Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the four cake tins with greaseproof paper. In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and beat gently into the butter and sugar mixture, too much beating will cause the mixture to curdle.
Add the sieved flour and the vanilla essence and once thoroughly mixed, divide the mixture between the four tins.
Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
Whilst the cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream by creaming together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence until pale and fluffy.
Once the cakes are cooled, take the four cakes and slice off the tops to level them using a sharp knife. Sandwich the two 8” cakes together and cover with a layer of buttercream for the crumb coat.
Take the two 6” cakes and use a biscuit cutter to cut circles into the cakes approximately half way through the sponge. Using a spoon, scoop the sponge out from the middle of the cakes.
Fill the cavity in one of the sponges with popcorn then sandwich the two layers together with buttercream. Cover with a layer of buttercream and refrigerate both cakes for half an hour.
Meanwhile make the topping by melting the butter, sugar and cream together in a pan on a low heat. Stir until dissolved then turn up the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating until smooth. Set aside to cool.
To make the toffee shards, add the sugar and water to a pan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Boil for 6 minutes or until gold brown then pour onto a lined tray, tilting the tray to spread the mixture thinly. Allow to cool for one hour or until set.
After 30 minutes in the fridge, cover the 8” cake with a 2nd coat of buttercream using a ruler to get a smooth finish. Using a spoon, drip the toffee sauce around the edge of the cake, varying the amount of sauce poured to create different length drips. Fill in the top of the cake with toffee sauce.
Cover the 6” cake with a 2nd coat of buttercream and place on top of the 8” cake. Use the remaining toffee sauce to drip around the edges and cover the top of the cake.
Now it’s time for the final touches! Break the toffee into shards and stick into the top of the cake. Place the popcorn on the cake, you can use florist wire twirled around a pen and stuck into the popcorn for extra impact!