This is definitely a cake for all the peanut butter lovers out there. The cake itself is sweet, lightly spiced and moist – and it doesn’t have a speck of peanut butter in it. The crumble topping, on the other hand, is made up almost entirely of peanut butter, with just a few additional ingredients to sweeten it up and give it a better texture when it bakes onto the cake. The topping is delicious and addictive if, as I said, you like peanut butter, but even if it’s not your favorite cake topping the fact that the cake doesn’t have any peanut butter in it at all gives this cake a great balance.
I believe this recipe originally came from an issue of Sunset, Good Housekeeping or some similar publication from about 2 decades ago. I have it hand-written and the details of exactly where it came from are fuzzy, although the other recipe cards it was with largely contained recipes from those two publications at around that time. In the event you happen to know the issue, let me know in the comments! Anyway, I must have saved the recipe because it seemed easy to make and quite original.
I like peanut butter, but it can be a bit overwhelming in some recipes, so I really like the way that it’s only incorporated into the topping here. The topping is not like a streusel topping, although it may look like it. It is more like a cross between the inside of a peanut butter cup and a streusel topping: rich and peanut buttery, but just dry enough to crumble and melt into your mouth. There is a bit of crunch in the topping from the nuts in the chunky peanut butter. I used an organic/natural brand (salted), but this will work out with one of the national brands, as well. I highly recommend opting for chunky peanut butter for the additional texture.
The final element in this dish is the raisins in the cake. They’re moist and sweet, just sweet enough to take the edge off of the rich peanut butter topping. I liked them a lot more than I thought I would, but if you really don’t like raisins, you can substitute chocolate chips or omit them entirely. Serve the cake plain, or with a little bit of jab to go for that PB&J effect.
Peanut Butter Crumble Cake
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup crunchy peanut butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a hand mixer (or with a spoon, if you’re so motivated), beat in the softened butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
Add buttermilk and egg to the large bowl with the remaining flour mixture. Stir well, until no streaks of flour remain, then stir in raisins. Pour into prepared pan.
Add peanut butter to medium bowl with remaining 3/4 cup flour mixture. Stir well and crumble (or drop in clumps, as the mixture will be thick) onto the cake batter in the pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing.