in a homemade way. Of course freezing can guarantee a much better presentation but that would totally defeats the purpose of an easy dessert that makes me go "mmm". If you have lots of time on your hands and want to go for a similarly flavoured showstopper, may I suggest this?
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from BAKED Explorations
makes one 9x13 cake
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cake
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 8 tbsp / 112g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cup / 310g boiling water
- 2 cups / 227g mini peanut butter cups or 1 cup / 112g milk chocolate chips + 1 cup / 112g peanut butter chips
- 1/2 tsp dark rum
- 1 1/2 cup / 195g + 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup / 150g granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup / 250g dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting
- 60g cream cheese, softened but still cool to touch
- 30g creamy peanut butter
- 70g unsalted butter, softened but still cool to touch
- 250g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Roasted and salted peanuts for garnish, about 1/2 cup
- In a medium bowl, stir together oats, butter, and boiling water. Let it sit for about 25-30 minutes until oats are plumped and barely warm.
- Preheat oven to 375C. Line a 9x13 cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, toss together peanut butter cups or chips with rum and 2 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
- In a large bowl (so many bowls!), stir together granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and eggs until moistened. Now go do something else until the oats are ready.
- Mix the baking powder and baking soda into the sugary egg batter. Stir in the oats until homogenous. Gently fold in the remaining flour until the last streaks of flour almost disappear and fold in the peanut butter cups.
- Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and level the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Set on cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature (or overnight).
- To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and butter at medium speed for handmixer or medium low speed for standmixer using the paddle attachment until creamy. Add in a quarter of the icing sugar at a time and continue beating until frosting is fluffy and light. Beat in vanilla extract.
- To assemble the cake, unmold cake from the pan and place on cutting board or serving platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting over the top of the cake until smooth. You can ignore the sides. I used a cake comb to create some decorative pattern but that's optional. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts and lightly press them to the frosting. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes before cutting.
- Cake can be covered and stored in fridge for two days. Let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.