You’re never too old for a PB&J.
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PB&J cake
Credit: Darcy Lenz

There are two things I want to get off of my chest right from the get-go: 

 I hated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid. And I am objectively awful at decorating cakes. 

Now that that's out of the way ... let's talk about this rather adorable Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake. The inspiration for it actually stemmed from a recent conversation between my significant other and myself. It was one of those last-minute, "Ugh, we have no plan and no energy — so what's for dinner?" conversations. My partner, innocently enough, suggested PB&Js.

peanut butter and jelly cake unsliced
Credit: Darcy Lenz

I think I said something like, "Ew, absolutely not." Then laughed at the idea of an adult wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. Or ever. I don't remember what we ended up eating, but shortly after, I did feel a tinge of guilt for being such a snob. I mean, there's enough strife out there without people like me being uppity jerks about sandwiching nut butter and jam. And by golly, wouldn't the world be better off if we all strived to embrace our inner child just a little more often??

That might not have been my exact thought process, but it was something along those lines and the idea for this cake was born of it. So while I'll likely never be able to construct some fantastically elaborate cake with flowers, and baubles, and icing artistry galore — being able to present a cake that looks like a towering peanut butter and jelly sandwich to my PB&J-loving person is pretty great too.

PB&J Layer Cake
Darcy Lenz

What's really awesome is that it takes no fancy skills or specialty shaped pans to create this giant cake sandwich for the PB&J people in your own life. You're simply baking two layers of white cake (to serve as you're white bread), slicing them into thinner layers, and then… well, you know how to build a sandwich. Of course, the peanut butter filling of this rendition is significantly tastier than the swoop of Skippy or Jif that showed up in your childhood lunchbox.

Though you don't need anything out of the ordinary ingredient- or equipment-wise, you will need a few distinct items to make this cake happen:

Square Baking Pans

Two of them, as a matter of fact. While most layer cake recipes call for round baking pans, you'll want to break out the pans you use for brownies and cornbread to achieve the sandwich effect. I used 8-inch pans in developing the recipe, but you could just as well use 9-inch square pans. 

Buy It: Williams Sonoma Square Cake Pan, Set of Two ($44.95,

 A Serrated Knife

A longer one — like a standard bread knife — is ideal. However, I actually used a shorter knife while making this cake at home and it worked out just fine. The key is the serrated edge; this will make it easier to (carefully) saw each square cake into two even layers (they don't have to be perfect), as well as trim the top of the cake to give it a crusted white sandwich bread look. Additionally, you'll want it to cut your cake into two diagonal halves — you know, if you like your sandwich sliced.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake
Credit: Darcy Lenz

A Large, Flat Plate

Besides a generally wider circumference, what distinguishes a cake plate from a dinner plate is that a cake plate is perfectly flat, all the way across — sometimes with a lip around the edge of the plate. A dinner plate, and many styles of serving platters, have a slight well in the center. If you were to place your PB&J Cake on a large dinner plate, that central dip would make it a bit difficult for the cake to hold its shape; not to mention, it would make it more challenging to slice. For optimal presentation, build your cake on a flat plate that's wide enough to accommodate its width. 

An Appetite for Fun

Not to be cheesy, but this is a playful cake — no curmudgeonly attitudes allowed. Part of the visual appeal of this cake is that it's a little messy. Rather than having cake decorating skills, what you really need to have is the ability to silence your adult sensibilities for a few minutes while you really pile on the peanut butter filling and jam, and spread it to the edges of each cake layer so that when the layers stack up, the PB&J oozes down the sides of your sandwich. 

As you watch your cake effortlessly self-frost, take a beat to remind yourself that you're never too old to play with your food. Don't take any of it too seriously, folks.