I tried wearing tight jeans, but I couldn’t pull them off.
I have wanted to make a Momofuku Milk Bar cake since I bought the cookbook 3 years ago.
I purchased the 6 inch cake cutter. I bought acetate cake strips. I picked up clear vanilla extract.
Then I didn’t make a cake.
I don’t know why I was so intimidated by the cakes in the cookbook. Maybe it was the lengthly recipes with multiple components. Certainly having never worked with acetate made me worried about how difficult it would be. Then Christina Tosi showed up as a judge on Master Chef this year and I feared that I could never make one of her creations.
What an idiot I have been.
This Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake is one of the best looking and best tasting cakes I have ever made…and one of the easiest.
Sure, there are lots of steps to create all of the components. But all of the steps are super easy. Plus, so much can be done ahead of time that the cake can come together in a very relaxing manner if you choose.
I started the cake at 1:30pm. All of the components were extremely straightforward to prepare. The acetate was a breeze to work with. The entire cake was all assembled and ready to set in the freezer by 4 pm. Even though the original directions say to freeze for a minimum of 12 hours, my cake was easy to unmold after 2 hours.
So, what did it taste like?
It tastes like you would imagine a birthday cake flavored cake to taste like.
The funfetti cake layers were incredibly moist from a vanilla milk soak that is applied after baking. The icing is silky and absolutely over the top fantastic. Then there is the gritty, salty-sweet birthday cake crumbs which add an impossibly addictive crunch to the cake. (Whereas I adored the crumbs, my kids were not as enchanted by them. They were not crazy about the texture.)
I can’t wait to try more Momofuku Milk Bar recipes now that my confidence has been restored.
Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake
Birthday Funfetti Cake (recipe follows)
1 cup Birthday Cake Crumbs (recipe follows)
Birthday Cake Soak (recipe follows)
Birthday Cake Icing (recipe follows)
Special equipment: 6″ cake ring (buy here) and a strip of acetate (cake collar), cut to fit the cake ring (buy the cake collars here)
1. Place a piece of parchment on a baking tray.
2. Use cake ring to punch out two 6″ rounds from cake. These are your top 2 cake layers (the remaining cake scraps will form the bottom layer of the cake).
3. Place the cake ring on the parchment lined baking tray. Line with the acetate strip.
4. Place cake scraps inside ring and press scraps together into a flat, even layer. (A little messy is just fine).
5. Dip a pastry brush in the Birthday Cake Soak and use half of it to generously moisten the base layer.
6. Use the back of a spoon to spread about 3 tablespoons icing evenly over cake. Sprinkle ⅔ cup birthday crumbs evenly over icing and press them in place. Spread another 3 tablespoons of icing as evenly as possible over crumbs.
7. Top with a cake round. Brush layer with remaining soak mixture. Repeat frosting-crumb layering process.
8. Place remaining cake round on top. Frost top of cake with remaining icing. Top with remaining birthday crumbs.
9. Transfer cake to freezer and freeze at least 2-3 hours to set cake and filling.
10. At least 3 hours before serving the cake, remove from freezer. Gently lift the cake ring off of the cake. Carefully peel off acetate and transfer cake to a serving platter or stand. Defrost in fridge at least 3 hours.
Do ahead: Cake will keep up to 2 weeks in freezer or 5 days in refrigerator.
Makes one (three layer) 6″ cake
Birthday Funfetti Cake
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups cake flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles, divided
½ cup buttermilk
⅓ cup grapeseed oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1¼ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 10 × 15-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and ¼ cup sprinkles in a large bowl.
3. Combine buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
4. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat shortening, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.
5. With mixer on low, add buttermilk mixture until incorporated. Increase speed to high and continue to beat mixture until almost doubled in volume and very light and pale colored, about 4 minutes.
6. Add dry ingredients, beating until just combined, about 1 minute.
7. Spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sprinkles.
8. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a tester inserted into center comes out clean.
9. Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack. Invert cake onto rack then peel off parchment.
Do ahead: The cooled cake, wrapped in plastic, can be stored in fridge up to 5 days.
Birthday Cake Crumbs
¾ cup cake flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup grapeseed oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine flour, sugars, sprinkles, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. Add oil and vanilla and mix until clumps form when mixture is pressed together. Spread onto prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake, stirring occasionally, until crumbs are light golden brown and crunchy, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Makes about 2 1/4 cups
Do ahead: Store crumbs in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or 1 month in the freezer.
Birthday Cake Icing
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract (Definitely use the clear so that the icing has that lovely, bright white color)
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. Combine butter, shortening, and cream cheese in large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until mixture is smooth and fluffy, 2–3 minutes.
2. Scrape down sides of bowl and slowly stream in corn syrup and vanilla. Beat until mixture is silky smooth and glossy white, about 3 minutes.
3. With mixer on low, add confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon juice until just combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until icing is very smooth and bright white, about 4 minutes.
Do ahead: Icing can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week.
Birthday Cake Soak
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1. Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
Recipes from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi
A fabulous cake deserves a fantastic song.
I don’t know what it is about “It’s Not About (You)” that makes me go so crazy, but I’m so thankful for it. That slow down at the 2 minute mark is the kind of thing I live for.