Recipe: Classic PB&J Snack Cake

Recipe: Classic PB&J Snack Cake

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Christine Gallary
Sep 29, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you're a fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches then boy oh boy, are you in for a treat. This snack cake starts with a tender, moist cake full of peanut flavor, but the crowning touch is in the hypnotic swirl of jelly over the top. A creamy peanut butter mixture and dollops of grape jelly mix and mingle throughout the cake batter and bake up so that every single bite of this cake tastes as though a PB&J and yellow cake collided. Don't blame me if you become as enamored of this cake as I am.

The classic yellow cake gets a great texture and flavor from buttermilk, but you can use whole milk instead if you want — the cake batter may be thinner, so check on the cake earlier while it's baking.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The cake itself isn't too sweet here, letting the swirls on top shine through. Adding a few ingredients to peanut butter help make the topping tastier and keep it from sinking into the batter, as does a little hot water to loosen the jelly up to make dolloping easier.

One of my most favorite baking activities is swirling pretty patterns and designs with a knife and seeing how beautiful they bake up — there's no wrong way to do it, and it gives me another excuse to bake up this crave-worthy cake that's just as good with a glass of milk as it is with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Classic PB&J Snack Cake

Makes 1 (9x13-inch) cake; 12 to 15 servings

For the cake:
Cooking spray or butter
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or whole milk

For the PB&J swirl:
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup grape jelly
1 teaspoon hot water

Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Generously coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter; set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine; and set aside.

Place the sugar, oil, and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. On low speed, add 1/2 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Slowly pour in all of the buttermilk or milk and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat just until smooth — do not overmix.

Pour into the baking dish and smooth out the top; set aside.

Make the swirl: Place the peanut butter, powdered sugar, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and combined; set aside. Place the jelly and water in a small bowl and whisk until loosened (it will not be completely smooth).

Dollop teaspoonfuls of the grape jelly onto the cake batter, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Dollop heaping teaspoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture between the jelly. Drag the tip of a table knife through the dollops of peanut butter and jelly to create a swirl pattern, making sure to drag the pattern to the edges of the baking dish.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes (metal pans will bake faster than ceramic or glass). Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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