Birthdays have always been important to me, and I'm not just saying that because my own is coming up this week. They're the perfect reason for celebration, and full of so much pure joy to me.
I've spent quite a few birthdays away from the places I call home, so last month, when a coworker of mine was celebrating his birthday I decided to make him this sheet cake to celebrate. There's a special bond that happens when you're on the road. Coworkers become family, the people you hate and love. We spend hours surrounded by each other, and then everyone joins up on days off to decompress. Sometimes it's hard for me to tell if we're all extremely happy, or if we're just united in the misery of being away from home for so long.
It's a strange thing, living most of my professional life on a plane, in a passenger van or out of a hotel room. I've grown accustomed to it, the life of a nomad. And I'm fortunate that I enjoy my job so much. Every time I go away for work I feel like I get better at making a new home for myself. This last job was especially great, because I had a fully equipped kitchen all to myself to use. It didn't have all of my usual tools, but I was able to make some smart/affordable purchases (like the emerald baking dish that was on clearance) that I used quite frequently.
I feel most like myself when I'm baking, especially when I know that whatever I'm baking is going towards someone else's enjoyment. We take care of each other on the road, and that's what this cake symbolizes to me.
This year for my birthday I ended up in New Orleans, a complete act of serendipity. I'd been wanting to visit NOLA for a long time, but avoided making the trip for a myriad of reasons. More on that in another post, but suffice it to say that I've done a lot of reflection in the last few days. I think the universe has it's way of reminding you to push through, and to reward you for the sacrifices you make. Last night some new coworkers surprised me at dinner with a vegan sorbet and a candle. It was a small gesture, but so meaningful to me. I like collecting these little birthday memories so I can pour over them on every birthday to come. Everywhere you look, if you look hard enough, there are people there to take care of you.
I love this cake for so many reasons. Its thick chocolate slices are topped with a vegan peanut butter buttercream that is smooth and not too rich. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best combinations, and once slice of this cake will satisfy any cravings you're having.
I topped the cake with naturally colored sprinkles from India Tree, and I love the way they look scattered on top/all over my apartment.
This cake is also the August addition to the #SSYearOfCake, which I'm obviously having trouble keeping up with-- on account of the fact that it's September and that I didn't make anything at all for June. Sometimes exploring what the universe has to offer doesn't always include finding myself elbow deep in a bowl of flour and sugar. I'll be making myself an actual birthday cake soon, and I'm hoping it will make up for my lack of accountability when it comes to monthly cake baking.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Sheet Cake - Sugar & Satire
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Cup plant based milk
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon powdered peanut butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons aquafaba
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
PEAnut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2-3 Tablespoons plant based milk, as needed
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine apple cider vinegar and plant based milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, to curdle into vegan buttermilk. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, powdered peanut butter, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add in vegan buttermilk, water, vanilla, oil and aquafaba until a thin batter forms.
Pour into a prepared 9 inch square baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool on counter for 10 minutes before releasing cake onto cooling rack.
To prepare the peanut butter frosting combine the vegan butter and peanut butter until fully mixed. Slowly add in powdered sugar and milk until you've reached your desired consistency. It should be creamy and thick.
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