My birthday is a once a year occasion. Which is sad because the more birthdays I have, the more excuses I would have to bake a cake. The good news here is that I have friends. And all of those friends have birthdays. And the best part is that friends with birthdays challenge me to make cupcakes, cakes and other desserts that I wouldn’t normally make.
Like these cupcakes. Peanut butter & jelly cupcakes. I had used the combination in some gluten-free blondies last fall, and thought that was enough exploration of the classic combination. A peanut butter & jelly chocolate at the French Laundry made me certain that I could never live up to something that elevated a childhood classic.
But when my friend/coworker/fellow WordPress geek/the person responsible for my further downfall into nerdiness, Andi, asked for peanut butter and strawberry jelly cupcakes for her work birthday treat, I couldn’t refuse. In fact, I spent a couple of weeks thinking about how I would make it happen. Peanut butter filled vanilla cakes with strawberry frosting? Strawberry cakes with peanut butter frosting? The ways this could have gone… But, I remembered. Joy the Baker had a recipe for Peanut Butter Birthday Cake in her cookbook. And that Joy, she has never steered me wrong.
So, I made a gluten-free buttermilk peanut butter cake. I frosted them with a classic American buttercream augmented with some peanut butter. But the crowning jewel? More of Mammacake’s home made strawberry preserves. (I might have used a whole jar…)
These cupcakes also happened to be the first chance I had to use my new piping skills from the Wilton BlogHer workshop. I felt pretty accomplished piping buttercream flowers onto the tops of all of those cupcakes.
- for the cake
- 315 grams (2 1/4 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour*
- 1 gram (1 teaspoon) xanthan gum**
- 10 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
- 5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
- 3 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
- 205 grams (3/4 cup) smooth peanut butter
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons or 3/4 stick) butter, softened
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 110 grams (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (265 ml) buttermilk
- for the frosting
- 170 grams (1½ sticks) butter, softened
- 65-130 grams (1/4-½ cup) smooth peanut butter
- 675-900 grams (6-8 cups) confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup (118 mls) milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 pint jar of your favorite jam or preserves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C). Position one rack in the center and one in the top third of the oven. Line a cupcake tin with papers and grease the tops (just in case)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter, butter, sugar and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. You want the mixture to be light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute on medium and scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition.
- Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed and slowly add the buttermilk.
- Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the flour mixture until the batter just starts to come together. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish stirring with a spatula.
- Use a spring loaded ice cream scoop or spoon to fill the cupcake papers 1/2-2/3 full.
- Place one cupcake tin on each rack and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans and bake for another 8-12 minutes. You want a toothpick to come out clean and the top of the cakes to bounce back if pressed.
- Cool completely on a cooling rack.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, 65 grams (1/4 cup) of the peanut butter, 450 grams (4 cups) of the sugar, the milk and the vanilla.
- Beat on medium for 3-5 minutes.
- Gradually add the remaining sugar 1 cup (115 grams) at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition.
- When the frosting is firm enough to pipe, stop adding sugar and add the salt. If the frosting is too firm or not peanut butter-y enough you can add more peanut butter. I used 1/4 cup and nearly the full amount of powdered sugar. Your results will depend on the humidity, the type of peanut butter and how soft your butter was.
- Remove the centers of the cupcakes with a cupcake corer or a paring knife, being sure to leave a little cake at the bottom of your well.
- Pipe in the jam or preserves until the well is almost full. Replace the tops of your holes (you will toss some cake, just save the part that is the very top of the removed cake) to keep the jam from making the frosting mushy.
- Pipe your frosting on your cupcakes. I made rosettes because I don’t think these need that much frosting, but you will have enough frosting to do a normal swirl if you would like.
- Sprinkle with decorative sugar, if you feel like it. I used pink to represent the strawberry jam inside.