This week has gone by so ridiculously fast! It’s been a good week – a celebration week:
– my cookbook announcement (thanks everyone (again!) for all the super nice comments and tweets. You’ve made my face hurt from smiling all week). Oh and a sneaky a little bit of info: it’s 75 recipes – sweet and savoury (all the courses, you know it!!). Of course there are some vegan and some gluten free recipes in there too.
– it’s the end of this half term! hoollliiddaaayyy! It’s only a week off but at least I get to sleep in for like 5 of those days.
– I kind of, sort of turned 18-years-old. Heeeyy provisional licence! (but also heyyy I’m legally an adult now. This is awkward seeming as I’m wearing slipper socks, drinking hot chocolate and singing Sound Of Music songs).
So because of all the things that have been going on, I thought we needed a cake.
A big, chocolate cake. Super indulgent with extra EVERYTHING.
It’s rare for me to make massive layer cakes because my cake layers always turn out domed so I have to level them and lose about 1/3 of the cake 🙁 Losing that much cake makes me sad (although Cynthia pointed out that those cake tops are basically made for ‘cake frosting tacos’ which is a very good point)
But this 8-layer, two tiered monster was appropriate. Cake scraps and all.
It took me a while to come up with the whole concept of the cake because there are so many variants in the land of layer cakes: flavour of the cake, flavour of the filling ,flavour of the frosting,
how many layers? tiers?
frosted sides? ‘naked cake’ style? drippy frosting style?
So I stood in the kitchen on Friday for about an hour freaking out and living an ALL CAPS life until I’d figured out everything. I was going to do chocolate, peanut butter + pretzel. Then my mum chimed in and was like ‘Noooo you need to do POPCORN.’
I was game. I’d made caramel corn before so knew I could do it pretty easily.
That is, until I burnt 2 batches of the stuff (a.k.a Izy stop trying to use brown sugar when the recipe says white sugar. Brown sugar doesn’t work. No. Stop trying the brown sugar again, it didn’t work the first time so it’s not going to work now. Also no you don’t need to brown the butter. Stop browning the butter. Stop it. Browned butter caramel doesn’t work.)
Finally after I actually followed the instructions (insert guilty slanty-face emoji HERE) it then worked.
I took the photos of the cake but then de-stacked it so I could transport it (on the TUBE) to my friends house for dinner. In doing this I accidentally made the discovery that caramel popcorn is like edible packing peanuts for cake! So cool.
The WHOLE cake managed to survive a 40 minute journey, being carried sideways in a tin – even when I got crushed against the glass panel in the tube carriage by the 5pm hoards of football fans.
P.s I totally yelled at the guy who was crushing me. YEAH. Empowerment rush, boom. Utter Beyoncé moment.
It’s a superstar cake. Especially because if you utterly mess up the glaze on top, you just get to cover it all up with popcorn and nobody eeeever knows….
Pro tip though, if you’re going to make it – decorate with the popcorn like an hour max. before serving because the moisture tends to make the popcorn go chewy after a while.
(Oh and side note: My friends made a Llama cake with a cinnamon-stick cigar for me. It took 4 guys to make this masterpiece:
- 1/2 batch of this caramel popcorn, (or about 4 cups of store bought caramel corn)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
Peanut Butter Frosting:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp water
- 4 tbsp butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and line four 6" (or 3 8") pans and an 8" square pan.
For the chocolate cake:
- Cream together the butter, sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy. Cream in the baking powder, salt and cocoa until smooth. Add 1/3 of the flour and stir in until just combined. Add half the milk and stir until just combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour and stir in until just combined. Add the rest of the milk and stir until just combined. Stir in the last 1/3 of the flour until just combined.
- Divide the batter equally among the circular and square pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto cooling rack to cool completely (remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cakes too).
For the peanut butter frosting:
- Stir all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. If you need to, add a splash of milk to make the frosting thinner or add some more powdered sugar to make it thicker. It should be a spreadable consistency.
Assembly part 1:
- Cut the cooled, square cake layer into four 3" circles using a pastry ring. Level any domed circular cake layers so that they're flat.
- Stack up the 4 large (6") cake layers with about 2 tbsp of the frosting between each layer (don't frost the top layer)
- Separately stack up the 4 small (3") layers with a heaped teaspoon of frosting between each layer.(don't frost the top layer)
Make the glaze:
- Place the chocolate, water and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a simmering pan of water. Stir until melted then remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Assembly part 2:
- Pour the majority of the glaze over the top layer of the large (6") cake and spread it out to the edges. Place the small (3") cake on top of the large cake layer and pour the remaining glaze over the top of this small cake. Spread it out to the edges.
- Decorate the cake with the caramel popcorn and serve.