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Peanut Butter: Poundcake, Pinwheels and Cupcakes
Recently I've been craving peanut butter. Its irresistible aroma, flavor and texture and its almost universal ability to evoke memories of childhood happiness and comfort are what keep drawing me back to this simple spread.
I used to prefer to stick (no pun intended) to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or sneaking spoonfuls directly from the jar, and believed I had no interest in consuming this nutritious treat in any other form. But after experimenting with peanut butter recipes, I see how versatile it really is for baking. Neither a peanut butter cake nor peanut butter cookies sacrifices any of that delightful nutty flavor in baking and they both take little more time than it does to prepare a couple of sandwiches.
Peanut Butter Pound Cake, one of the simplest recipes you will ever see, is a plain loaf that is great with a banana pineapple compote or ice cream. The technique for slicing the Peanut Butter Pinwheel dough calls for string, and though a bit out of the ordinary, not complicated. These two recipes would be a perfect introduction to baking for even the youngest children, since they, and you, will be sure to love the process as well as the results.
Peanut Butter Pound Cake
If you're not already addicted to peanut butter, one bite of this cake will do it. Before you start to bake, have all ingredients at room temperature.
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
5 large eggs
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
Adjust rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl using an electic mixer, cream the butter until light, add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add peanut butter and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the flour in two additions, mixing until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 65 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Slice thinly.
Peanut Butter Pinwheels
makes 5 dozen
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon each salt and baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chunk-style peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together. Cream the shortening until soft. Add the sugar and continue creaming until mixture is smooth. Blend in thoroughly the peanut butter, egg, milk, and flour mixture. Chill dough just until firm enough to handle, about 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate over very warm water. When chocolate is melted, stir in the butter. (The chocolate will thicken slightly.)
Divide dough in half. Roll each portion between two pieces of plastic wrap into an 8-inch square about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the piece of plastic on top. Spread the cool chocolate over both squares and roll up each one, jelly-roll fashion. (The plastic helps lift the dough in order to roll it.) Wrap the rolls in the plastic and chill the dough only 30 minutes.
Adjust rack to lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Cut rolls close to 1/8-inch thick slices, and place 1 1/2-inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. To make the slicing easier and uniform, mark roll lightly with a knife at intervals. Slip a 12-inch long piece of thread or thin string beneath the roll and, at each mark, draw ends of string together above the roll. Cross the string ends and pull quickly and tightly through the dough. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
These cupcakes are doubly delicious when frosted with a chocolate-peanut butter icing or simply with a favorite jelly. Before you start to bake, have all ingredients at room temperature.
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Adjust rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Place muffin paper liners in two dozen 2 1/2-inch muffin cups. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer at low speed, beat until blended. Increase the speed and beat the mixture two minutes more or until smooth and well blended. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Icing: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat 4 tablespoons soft butter, 2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate, 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 1 package (16 ounces) powdered sugar until smooth and thoroughly blended. Add more milk if necessary until icing is spreading consistency.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.