Mom bakes peanut cakeMom bakes peanut cake

Is there anyone who doesn’t like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? I find it addictive, and my interest is always snagged by recipes containing both ingredients.

Years ago, easily more than thirty, my mother gave my sister and me matching Land ‘o Lakes recipe card file boxes when we left home. The boxes came with printed dividers and quite a few recipes already in them, mostly for baked goods containing Land ‘o Lakes butter, naturally, and Smilin’ Fresh Eggs, which I guess were a brand of eggs being marketed by the company at the time. Most of the recipes were useless to me but my sister alerted me to one for a cake that she and I still make today, Peanut Butter Cake Squares. I have blown many a diet by baking this cake and then not being able to resist eating it, but this time I was taking it to a Memorial Day picnic so I knew I wouldn’t be bringing any home and I didn’t. Every speck got eaten (although I did have a piece myself but that’s because there wasn’t anything else at the picnic worth eating!)

This is my fall-back cake when I need to make something in a hurry; I almost always have the ingredients on hand and everyone loves it. It doesn’t need to be frosted because the topping is baked right on, and it is served from the baking pan so it’s easy to carry. The recipe calls for buttermilk but regular milk can easily be soured by replacing 1 tablespoon of the milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and letting it sit for a few minutes, or do what I did the other day – thin out a small container of plain yogurt with a little milk to make 1 cup. And don’t forget that buttermilk actually keeps much longer than the freshness date on the carton indicates – it’s kind of like eggs that way. I think my sister occasionally mixes a banana into the cake batter; I don’t know why she would want to mess with perfection but if you love bananas you may want to try it.

I feel so sorry for people with peanut allergies, don’t you?

Peanut Butter Cake Squares from Land ‘o Lakes recipe box long time ago

Preheat oven to 350º

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In large mixer bowl cream butter, peanut butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Pour into a greased 13×9-inch pan. Sprinkle with Topping. Bake at 35º for 25 to 30 minutes.

Topping: In small bowl mix first three ingredients together with fork until crumbly; stir in chips.


Wow. I’ve got to try this one. I’m a sucker for the pb and chocolate combo, too. Plus, I find I have a growing interest in finding “back of the box” and other “corporate” recipes that turn out to be long-lasting gems. Jeffrey Steingarten wrote a fun article on the topic, titled “Back of the Box” in February 1992 in (I think) Vogue magazine. I found it in his first book of collected essays, The Man Who Ate Everything.

Anyway, I haven’t baked in a long time and was looking for an excuse to do it again. Now I have it. Thanks!

Hi, Mac! I like back of the box recipes, too – I think they tend to be pretty good, probably because, unlike a lot of cookbook recipes these days, they have been tested and re-tested. One of my favorite cookie recipes is off the back of a Brer Rabbit molasses bottle from the late 60s.

This looks so good, and I know my husband will just love it — his favorite candy is a reece’s peanut butter cup (me, too, when I’m not watching my waistline)… I’m just afraid to make it because I know that I will eat it all!!

I sure was drooling because I love this cake so much and now that I’m not eating sweets anymore…well you get the picture. Actually I double the amount of peanut butter in the cake because it makes it more moist. Maybe we can make this at the lake this summer!

Sue and Susan – You’ll just have to do what I did and only make this cake when you know a crowd will be there to eat it (allow yourself a tiny slice!)

And Sue, I’ll try putting extra peanut butter in the batter next time, although I think it’s already pretty moist with the buttermilk as long as you’re careful not to overbake it. Maybe we can make it for the party up at the lake.

This cake looks fantastic.

When I eat peanut butter, which is a rare occasion, I really enjoy the freshly made stuff that’s a bit gooey and still has chunks of peanut in it — the real deal, if you will. And, it looks pretty gross when it’s been sitting around for a bit and has had the chance to separate.

Would you suggest using that sort of peanut butter or the mass-produced kind that never separates?

Oh, and another question. In the photo, there are bits of the topping that look somewhat like Rice Krispies. Are those just pieces of peanut?

Hi, Colin – We eat a lot of natural peanut butter here, my husband likes it for breakfast with banana, so we always have both kinds on hand since Calvin will only eat Jif. I generally use the Jif for this cake since I don’t want to be bothered with the stirring, etc. when I’m baking, or using the more expensive ingredients when I don’t think you can tell the difference. And I think it might be hard to mix up the topping with the natural separating all over the place. And speaking of the topping, I can see what you mean in the photo but those aren’t Rice Krispies, they’re just the streusel-like crumbs of the topping!

Add a comment