Recipes

Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream

January 19, 2016

Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream

This recipes was originally posted a few years ago on my old site, Baker By Design. I’ve always had the intention to one day recreate the recipe, maybe make some improvements and then take some pictures with something other than an iPhone. Then, today, I discovered it was National Popcorn Day. So I figured, I’ll just throw it up on here. Maybe one day I’ll make those new pictures happen. But then maybe I won’t. I should also state that this cake was used to bribe my way backstage at a Dragonette concert.

I am going to admit something to everyone: I don’t really like cake. Maybe it’s the amount of frosting, maybe it’s the size, maybe it’s always too dry, maybe it’s far too rich, maybe it’s just so common that I just have no desire to enjoy it. But for some reason, I just don’t like it. It never appeals to me. I never crave cake like I do with ice cream or sorbet or a brownie or a cookie or meatballs. And that’s just EATING it! As far as making a cake, it’s a lot of work…well, just a lot of steps. You have to make the cake, you have to make the frosting, you have to flavor it and you have to make it look pretty.

I’m not a cake decorator. I have no desire to do it. There are some AMAZING cake decorators out there. It’s mind blowing what some people will do. Maybe it’s the designer in me, but I feel like I’ve gotten the visually creative side out of me. Yes, I do think desserts and pastries should look beautiful…but I care more about flavor. If you make something that takes 80 hours and then is demolished within seconds or makes people have second thoughts about actually eating it…well, what’s the point? I think food should be beautiful and appetizing. You see it. You want it. You taste it. You have a mouth orgasm…also know as a mouthgasm.

So I’ve been pretty much against making cakes (don’t even get me started on cupcakes) for a while. Yet, for some reason, I’ve been wanting to make one for a while now. I can’t really explain why, I just had the urge. It could have something to do with the cake stand I got at HomeGoods…or maybe it’s because I wanted something a little more commercial…or…well…honestly, I don’t know. But it happened.

Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream

The idea for this cake stemmed from not wanting to do a crumb coat or some fancy frosting work. But rather than use cake crumbs or something else fairly standard, I thought I might try to work with one of my favorite combinations: salty & sweet. The cake itself is very simple. It’s not the focus. It’s a background flavor…an empty canvas. A vanilla genoise. Simple. Classic. Of course there’d be buttercream…but making it caramel never hurts…and what’s better than bourbon? (I guess Rye). And of course, what goes well with caramel and sweets? Buttered popcorn! (Seriously, I highly recommend buying a giant tub of buttered popcorn at the movies and then dumping in two packs of sour patch kids and shaking it all about. You WON’T be disappointed.)

Cakes are slightly deceptive. They seem like a lot of work. And in a way, they are. If you make one in one day with lots of components, yes. But if you’re smart and you plan it out, pretty much everything can be made ahead of time and assembled when you need it to. In fact, the simple syrup is best when made a couple of days ahead so that it really gets full of vanilla flavor. The cakes can be frozen and the buttercream can be stored in the fridge (just be careful when bringing it up to temperature).

For the popcorn, if you want to, go ahead and make it from scratch, but after everything else you’ve done, I find that just waiting about 4 minutes by the microwave is FAR easier. And there’s something pretty fantastic about that fake butter that we’ve all grown to love.

Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream

The syrup makes a lot. More than you need. You can cut it back if you want. But syrup lasts A LONG time. Use it in cocktails, turn it into sorbet, add it to coffee or hot chocolate. The cake batter also makes a lot (depending on what size cake pan/ring you use). For the cake seen here, I used two 7-inch rings and had enough for a third. You can cut it back if you like, or just bake it all off. Just remember that baking time will vary depending on the size, so adjust accordingly. With all the scraps of cake you have leftover, you can also do a number of things. Toast the crumbs and save for another cake, turn into cake truffles (which is, essentially a cake pop minus the stick but it sounds a lot fancier) by mixing with a bit of the leftover buttercream and syrup and rolling the leftover popcorn. Basically, you’ll end up with leftovers, but you can use item for anything. Don’t let it go to waste. And I feel it’s always better to have extra then to end up running out halfway through and going into a panic. Who knows, maybe in the following weeks you’ll find a frozen version of this: vanilla sorbet with toasted cake crumbs and buttered popcorn smothered with salted bourbon caramel. Maybe.

Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
1 cake
Servings
1 cake
Buttered Popcorn Cake with Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
1 cake
Servings
1 cake
Ingredients
Vanilla Syrup
White Genoise (Sponge Cake)
Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream
Salted Bourbon Caramel
Buttered Popcorn
Servings: cake
Units:
Instructions
Vanilla Syrup
  1. Weigh the water right into the saucepan, then add the sugar and stir. By doing this, you’ll make sure that there’s no sugar directly on the bottom of the pan and it won’t scorch. Add in the anilla bean. Turn the burner on to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it go for a minute then take it off the heat. Let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the entire contents into a container, cover and then store in the fridge. When you’re ready to make the genoise, remove the vanilla bean, split it down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Reserve them for the genoise and add the split bean back to the syrup. Cover and chill until ready to use. The longer you let the vanilla bean steep in the syrup, the more flavorful it will be.
White Genoise (Sponge Cake)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and the sugar. Whisk on high for 10 minutes, then, turn it down to medium and whisk for another 10 minutes. During this time, add in the vanilla seeds that you scraped from the bean. Don’t skimp on this time. This is all the leavening that’s in the cake. You want LOTS of volume. If the batter looks like it is about to spill out of the bowl, that’s a good thing.
  3. Once it’s been fully mixed, remove from the mixer and pour the contents into a large bowl. Sift over the flours and salt and quickly (yet gently) fold in from the middle.
  4. Divide the batter evenly into two ungreased rings/cake pans (about 3/4 full) and smooth the tops out. (If you are using cake pans that are do not have removable bottoms, spray the bottom with pan spray and then place a round of parchment over…otherwise you’ll never get the cake out). Carefully place in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes. The cakes will be a nice, light golden color and when you touch the center of the cake, it will feel firm and spring a little bit.
  5. Run a small offset spatula around the edges of the cakes and let cool on a wire rack.
Salted Caramel Bourbon Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of a mixer, add the egg yolks. Attach the paddle. Turn on high. Walk over to the stove. Combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil. Brush the sides of the inside of the pot with a brush that’s been dipped in water. Let it go. Keep watching it. It will take a while. In fact, it will seem like you did something wrong and that it will never start to caramelize. Be patient. It will. Once it does, it goes quickly. Swirl the pan about when it starts to turn amber. Remember, the pot is HOT, so even when you turn the heat off, the caramel will continue to cook. So you always want to go a bit lighter. When it starts to turn to a caramel color, remove from the heat. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly drizzle in the hot caramel.
  2. Once it’s all been mixed in, turn the speed up to medium and let it go until the mixture has cooled down. Test it by touching the bottom of the bowl. When it’s no longer hot, add in the butter in small amounts until it’s all incorporated. This might take a while. Once it’s all added, let it whip for a bit. Sometimes it might look like it’s about to separate, but see it through and whip it. You want to make it nice and airy.
  3. Finally, add in the bourbon and the salt. Adjust to your tastes.
  4. If you’re going to cover the cake the same day, leave the buttercream out, otherwise, store in a container, covered, in the fridge until ready to use. Let it come to room temperature before icing (I let it sit out overnight and then whip it again in the mixer). If you’re impatient, microwave in small increments so that you don’t release the oil from all the butter and get a squeegee, oily disaster.
Salted Bourbon Caramel
  1. In a sauce pan (make sure it has high sides), combine the water and sugar. Brush the sides of the inside of the pot with a brush that’s been dipped in water. Bring to a boil. This will turn a caramel color A LOT quicker than the buttercream syrup. So don’t go too far away. When it starts to look amber, swirl the pan about to evenly distribute the heat. Remember it will keep cooking. So when it starts to darken, I turn off the heat, but continue to swirl until the caramel gets to the dark color I want (a deep, reddish brown). Add in the cream. It will hiss and toil and scream at you, but don’t let it frighten you! Beat it into submission with a spoon (or whisk) until it’s settled down. Stir in the bourbon along with the salt. Taste. Let it cool to room temperature. (Quicken it by putting it by a window, in a bowl, over an ice bath or in the fridge).
  2. If you have a squeeze bottle, GREAT! If you don’t, have a spoon handy (I’m hoping you’ve got one of those.)
Buttered Popcorn
  1. Take the plastic wrapper off. Place bag in microwave…wait…am I really writing this out? If you can’t make microwave popcorn, you don’t deserve to be making this cake. So, just, figure this one out. I believe in you.
  2. Preheat your oven to about 200ºF. Spread the popped popcorn on a sheet tray and let it dry for about 10–15 minutes. This will take out some moisture so they won’t get all soggy on the cake (because they will soak in some of the sugar).
  3. Once it’s been dried, either crumb it up by hand, a knife or in a food processor. But don’t do all of it. Save some whole popped corn for garnish.
Assembly
  1. First, you’re going to want to trim your cakes. Using a serrated knife or a cake knife, even the mounded tops out. Then, cut each cake in half. You’ll have 4 slices of cake in the end (or you can do two large slices or six…it’s really up to you in the end).
  2. Place a few pieces of parchment paper on the cake stand and then place a bottom cake slice on top. (Make 
sure you can pull out the parchment.) Now, grab a brush and your vanilla syrup. Liberally brush the cake with the syrup. When you think you’ve added enough, add more. Seriously. The cake has no flavor. It’s a giant sponge. It’s CRAVING liquid. So give it some! Remember how you did this. Because you’ll have to do this again. You’ll know it has enough when the top starts glistening. You’ll know you added too much if it starts seeping out the bottom…don’t fret…the frosting will cover it up.
  3. After you’ve given it a good soaking, now comes time for the first layer of buttercream. Plop a good amount on top of the cake. But first, you have a decision to make. Do you want the cream to be the same thickness as the cake? Or maybe you want it thinner…if you say thicker, you’re crazy. But, who am I to judge? Either way, make the decision now, and then, use an offset spatula to spread the buttercream around. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be even. Cause another cake layer is going on top. You don’t want to do right to the edge because when you put the next layer on, it’ll squeeze out a bit…but not a whole lot. But that’s also why you’ll be frosting the sides.
  4. So then, just repeat the layer of cake, the soaking and the buttercreaming until you have no more cake 
slices left. Then, go and buttercream the sides. Try to get that to be about the same thickness of the layers of buttercream inside the cake. Remember, this doesn’t have to be pretty, just even. The top of the cake is up to you. But more on that in a second.
  5. Finally, the fun part. Take the crushed popcorn and press it into the sides of the cake. You want the sides 
completely covered.
  6. Then it’s the top. The top should be even and pretty. But now you get to garnish it with popcorn. Add crumbs all over, or maybe some whole one around the sides. It’s up to you. You could also just mound them up in the center (which is what I like).
  7. Next, take the caramel sauce and drizzle it over the popcorn mountain. Remove the parchment pieces and clean off the edges of the plate. Rejoice! Your creation is now complete.
  8. When serving, garnish with more popcorn and some more caramel sauce. Or don’t. It’s up to you. It’s your body. They’re your teeth.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

You Might Also Like