I was never a big fan of summer as a child, which I attribute my fear of the ocean, Frisbees, and potato salad. Luckily my lack of fear of ice cream, pie, and running through the sprinkler helped me to make peace with the fair third season, and now we’re living happily ever after.
It’s a good thing too since I now live just down the street from the surface of the sun.
But summer is about so much more than just the temperature outside, don’t you think?
I can still smell my father’s old charcoal grill heating up. Taste my grandmother’s fresh raspberry jam. Feel myself freaking out over the faint chimes that could only mean the approach of the ice cream truck.
Summer is bonkers.
Now that I’m adult and someone mentioned to me (last week) that it was undignified to run through sprinklers, I have to find new ways to celebrate summer.
I pick bushels of fresh peaches from my local farm.
I grill corn for A., who is the biggest corn lover that I know.
I play Bob Marley and Blues Traveler at an inappropriate volume in my kitchen.
I wear out my flip flops.
And I bake stuff like Dulce De Leche Fun Cake With Peanut Butter Buttercream.
I just don’t see anyone turning down a piece of Fun Cake at your next picnic, potluck or pool party. How would that conversation even go?
You: “Excuse me, friend, would you like a piece of Fun Cake?”
Friend: “No. I don’t like cake and I don’t like fun.”
You: “Oh. Ok. Next time I’ll bring some Boring Soup and you can have some of that, OK?”
Friend: “Sounds great.”
Yeah, no. I just don’t see it.
Yes, I think you can be pretty confident that this one will be a hit at your next picnic, potluck or pool party. It’s ridiculously simple to prepare and has something to offer sweet fans (the cake is replete with sweet dulce de leche!), salty fans (the peanut butter buttercream is just a touch salty!), and messy fans (the whole deal is gooey and drippy!).
Nothing for Boring Soup fans, though. They’ll have to wait until Fall for that recipe.
Dulce De Leche Fun Cake With Peanut Butter Buttercream
adapted from the March 2012 issue of Bon Appétit
For the cake:
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1 1/4 c. dulce de leche
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. canela, ground (ground cinnamon may be substituted)
nonstick vegetable oil spray
For the frosting:
1/2 c. white sugar, granulated
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat bottom and sides of and 8″ x 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and canela in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the oil and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the dulce de leche. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, approximately 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool for at least 10 minutes before unmolding.
Meanwhile, to prepare the frosting, combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat and, using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until cool and thick, 5–6 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then salt and peanut butter. With mixer still running, add butter a few pieces at a time, beating to blend between additions.
Once cake has cooled, unmold and frost liberally. Cut and serve or store in a covered container for up to one week.
YIELD: 14-16 servings