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Central Market Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Ganache
1/2 C. heavy cream
3 T. creamy peanut butter
6 oz. high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Peanut Butter Layer Cake
2 1/4 C. sifted cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 C. creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 C. sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten at room temperature
3/4 C. whole milk, at room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract
6 T. strawberry jam
2 C. salted peanuts, finely chopped
6-8 strawberries, hulled and cut vertically into 1/8 inch-thick slices

To Make Cake:
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the even and preheat to 350F. Line the bottoms of the 9 x 2 -inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or wax paper.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of wax paper, set aside.

3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer filled with the paddle blade, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed until the mixture is lighter in color, about 45 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream, then stop the machine and scrape down the bowl. Return to medium speed and beat, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Gradually pour in the eggs, about a tablespoon at a time. (If the mixture looks curdled, stop adding the eggs, increase the speed to high, and beat until it looks smooth and shiny. Return the speed to medium and add the remaining the eggs.) Continue beating until the mixture is ivory-colored. The entire process of adding and beating the eggs should take 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to-low. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with three additions of the milk. After each addition each addition, beat until smooth and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla toward the end of mixing. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans.

6. Bake until the tops spring back when the cakes are lightly pressed in the centers and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

7. Transfer the layers to wire cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto the racks or plates, right side up, and cool completely on the wax paper. (The cake can be baked 1 day ahead, cooled, and stored, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Or freeze, over-wrapped with foil, for up to 2 weeks.

To Make Ganache:
1. To make the ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan over low heat just until warm. Add the peanut butter and whisk to blend. Place the white chocolate in medium bowl and pour the warm cream on top. Let stand for 1 minute, then stir until melted and smooth. Let stand at room temperature until cooled, thick, and spreadable, about 1 hour.

2. Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half horizontally. The tops will become the bottom and top of the cake, and the remaining layers will be the center. Place a dab of the ganache in the center of an 8 1/2 inch cardboard cake round. Place a layer, top side down, on the cardboard. Spread with 3 tablespoons jam, spreading to the edges. Top with another layer and spread with 3 tablespoons ganache, spreading to the edges. Top with the remaining layer, top side up. Spread the top, then the sides, with the remaining ganache.

3. Place the chopped peanuts in a jelly- roll pan. Hold the cake in one hand directly over the pan and tilt the cake slightly. With the other hand, pick up some of the peanuts and press them into the ganache on the sides. Rotate the cake as you apply the peanuts until the sides are completely covered. Using a clean metal spatula, press the peanuts into the ganache to make them more fully adhere. (the cake can be stored at room temperature, under a cake dome, for 1 day.)

4. No more than 1 hour before serving, starting at the edge of the top of the cake, arrange the strawberry slices in concentric circles until the surface is covered.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.



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