Cake of the Day: POP Cake

Donna Yen
·Assistant Food Editor

Pow! This cake packs a color punch not only on the outside but inside every slice. (Scroll down to see what we mean.) 

Marvel’s latest movie Avengers: The Age of Ultron hits theaters today, and what better way to celebrate than with a comic book-inspired dessert? This one comes from the Cake My Day by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Go ahead, and make anyone’s day with this POP Cake, because we’ve got the recipe below.

“POP ” Cake

Make your cake pop like comic-book art from the 1960s! The brightly colored melted-jelly design and the cubist-cake interior make this a real art statement!

Makes 24 servings

1 recipe Perfect Cake Mix batter (below) made with French vanilla cake mix
Yellow, neon pink, neon blue, black, and red food coloring (McCormick)
1 recipe Perfect Cake Mix batter (below) made with devil’s food cake mix
1 can (16 ounces) dark chocolate frosting
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
POP cake stencil
1 jar (18 ounces) apple jelly

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare three 8-inch round pans. Divide the French vanilla batter evenly among three bowls. Tint each bowl a different color by using the food coloring: bright yellow, bright pink, and bright blue. Stir the batter in each bowl to mix the color well.

Spoon one color of batter into each of the three prepared pans. Spread the batter to the edges, and smooth the tops. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Invert, remove the pans, and cool completely. Transfer the cakes to the freezer to chill, about 30 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Trim each chilled cake into a square by removing the browned, curved edges. Cut the cakes into 1-inch cubes and transfer to the cookie sheet. Transfer the cake cubes to the freezer and chill until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Spoon half of the devil’s food cake batter into the prepared pan. Spread the batter to the edges of the pan and smooth. Arrange the chilled cake cubes in alternating colors on top, pressing slightly into the batter (see photos). Spoon the remaining chocolate batter over the cubes to cover. Spread the batter to the edges and smooth the top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Invert, remove the pan, and cool completely.

Trim the top of the cake level. Place the cake, trimmed side down, on a cardboard cut to fit. Spread a thin crumb coating of the dark chocolate frosting on the sides of the cake and a thin crumb coating of vanilla frosting on top and smooth. Place the cake in the freezer until set, about 30 minutes.

Tint ¾ cup of the dark chocolate frosting black with the black food coloring. Spoon the black frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Spread the remaining vanilla frosting on top of the chilled cake and make as smooth as possible. Spread the remaining dark chocolate frosting around the sides of the cake and smooth. Transfer the cake to the freezer to chill, about 30 minutes.

Place the chilled cake on a serving platter. Make a copy of the template and enlarge it 200 percent. Using a toothpick, score the template design in the frosting on top of the cake.

Spoon ½ cup apple jelly into each of three microwavable bowls. Tint one red with the food coloring, one bright yellow, and one light neon blue. Divide the remaining ½ cup apple jelly into 2 microwavable bowls, leaving one cup plain and tinting the other dark yellow.

Snip a small (18-inch) corner from the bag with the black frosting. Following the score marks, pipe the outline of the shapes on top of the cake (the details will be piped on later).

Working with one color of jelly at a time, microwave the jelly in its bowl, stirring every 5 seconds, until smooth, about 20 seconds. If the melted jelly still has lumps, press the jelly through a fine-mesh strainer to smooth. Spoon the melted jelly into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a very small (116-inch) corner from the bag. Carefully squeeze some of the melted jelly inside the outlined areas to be filled (see the photos for color references), using a toothpick or a small craft brush to push the jelly into the small areas. Repeat the process with the remaining jellies. Refrigerate the cake to set the jelly, about 15 minutes.

Pipe the remaining details, dots, lines, and solid areas, including the exclamation point, with the black frosting.

Perfect Cake Mix
Makes 12 servings

1 box (16½  ounces) cake mix, such as yellow, French vanilla, devil’s food, red velvet, spice, strawberry, or banana
3 large eggs (or the number of eggs called for on the box)
1 cup buttermilk (in place of the water called for on the box)
⅓ cup vegetable oil (or the amount called for on the box)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of the pans with wax paper to fit and spray with vegetable cooking spray (bowls will not be paper-lined).

Following the box’s instructions, combine the cake mix, eggs, buttermilk, and oil in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat, scraping down the sides, until thick, 2 minutes longer (it makes about 5 cups batter).

Stop at this point for projects calling for Perfect Cake Mix batter and follow the instructions in the project. Otherwise, continue with the next step.

Divide the batter between the pans called for in the recipe, spread the batter to the edges, and smooth the tops. Follow the indicated baking times. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Invert, remove the pan(s) or bowl(s), and cool completely.

Cakes that are not used immediately may be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Jelly Painting
Painting with jelly is similar to flooding with frosting, except you use apple jelly in place of the frosting. When the tinted jelly firms up, it leaves behind a colorful coating like stained glass.

Frost the top of the cake and smooth. Make a copy of the template and enlarge it to fit the top of your cake.

Cut the template down to the first set of shapes and use a toothpick to score the outline into the frosting. Cut the template down in successive stages to reveal each set of shapes and continue to score the outline of the shapes into the frosting using a toothpick.

Snip a small (18-inch) corner from a ziplock bag of frosting. Pipe an outline all around the edge of the cake (this creates the dam for the melted jelly).

Tint the apple jelly to the desired color in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave the jelly following the recipe directions. Press the melted jelly through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lumps, if necessary.

Spoon the melted jelly into a freezer-weight ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a very small (116-inch) corner from the bag. Squeeze the jelly inside the outlined area, taking care not to overfill.

Use a small craft brush or a toothpick to ease the jelly up to the piped outline and into the small areas of the design.

Excerpted from Cake My Day!, by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 

More eye-POPping Cakes of the Day:

Earth Day Cake

Bunny Cake

Rainbow Cat Birthday Cake