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Popcorn Cake

Popcorn Cake

Amirah Kassem's Popcorn Cake recipe from her latest book, “The Power of Sprinkles.”
FOR BONILLA VANILLA CAKE:
  • 2 ¼ cups (335 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (315 g) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups (310 ml) milk
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Cooking spray
FOR MAGICAL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
  • 8 ounces (1 cup/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces (455 g) cream cheese, cold (bar not tub)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 32 ounces (910 g) powdered or confectioners’ sugar
  • Red food coloring
FOR ASSEMBLY:
  • Baked cakes
  • Red and white frosting
  • 2 ½ cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 ¾ cups red, white, and yellow sprinkle explosion mix


DIRECTIONS FOR BONILLA VANILLA CAKE:


1.  Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and put the oven rack in the middle of the oven. If you are using a convection oven, set it to 325°F (165°C).


2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. You have to mix all the dry ingredients together first, so that there are no clumps in your batter, which will create white spots. Set aside.


3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in from the sides.


4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed. Again, make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk and set it aside.


5. Mix about one-third of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed.


6. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture.


7. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t overmix it—stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.


8. Dye batter yellow and divide evenly into 6 portions.


9. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the batter into the greased pans.


10. Bake the cakes two at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door. Then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake. 


11. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Then flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.


DIRECTIONS FOR MAGICAL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
Makes 6 cups (3 ½ pounds/1.6 kg) of frosting.


1. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.


2. Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed—otherwise it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.


3. Dye one cup of frosting red (for the stripes on popcorn bag), starting with one drop at a time until desired brightness is reached. The remaining frosting will stay white.


4. Use right away. Technically the frosting will last at least a week in the refrigerator, but fresh frosting is key! It tastes and feels so much better.


DIRECTIONS FOR ASSEMBLY:


1. While the cake is cooling, take a clean pair of scissors and cut a little cross-hatch (like a + sign) in the very top of each marshmallow. You don’t have to go very deep – it naturally wants to open once you snip it.


2. Prepare a little bowl of water and add just a little of the yellow food coloring. Take a clean paintbrush and dab just a tiny bit of yellow food coloring. Not enough to wet the marshmallow, but just enough to give it a little bit of color, to look like butter. Set the marshmallows aside while you frost the cake.


3. Use a 2-inch (5-cm) round cookie cutter to cut the center out of every cake but the top one. Never cut a hole in your top layer of cake!


4. You start to build a six-layer cake by putting a small ring of frosting directly on top of the cake board in roughly the same shape as the cake ring. This is so that the cake really sticks to the base and isn’t sliding around while you’re working. I always frost cake layers with a piping bag, so it is easy to draw a ring.


5. Put the first layer of cake directly on top of the frosting.


6. Cover the top of the cake with an even layer of frosting. Using a piping bag, make sure to squeeze on the same amount of frosting for every layer. You don’t want to get frosting in the hole, or your sprinkles explosion will stick to the frosting.


7. Add the second layer of cake. Eyeball it from the top after you do, to make sure the holes line up. Add another layer of frosting and repeat until you reach layer 5.


8. Now, pour the sprinkles down into the center of the hole! A measuring cup with a spout works perfectly. Stop and pat down the sprinkles to the height of the cake/frosting. Add frosting and top with final cake layer.


9. Apply a crumb coat and refrigerate.


10. After the crumb coat is in place, coat the outside of the cake with a thick layer of frosting. Use a piping bag to draw on the red stripes. You can go as thin or as thick as you like, it’s up to you.


11. Start adding the popcorn marshmallows – it’s best to start by pouring them in the middle of the top of the cake. Place more around the outside edge, just where you want them.


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