In the last there weeks I have made so many bloggable things that have come no where near being actually written down. Laziness perhaps? My bustling social life? In all honesty I think its because I was too impatient to make more things that ALL my weekend time has been spent in the kitchen and not in front of my lap top.
At work, we finally reached our fundraising goal for our friend and colleague in Venezuela. I am rather stoked I don't have to make ridiculous quantities of cakes and slices and bring them into work anymore. Making the same old boring crowd favourites is a little tedious and in no way a challenge so I'm glad that is all done and dusted. Now I get to spend less time icing swirls onto cakes and more time sharing with you now.
I found some good caramel popcorn on the cheap a while back. It had been sitting in my cupboard for a month or so and I really wanted to make use of it. Clear Sophie logic meant that the best way to use this popcorn would to be make an entire four layer cake to act as a serving platter for this meagre bag of popcorn. Seriously, that is what went through my head a few weeks ago.
So after a morning of caramel cake research I came to settle on the following recipe from La Peche Fraiche. It had all the elements I was after: a buttery cake, salted caramel and popcorn.
It had been a while since I made Italian meringue buttercream. All the egg yolks in this recipe went into making the sponge rich and yellow while the whites are whipped with sugar syrup to create the even butterier icing. To make the buttercream you are definitely going to want a stand mixer. You have to painstakingly beat in 300g of butter into the meringue until it turns from a fat in meringue emulsion to a meringue in fat emulsion. Yes you could do this with a hand beater but it wouldn't be fun.
Originally this recipe created only enough batter for two layers of butter cake. I decided this created to where near the height that I was after so I frantically raced around producing another two layers. I reduced the butter in the buttercream from 350g to 300g. This will in no way be a cake for dieters but small victories where I can...
I am also terribly sorry for all the photos I take on my measly sized deck. Our kitchen is a dungeon, we have no garden nor do we have a trendy sunny lounge area #studentflat. The deck is the only place that actually gets natural light. It is also only about the size of two surfboards stuck together, one weekend I am going to put my head towards building something a little more stylish. I think I say that everything week though..
Caramel Popcorn Butter Cake
Adapted from La Peche Fraiche
Makes 4x15cm layers of cake
For the butter cake
170g butter, softened
260g white sugar
6 egg yolks
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees on bake. Grease and line as many 15cm cake tins as you have (I only have two so I had to do this in two lots).
Cream together the butter and sugar until thick and pale. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Sieve together the flour and baking powder and mix the milk and vanilla together in a jug.
Add half the dry mix to the batter, stir gently then add half the milk mixture and stir. Add the remaining flour mix then milk and beat until the batter is smooth.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the four pans. The best way to do this is to weigh the entire mixture and divide by four. Place a cake tin on the scale and zero it then add the batter until the scale reaches the calculated amount.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean but still moist.
Transfer to cooling racks then remove from the tins after half an hour and leave to cool completely.
Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
225 white sugar
1 teaspoons glucose syrup
300g butter, cold, cubed
1/2 cup salted caramel
Pinch of salt
Place the water, sugar, glucose and salt in a saucepan and heat the syrup until it reaches 115 degrees C. Meanwhile beat the egg whites in a super clean and grease free mixer until soft peaks form. At this point gently pour in the hot syrup whilst the mixer is going on a medium to high speed. Beat the meringue until it has cooled to body temperature and the meringue is thick and glossy.
Start adding the butter one or two cubes at a time. Beat on high until the butter has been totally incorporated before adding the next cube of butter. Repeat this until the buttercream is thick and silky. At this point add in the salted caramel.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon glucose syrup
Salt to taste (close to 1/2 teaspoon I would say - but gradually add and taste it as you go)
Heat the sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan and gently warm the cream in another. Bring the cream to just below the boil, no further. Boil the sugar until it becomes a golden amber colour. At this point, slowly pour in the cream being careful to stir and not let it bubble over. Once added stir over a gentle heat to make sure there is no sugar stuck at the bottom. Remove from the heat. Add the salt until it reaches the saltiness you desire. Refrigerate until cool.
2 cups caramel popcorn
1/2 cup salted caramel
A thick wooden cake skewer
To assemble this cake, spread a small spoonful of the buttercream between each layer of the cake and stack them up high. Adjust the cake skewer (the ones used to make tiered cakes) length to the height of the cake. Place the skewer straight down the centre of the cake to prevent the layers from slipping.
Cover the cake in a light crumb coat and refrigerate until it is set.
Cover the cake in the remaining buttercream and smooth to the desired finish.
Gently place spoonfuls of the salted caramel in the centre of the cake and use the back of the spoon to gently spread the caramel to the edges of the cake. Lightly nudge the caramel so that it starts to trickle down the side. Reserve a little caramel to act as glue for the popcorn. Stack the popcorn up onto the cake using this caramel to help achieve the height.