Peanut Butter Pretzel Cake

Wow, just wow. Hil and I have been off the 'food blog thing' for quite some time and really don't need to explain why to you. So, back off because we're back and better than ever! And I made this crazy cake! Let's get to it. 

 "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" - get it? get it? Seinfeld.

"These pretzels are making me thirsty!" - get it? get it? Seinfeld.

I've had the Joy the Baker cookbook for quite some time now and have loved everything I've made out of it, including this cake.  I made this for my little brother's birthday because for the past two years that my husband and I have lived with him, he has asked me approximately 500 times when I plan on baking this goddamn cake. I mean... I made it for his birthday because I love him.  

 Look at that view

Look at that view

It looks pretty daunting but, it's a pretty easy cake to make and is so effing good (I am tooting my own horn but it's true).  A very rich chocolate cake with a light, fluffy peanut butter frosting and crunchy pretzels inside and out?! What??? Seriously, so good. Don't be afraid, make this now. 


For the cake

3 cups cake flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp instant espresso powder

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 

4 large eggs, room temp

1 tbsp vanilla extract 

2 cups buttermilk 

For the Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract 

6 - 7 cups confectioners' sugar

3 - 4 tbsp heavy cream

For Decorating the Cake

1/2 cup coarsely crushed pretzels 

1/2 chopped semi-sweet or dark (60% cacao) chocolate 

several handfuls of mini pretzels


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in center and upper third.  Grease three 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment (measure and cut parchment to fit) and grease again
  2. In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and instant espresso. 
  3. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beat for 1 minute and scrape the bowl down with a silicone spatula after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until incorporated, scrape bowl. Add buttermilk and beat on low til incorporated, scrape bowl. Add remaining flour mixture and beat til combined, aaaand scrape the bowl (see a theme?). Remove bowl from mixture and divide batter among three prepared cake pans. 
  4. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans for about 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely. 
  5. Wrap really well in plastic rack and store in fridge (for a day or two) or in the freezer (for up to 7 days) if you don't plan on frosting the cake immediately. 

Make Frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about a minute. Add the peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract and beat for a couple minutes. Scrap the bowl down.  Add 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined.  Add another 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Add the remaining 2 - 3 cups of sugar and remaining cream and beat until desired consistency. I liked mine light and fluffy and beat for about 5 minutes. 

Frost the cake (here's a good tutorial on that) and line the outside with mini pretzels. Scatter the crushed pretzels and chocolate on top.