Making birthday cakes for work is my excuse to create some pretty extravagant cakes that I couldn’t justify baking that often during a normal year, without my family ballooning beyond return. It’s also a great way to challenge myself and come up with something new – to my colleagues anyway. I plead guilty, Pinterest has been very instrumental in all this and at providing me sooooo many ideas for cakes.It all started with the Malteser covered cake, which I made for my son’s first birthday.
Then the famous rainbow cake, for daughter’s third birthday.
But the last one I fell for was the Salted caramel popcorn cake! Credit where it’s due – Pinterest led me here to La Peche fraiche.
Although my recipe was quite different, this was definitely my point of inspiration.
Most of the recipes are not my own, so I will be short here.
This cake is a combination of:
- 2 yoghurt cakes
- Caramel buttercream
- Salted caramel sauce
- Salted caramel popcorn
I halved each cake, drizzled some caramel sauce (deliciously sinking into the cake) and added a layer of buttercream, sandwiched with the other half, covered the cake in buttercream and repeated with the smaller one on top. I then drizzled the salted caramel sauce on top of the cake before adding the caramel popcorn. As I had to cross town with cake to the office, I did all the assembly there and served immediately. Needless to say, I was pretty popular in the office on that day.
I used Mary Berry’s Lemon yoghurt cake recipe – minus the lemon. I’ve made this a million times in the past couple of years, and this is a fabulous cake with a lovely rise and moist crumb. It’s very versatile – with lemon curd, lemon icing, raspberry jam, fresh fruits, the lot – just a few ideas below – I’ll do a proper post on this soon but meanwhile, you can find the recipe here.
Once you have your cake (and yes, for mine, I made one large, and one small), you need buttercream.
My favourite version is swiss buttercream, where you start by mixing egg whites and sugar over heat, then whip the hell out of it, then add cubes of butter one at a time, then your flavouring. Again, I’ll do a proper post on this soon, but meanwhile, you can check out Martha Stewart’s version. I added Salted caramel sauce to my buttercream, until it gave the cream a hint of colour and a definite caramel flavour. I doubled the amount of sauce recommended on La Peche Fraiche, so used a whole batch (or 200g) just to flavour the buttercream.
Salted Caramel sauce
Recipe written up here – make a serious batch for this, and remember that any leftover can be stored in a jar for spreading on toast or drizzling on icecream and keeps pretty well (at least a month in the fridge, if you can resist that long!).
Salted caramel popcorn
The easy thing to do here is obvisouly to get caramel popcorn straight out of a bag. It’s simple, easy and saves you time and effort. But that just takes the challenge away, and I love making popcorn, so I definitely wanted to have a go at this. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the recipe on La Peche Fraiche in terms of process – you make a caramel, stick some baking soda, smother the popcorn in it then bake it – fine, but why? I liked this recipe better. That said, even after mixing the popcorn in the caramel and layering it on a baking tray, it didn’t really need to go dry in the oven at all. I left it in to try for 10-20 mins, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference, so I’m not sure this is needed.
I had WAY more than I needed for the cake, but it’s a fantastic treat by itself, and everyone in the house was munching happily on this… good too as my poor family has to deal with a lot of pretty major cakes leaving the house without getting a chance to taste them (I am desperately trying to keep some to bring home, but generally these get demolished in a matter of minutes at work!).
I realise that I’m completely failing in the double mission that I set myself with this blog: be concise and be precise. But right now, I’m pretty psyched to be starting this adventure, and I want to tell my cake stories. The beautifully accomplished, crafted recipe writing that will make everyone have a lightbulb moment (‘it was actually so easy!’) is not quite in my grasp.
I will try harder. Meanwhile, enjoy pictures, anecdotes and hopefully, get inspired…