Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake

Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
Thoughts that I remember occurring to me as a kid in a cafeteria: “I wonder if So and So would let me eat the cheese off of her pizza.” Gross. “My bangs are getting long, but are they too long?” Let them grow out. “I am emotionally uncomfortable around people, so I will playfully punch them on the arms when they get close to create some distance.” (<–paraphrasing) “Will Luke ever notice me?” NOPE!

As a 6-year-old, I used to hand my change purse to one of the cafeteria aids at the cashier, instead of counting out my money. One day, she told me I had to try. Sometimes, I wonder about a world in which she never did that. Thank you, whoever you are. Even though I don’t remember your face.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
I once mustered enough courage to say hello to Luke in the hallway. It was just the two of us, so there is no one in the world to confirm, but it totally happened. It has been decades, of course. I do still feel mildly embarrassed about that time my friends and I walked to his house and he wasn’t there. I wonder if his family laughs about the little, socially awkward girl who had-very obviously- a little, socially awkward crush on him growing up.

Sigh. Making history, I suppose.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
Every week when I was a kid, my grandmother would send us home with loaves of bread and peanut butter for sandwiches. I have not met another person who is quite so giving. I once told her I liked her shirt and she went and changed out of it. She refused to accept a reality in which I did not take it home that day.

I wear the rings she gave me as a kid nearly every day. My hands are much larger, so the rings rest on my knuckles and I will never care.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
I remember going to a friend’s house as a kid once and accepting a PBJ from my host. She put margarine on it, too. It was sacrilegious. I will never forget the way the distinctly yellow taste of the margarine introduced itself to the stuff that should’ve been sandwiched between those slices of bread.

Don’t mess with the original.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
Unless, of course, you’re turning it into coffee cake. Fluffy, moist peanut butter cake is swirled with jam and dolloped with cinnamon-scented peanut butter-oat crumbles.

Grace came over while it baked. We ate tacos and videotaped her fake sneezing and throwing her phone and we cackled. We broke the rules and we hardly waited ten minutes after the cake emerged from the oven before slicing and serving. In our defense, rule-breaking is acceptable when it can be loosely reinterpreted through the guise of Rumi’s wisdom:

Come, seek, for search is the foundation of fortune: every success depends upon focusing the heart.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake // Queen Smithereen.
Slicing into that freshly baked peanut butter cake with my best friend. Delicately balancing the warm, crumbly slice making its way to my polka dot plates. Watching her eyes roll back and her lids close at the first bite. Cutting myself a square of an unfamiliar formula for the familiar. One bite of that delicate, pillow-soft, peanut buttery, jam-swirled, crumble-speckled cake, and I think we understood the true meaning of treasure.

I don’t know, you do you. But maybe be like us in that moment (and in life).

One Year: Mozzarella Grilled Cheese with Harissa, Dates, and Scallions
Two Years: Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Three Years: Pecan Buttermilk Fudge
Four Years: Black Truffle White Cheddar Popcorn

Peanut Butter and Jelly Coffee Cake
Inspired by The Candid Appetite
Makes one 8x8x2 square cake

Crumble:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 heaping tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Coffee Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
heaping 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, 1 egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup full-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup strawberry or raspberry jam

Crumble:
In a small bowl, whisk flour, oats, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, peanut butter, and molasses until smooth. Beat in sugar until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Use fingers to rub in dry ingredients, followed by peanuts.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter and 8x8x2 pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, and molasses until smooth. Beat in sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by egg yolk. Beat in dry ingredients in halves, alternating with buttermilk. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Dollop with jam, then use a knife to gently swirl the jam into the cake (making sure not to overmix). Divid crumble evenly on top of batter, then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, with moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Cake will last up to two days, wrapped and at room temperature.

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