Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Popcorn Layer Cake



Hi, it's Jo from An Easy Gluten Free Life here and I can't wait to show you how to make this AH-MAZING Salted Caramel Peanut Butter layer cake. Yep, you read it right - there's peanut butter, there's salted caramel and oh, I forgot to mention that there's chocolate... so much chocolate! 


I don't know about you, but Easter has never been the same for me since I realised that the big Cadbury Creme Egg easter eggs aren't actually just a massive shell of chocolate filled with gooey Creme Egg fondant. I was sooooo excited to finally get one but my dreams were crushed when I tapped that thick chocolate shell and heard a little clunk. Easter was ruined for years. Then, Hallelujah praise the Lord along came Reese's filled eggs and my obsession with over-indulgent peanut butter and chocolate combos was born! 


Switch back to the present day and the kind girls over at The Popcorn Shed sent me some of their fantastic popcorns to try. That was when I learned that all popcorns are not created equal! Their popcorn is so, so good ladies I can't tell you. Huge pieces of soft but crispy chunks of heaven were enjoyed by pretty much everyone who saw me that day. Coeliac or not, every single person now asks me if there's any more (here's looking at you Mum!) The one we most enjoyed had to be their Salted Caramel popcorn that also has a rather naughty coating of milk chocolate on, FYI.  


A few weeks later I was checking over my Creme Egg Cupcake recipe ready for my Easter blogging and felt well, to be honest, a little bored. Unbelievably good as these cupcakes are, I had seen so many similar recipes, that I just had to do something different. But what could I make? Easter is about Mini Eggs, Thorntons and feeling slightly comatose (but also a little bit giddy) after eating too much chocolate, right? So... I thought back to my Creme Egg disappointment and rifled through my baking box. And there it was, The Popcorn Shed's super indulgent Salted Caramel popcorn next to a bag of fine dark chocolate drops and voila - this beauty was born.


Now, I know what you're thinking - this is not an easy cake to make Jo - I'd have to be professional to create something like this. But my blog ain't called An Easy Gluten Free Life for nothin! I promise you ladies, I am not a professional baker - I can't make a mirror glaze, I can't pipe anything fancy and I certainly can't make sugar paste flowers! However, I managed this with the help of my heavily pregnant bestie who was having Braxton Hicks contractions at the time... That's how easy it is ladies! You just need the right equipment and to take your time. Seriously - that's it! 


FROSTING A LAYER CAKE: The ever amazing Hummingbird Bakery have created this easy tutorial to show you how to frost a cake. Although the basic principles are the same, I have some top tips in my instructions to make this even easier. Remember that we don't want to fill the cake with frosting immediately like they do here - make that frosting "wall" ladies - then add the caramel, then fill each layer like this... or there will be some very slippy cakes around (and possibly all over the floor)! 


CREATING A DRIP LAYER: Courtney @ Cake By Courtney has a really simple video to show you how drips are done. She uses a squeezy bottle but you can swap this for a piping bag or use a spoon, whichever feels easiest.





Cooking time - 1.5 hours

Total Time - 3 hours


Equipment Needed


* 3 x 20cm cake tins

* Basic baking equipment such as bowls, spoons and spatulas etc

* 1cm plain tip nozzle

* 1cm open star nozzle

* 2 large piping bags

* Cake leveller

* Turntable

* 10" cake board or equivalent

* Large palette knife

* Cake smoother

* Electric mixer - handheld or stand 


Ingredients for the Cake Sponges


* 525g unsalted butter or Stork

* 405g Asda Free From self-raising flour

* 8 medium eggs

* 300g light brown soft sugar

* 225g white granulated sugar

* 100g cocoa powder

* 3 tsp Waitrose baking powder (use 2-2.5 tsp for other brands)

* 10 tbsp milk


Ingredients for the Frosting


* 2 cups unsalted butter or Stork

* 4 cups smooth Peanut Butter

* 8 cups icing sugar

* 200ml double cream

* 1/2 tsp salt

* 200g Carnation Caramel or Dulce De Leche

* Dark chocolate drops


Ingredients for the Ganache Drip Layer


* 200g dark chocolate drops

* 200ml double cream








* Mix together butter and both sugars until it forms a smooth paste

* Add the eggs and beat quickly until you have a batter with small lumps in, as shown below. If you are using a mixer, use the highest setting to create air in the mix


* Gradually fold in the flour and cocoa powder, adding the Baking Powder once these are combined

* Slowly fold in 7tbs of milk, adding more until the mixture comes easily off the spoon, but isn't runny

* Grease three 20cm cake tins and fill half way

* Gently tap the cake tins/batter on your worktop to flatten and release any air bubbles stuck at the top

* Bake for approximately 45 mins, on 180C fan assisted or Gas Mark 4

* Refrigerate the cakes for approximately 1 hour, using this time to create the frosting





* Beat together the butter and Peanut Butter until a smooth, thick paste forms

* Gradually mix in the icing sugar, one cup at a time until it is fully combined

* Slowly fold in the double cream, mixing well until you have the consistency of buttercream

* Add salt and set aside in a cool place but do not refrigerate







* Place your cake board onto a turntable 

* Using a cake leveller, cut each sponge down to the same height

* Place a small dab of frosting in the middle of the cake board and place your first cake layer on top

* Using a 1cm round nozzle, pipe a thick line of frosting on top of your cake around the edge,  creating a solid 'wall' which leaves naked sponge in the middle

* Spread a generous layer of caramel onto the naked sponge

* Layer peanut butter frosting on top of the caramel ensuring it is level and the same height as your "wall"

* Place the next cake on top and ensure it is in line with the first by kneeling down so that it is at eye level. Slowly spin the turntable around and adjust accordingly

* Repeat all steps for the remaining third layer


Decorating the Outside


* Using your plain tip nozzle, pipe a rough layer of frosting onto the outside of the cake

* Lay your palette knife vertically against the cake and push gently into the frosting, until you can just feel the sponges

* Using the turntable as a guide, pull your knife around the cake slowly until you have a crumb coat. Do the same for the top and neaten any edges

* Using your plain tip nozzle, pipe a generous layer of frosting onto the cake in a zig zag pattern, starting from the bottom and going up

* Gently spread the frosting around using the palette knife

* Place your cake smoother gently against the cake and spin the turntable, slowly pulling the frosting to create a smooth, even layer 

* Using leftover frosting, top the cake evenly and create fairly smooth edges

* Refrigerate for 30 minutes until very cold

* Make the ganache





* Gently heat the cream until it starts to boil and bubbles form around the edge

* Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate drops 50g at a time, until they have all melted

* Chill for 15-25 minutes. The ganache needs to be completely cool, but still liquid enough to pour


* Fill a large piping bag half way with ganache and tie off the top

* Place the bag over the edge of the cake and snip off the end. Allow enough ganache to run out so that it forms a drip down the side of the cake

* Pipe the ganache along the top of the cake until you are ready to create your next drip

* Once all of the drips are done, squeeze the ganache onto the top of the cake and push it gently towards the line of ganache you have already created

* Allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes

* Using a 1cm open star nozzle, hold the piping bag slightly above the edge of the cake and push firmly, lifting gently at the end to create a nice peak

* Top with Salted Caramel popcorn, chocolate drops and caramel drizzle

* Enjoy!

































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