Popcorn Bucket Cake

Award season is here! I watched parts of the Golden Globes last night, and couldn’t help but gawk at all the gorgeousness stuffed in one room. Unfortunately for them, none of those women have probably indulged in a piece of cake for months, so as much I as I envy them at times, I could never give up my sweet tooth! And with that, I bring you this Popcorn Cake. And no, not a cake made of real popcorn, but a cake fashioned to look a lot like a bucket of popcorn. Not perfect, but if you squint really hard, you might just smell some butter.

My friend Kristen is quite a fondant-extraordinaire and for her birthday we embarked on this cake making adventure together. We baked the cake in the giant Wilton cupcake pan I also used for my birthday last year, and used cake mix and canned frosting so we could focus more on the decorating and less on the baking. While the cake was in the oven, we worked on making the popcorn out of mini-marshmallows, an idea inspired by popcorn cupcakes in the book Hello, Cupcake. You simply cut one mini marshmallow in thirds, make a 3 leaf clover arrangement with the pieces, and glue a whole mini marshmallow on top with frosting. Instead of buying a pack of pastel mini-marshmallows and picking out the yellow ones, we painted some yellow with a mixture of yellow food coloring and water. But I suggest using vodka so that the liquid dries faster, because some of our “kernels” got pretty soggy. Plus if you’re making this for a party for adults, it’ll be that much more fun :)

Kristen made the fondant herself — it’s really not that hard and it’ll save you tons of money as fondant is, in my opinion, wayyy overpriced in craft stores. Not to mention it tastes 100x better than store-bought because it’s mainly a combination of powdered sugar and marshmallows. We got a little lazy with the red fondant by the end, and could have rolled it out thinner to make it lay smoother on the underlying white, but we still got the overall look we were going for. For the best results, alternate white and red strips, rather than red strips on top of a white background so that the stripes are completely flush with each other. But for the sake of time, we just wrapped the base in white and slapped some red stripes on it. Kristen and I had a lot of fun making this cake, and I think it would be a huge hit for your Oscar party next month :)

Popcorn Bucket Cake
For the cake:
1 box cake mix
2 cans of frostingFor the fondant:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1, 16 oz package of mini marshmallows
4 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs powdered sugar

For the “popcorn”:
1, 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows
1/4 cup vodka + few drops of yellow food coloring

– The night before you plan on building the cake, make the fondant by first placing the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 45 seconds to start melting them.
– Stir the water and vanilla into the hot marshmallows until smooth.
– Add the sugar slowly and beat together until the dough is well combined but sticky. Reserve 1 cup of sugar for kneading.
– Using the butter to grease your hands, sprinkle the fondant with powdered sugar and begin kneading the sticky dough for 5-10 minutes. This should help make the dough more pliable and no longer sticky.
– Divide the fondant so that 2/3 is set aside to stay white, and take 1/3 of it to dye red. Add the food coloring onto the ball of fondant and knead it until the color is uniform. I would recommend wearing latex gloves for this part to avoid dying your fingers. Also keep in mind that the color will deepen overnight, so your red will get darker if you’re worried it’s too pink.
– Form the white and red fondant into 2 separate balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

– The next day, prepare and bake the cake in a giant cupcake pan according to the package’s instructions.
– While the cake is baking and cooling, work on making the popcorn. Cut one mini marshmallow into thirds and arrange the 3 pieces like a 3-leaf clover. Use a dab of frosting to attach a whole mini marshmallow to the top of the clover, and set aside to dry. You’ll need a lot of them, but once you get into a groove (especially if you have a helper) it’s not so bad.
– Mix together the vodka and yellow food coloring in a small bowl and use a paintbrush to paint half of the popcorns yellow. Don’t paint the whole thing — just give a few accent brush strokes to each and leave some of them white to create some contrast.
– Roll out the fondant so that it is about 1/4″ thick and cut stripes of either both the red and white, or just the red.
– Once the cake is cooled, start by frosting the bottom half of the cake first. You can either cover the entire bottom in white fondant and glue the red stripes on top of it, or make red and white stripes of fondant and attach them next to each other. Use frosting to securely attach the fondant to the cake, or to the fondant underneath.
– Pipe a thick layer of frosting on top of the bottom layer, and place the top layer on top.
– Frost the top layer once it’s placed, and start attaching the popcorn kernels — you may or may not need extra frosting to attach them. Try to overlap them and alternate yellow and white to create a natural looking pile of popcorn.


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19 Responses to “Popcorn Bucket Cake”

  1. #
    theblogisthenewblack — January 17, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    Weird- I printed out the cupcake version of this recipe last week, but ran out of time to make it for it’s intended purpose. I like the idea of one big cake! Came out great!

  2. #
    Kall — January 17, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

    Erica, this is precious! So fun — hope second year is going amazing!

  3. #
    Haley — January 17, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    This cake is the cutest! I love it :) I wouldn’t give up sweets like those superstars either!

  4. #
    bridget {bake at 350} — January 18, 2011 @ 2:23 am

    This is just darling!!!

  5. #
    Katie DeYoung — January 19, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

    I am very excited to come across this post. My daughter is having a “Pajama Party” 6th birthday party in February and I have been trying to come up with a themed cake to go along with what we’re doing. A movie with popcorn in popcorn buckets is on the agenda, so I’d say this cake is perfect! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  6. #
    Natalie — January 20, 2011 @ 3:20 am

    you never cease to amaze me!!!

  7. #
    MizCreativelyMe — January 27, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

    how creative!

  8. #
    Tanja — February 2, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    Too bad I can’t get mini marshmallows anywhere :(

  9. #
    giaghani — February 8, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    this is such an adorable idea! LOOOVEE it! :)

  10. #
    Just Jen — September 25, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    Oh my goodness! I have been browsing your blog, you are one talented lady! throughly enjoying learning from you. thanks so much for sharing your talent

  11. #
    Trish — December 3, 2011 @ 1:09 am

    I absolutely LOVE this cake. I need someone’s birthday to come up so I can make it :)

  12. #
    Anonymous — December 10, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    GREAT ideas, thank you for sharing :)

  13. #
    Stacy — October 11, 2013 @ 8:11 am

    Wonderful popcorn cake, so inventive! I’ve featured it on my latest post of ‘Brilliant Birthday Cakes’ on my party blog. http://www.stylemyparty.co.uk/blog/brilliant-birthday-cakes/
    Stacy x

  14. #
    Christina — April 9, 2014 @ 11:54 pm

    Wow!! Marshmellow fondant!

  15. #
    DustinX — June 25, 2017 @ 5:11 pm

    I must say you have very interesting content here.
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