I like that.
- Birthday Cake Crumb
- Birthday Cake
- Birthday Cake Soak
- Birthday Cake Crumb
Each component has different quantities of the same sets of ingredients, so it's best to split them up into four different recipes and then combine them into one "putting-it-all-together" recipe at the end. Some of the ingredients are hard to find (glucose -- I found mine at Michaels), a little gross to think about (glucose, corn syrup, baking powder, and shortening in frosting? yuck), and just weird (the recipe calls for clear "fake" vanilla extract to mimic Pillsbury Funfetti flavor). Try not to think about what you're eating too much. That's never any fun. Just go with it. It all comes together. I promise.
Although the recipes are ordered differently in the cookbook, I've posted them in my blog in the order I think makes the most sense when you're putting the final end result together. My advice? Read each recipe carefully to make sure you have all the ingredients you need ready and that you know what you're doing. Note that the final cake needs to be frozen for a minimum of 12 hours (overnight is best) and after that, thawed for at least 3 hours before it can be eaten. If you're making this for a party, make it the day (or several days) before. Most importantly, try not to panic when building the layers. Hold on for the ride.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for the most epic birthday cake you will ever eat. For serious.
Funfetti Birthday Layer Cake
(adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook)
Birthday Cake Crumb Recipe
(makes about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon clear (fake!) vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 300 (F).
- 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.
- Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as a glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens.
- Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool.
- Let the crumbs cool completely before using. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer. I suggest you make these babies a day ahead of when you actually want to make the birthday cake/soak/frosting to save time.
Birthday Cake Recipe
(makes 1 quarter sheet pan cake)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons clear (fake!) vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
- Heat the oven to 350 (F).
- Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
- On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don't rush the process -- there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt and the 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking oil and line it with parchment or a Silpat mat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the cake should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn't pass these tests.
- Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Birthday Cake Soak Recipe
(makes 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon clear (fake!) vanilla extract
- Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
Birthday Cake Frosting Recipe
(makes 2 cups)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 oz. cream cheese, cold
- 1 tablespoon glucose
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon clear (fake!) vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- a pinch of baking powder
- a pinch of citric acid
- Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on its lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla. Crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Crank the speed back up on medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting. It should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store.
All right. You still with me? Just wanted to check in and see if you had been scared away. I know this cake is kind of a process. I can hear you wondering if it's even worth it. But it is. Because here comes the fun part. Now we get to build those pretty, decadent layers you've been seeing in the pictures:
I normally don't do step-by-step pictures for my recipe steps, but this was such a process that it merited its own photography session. Momofuku Milk Bar's cookbook is also severely flawed in that the book doesn't have large, full-blown pictures of the process -- I decided to try and remedy this by providing my own. Sometimes reading written instructions really doesn't cut it.
Admittedly, these photos aren't great -- I don't know how the bloggers who have picture tutorials manage to bake and take photos at the same time! I kept panicking that I was going to cover my camera in something gross. So sorry about the mediocre photos -- it was quite difficult switching back and forth between the two.
So, here goes. And remember not to panic. This'll work. I promise.
Putting It All Together (Finally):
Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Layer Cake
(makes one 6-inch layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 - 8)
- 1 recipe Birthday Cake (from above)
- 1 recipe Birthday Cake Soak (from above), divided in half
- 1 recipe Birthday Cake Frosting (from above), divided into fifths
- 1 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb (from above), divided into thirds
- parchment paper or a Silpat mat big enough to hold a 6 inch cake
- 1 6-inch cake ring
- pastry brush
- 2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long*
To build a giant, 9-inch tall acetate sheet. In retrospect, I should have whittled this puppy down to 6-inches, since the super tall plastic wall made frosting the layers incredibly difficult and messy. But I do recommend taping two acetate sheets together in general, as opposed to stressing out trying to find 20-inch long acetate sheets.
Prepping the Layers
Use the cake ring to measure out two full circles and two half circles in the cake:
Then stamp out the 2 circles and half circles:
The remaining cake "scrap" and 2 half circles will come together to make the bottom of the cake.
Layering the Layers
Put the two half circle scraps in the ring, like so:
And fill the remaining gap between the two with the remaining cake scraps:
You're going to have more cake scraps than can fit in the gap. Simply take the excess cake scraps and press them down into the cake layer, using the back of your hand to achieve a flat and even layer:
Okay, maybe not, but close enough.
Next, dunk a pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half the soak:
Sprinkle one-third of the birthday crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place:
Use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs:
Next, set one of your cake rounds on top of the frosting. If one of your cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here for the middle and save the prettier round for the top layer. Repeat the process above.
When it's completed, nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. By this point, you should have a fairly tall cake:
With those famous Milk Bar layers:
Cover the top of the cake with the final fifth of the frosting. Garnish the frosting with remaining birthday crumbs:
Transfer the cake and the sheet pan that it's on to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling.
At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer, and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring:
This was actually more difficult than I anticipated. The cake/acetate sheets were stuck around the cake ring pretty hard, so I ended up taking a knife and running it between the acetate sheet and the cake ring, and then pushing the cake base up and letting the cake ring slide down my arm. Sorry I don't have visuals of this, I couldn't really take photos of the process as I had my hands full.
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 before serving.
And now, enjoy!