Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake
This cake is truly magical. Not only is it totally delicious but its whimsical look made it the perfect choice for Henry’s 1 year photo shoot and smash cake session. (He won’t be 1 until April, but I wanted to get some good shots for his party invitation.) So, back to the cake. It’s basically a gourmet cake made to taste like a boxed cake – but much tastier. It’s got all the right hints of salty sweetness and the crunchy layer in between makes it really unique. Plus, who doesn’t like funfetti? This cake requires some tools and ingredients that you might not normally have in your pantry, i.e. acetate, glucose, citric acid – but they’re essential to recreating this specific cake created by and made famous by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar bakery in NYC.
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles, divided
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) salted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
- 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract
BIRTHDAY CAKE FROSTING
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon glucose
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 tbl McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- pinch baking powder (really just use a pinch or the frosting will taste strange)
- pinch citric acid (again, just use a pinch because too much will make the frosting taste too tangy)
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a rimmed quarter sheet pan by spraying with cooking spray and covering the base with a sheet of parchment. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1/4 cup sprinkles in a small bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside for later.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Add the eggs (all at once) and then beat again on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the wet ingredients (buttermilk, canola oil, and imitation vanilla) in a steady stream. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for another 4 to 6 minutes. The mixture should double in size and turn practically white. Don’t stop mixing until the mixture is completely homogeneous, with no visible streaks of oil or fat.
- With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, and mix for another minute or so until the ingredients are just combined.
- Pour out the batter into the prepared sheet pan, spreading it out into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbl of sprinkles.
- Bake for 30–35 minutes until the cake bounces back slightly when gently pressed in the corner. The center of the cake should no longer jiggle when the pan is shook. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or piece of parchment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix on low speed until combined.
- Stream in the oil and the imitation vanilla on low speed and continue beating the mixture until the ingredients clump and form small clusters.
- Carefully spread the clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes, breaking up occasionally. They will be slightly moist but will harden as they cool. Let them cool completely before using.
- Whisk together the milk and vanilla extract and set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and the cream cheese for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
- Add the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and glossy white.
- Add the powdered sugar, baking powder, and citric acid on low speed until just combined. Crank the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is stark white and fluffy.
- Invert the birthday cake onto a sheet of parchment paper or silpat, and peel off the parchment paper backing. Using the 6-inch cake ring, stamp out two circles from the cake. These will be the top and middle layers. The remaining cake “scrap’ will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
- Clean the cake ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat atop a baking sheet. Use one strop of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even later.
- Dunk the pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
- Spread one fifth of the birthday cake frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the birthday cake crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. Top with another fifth of the birthday cake frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the crumbs.
- With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5-6 inches tall- high enough to support the height of th finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one fifth of the frosting, one third of the cake crumbs, and another one fifth of the frosting.
- Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for the perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs.
- Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)
- Three hours before serving, pull the pan from the freezer, and using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
Source: Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook