Are you ready for another Momofuku Milk Bar cake?
I’d almost given up on getting this posted. I made this for Miriam’s 5th birthday. Early Last summer. As in, almost a year ago. It got to the point where I almost decided it was too late to post it. But then a friend reminded me that there is no expiration date for cake. Wiser words were never spoken.
So here it is: The Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake. Like the Carrot Layer Cake, this has several components. But this one is a little simpler, at least in my opinion. And remember that, like the carrot cake, most of the components can be made in advance.
This cake is an homage to the birthday cake that so many of us grew up with—funfetti cake from a box mix topped with canned frosting. Except better. A whole lot better.
Miriam really wanted butterflies on her cake. I’m not really a cake decorator, so I totally winged it (pun sooo not intended!)—I rolled out some gum paste, cut out butterflies with cookie cutters, and painted them with food coloring. Along with some twirly candles, it made for a fun, bright, whimsical cake—so perfect for her!
Birthday Layer Cake
55 g (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
60 g (1/3 cup) vegetable shortening
250 g ( 1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
50 g (3 tablespoons tightly packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
110 g (1/2 cup) buttermilk
65 g (1/3 cup) grapeseed oil
8 g (2 teaspoons) clear vanilla extract
245 g (2 cups) cake flour
6 g ( 1 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
3 g ( 3/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
50 g (1/4 cup) rainbow sprinkles
Nonstick cooking spray
25 g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Don’t rush the process—there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. On very low speed, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and the 50 g (1/4 cup) sprinkles. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 25 g (2 tablespoons) sprinkles over the top of the batter.
6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger. The cake should bounce back slightly, and the center should no longer jiggle. If the cake is not ready, leave in the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until done.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Or if you’re in a rush, you can put it in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly. The cooled cake can be store in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 5 days.
Makes 1 quarter sheet cake
Birthday Cake Soak
55 g (1/4 cup) whole milk
4 g (1 teaspoon) clear vanilla extract
Whisk the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
Birthday Cake Frosting
115 g (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 g (1/4 cup) vegetable shortening
55 g (2 ounces) cream cheese
25 g (1 tablespoon) glucose
18 g (1 tablespoon) corn syrup
12 g (1 tablespoon) clear vanilla extract
200 g (1 1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
0.25 g (pinch) baking powder
0.25 g (pinch) citric acid (sour salt)
1. Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. With the mixer on the lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until very white and smooth. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Makes about 430 g (2 cups)
Birthday Cake Crumb
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
25 g (1 1/2 tablespoons tightly packed) light brown sugar
90 g (3/4 cup) cake flour
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
20 g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles
40 g (1/4 cup) grapeseed oil
12 g (1 tablespoon) clear vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until well combined.
3. Add the oil and vanilla, and mix until small clusters form.
4. Spread the clusters on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally.
5. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely—the clusters with harden when cool. Store in an airtight container 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
makes about 275 g (2 1/4 cups)
Assembling the Birthday Layer Cake
1 recipe Birthday Cake (above)
1 recipe Birthday Cake Soak (above)
1 recipe Birthday Cake Frosting (above)
1 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb
2 (3″ by 20″) acetate strips
1. Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment. Use the cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake, as if you were using a giant cookie cutter (you can see a picture of my doing this for the carrot layer cake near the bottom of THIS post). These will be your to two cake layers. the bottom cake layer will be made from the remaining scraps.
2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a clean piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan or cutting board. Line the inside of the cake ring with one acetate strip.
3. Put the cake scraps into the ring, and use the back of your hand to push the scraps into an even layer.
4. Using a pastry brush, apply a good amount of the birthday cake soak (the recipe calls for using half the soak, but I found that to be too much—it leaked out of the bottom of the cake).
5. Use the back of a spoon to spread 1/5 of the frosting in an even layer over the cake.
6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the birthday crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to pat them in place.
7. Use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second acetate strip between the cake ring and the top 1/4 of the first strip, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for the first layer (soak, frosting, crumbs, frosting).
9. Top with the remaining cake round. Cover with the last fifth of the frosting. Garnish with the remaining birthday crumbs.
10. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake can remain frozen like this for up to 2 weeks.
11. At least 3 hours before you want to serve the cake, remove the cake from the freezer. Using your fingers and thumbs (pushing on the bottom of the cake to push it up), pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate strips, and transfer the cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
The cake can be kept in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
*Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi