Saturday, January 7, 2012

Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake for my 30th


Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake

On Tuesday, I turned thirty, as in the big three-zero! I wouldn't say I was completely freaked out about it. Not completely. I was definitely mildly worried. But, when the clock struck midnight, and it was officially the 3rd of January, nothing happened. I was just officially in my thirties. That's all. It was kind of anti-climactic, and not really worth the cold sweats and heart palpitations that I had been experiencing, randomly, in the days leading up to the 3rd.


Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake


Facebook and twitter friends wished me a happy birthday, my dad even called me from work. My mom took me out for a warming lunch of hand-pulled ramen and soup (since it was minus a million outside), and Lynn took me out for a dinner of hot chocolate and waffles. It made me feel like quite the lucky thirty-year-old. By the end of the day, I was even excited to be thirty. Two days later, I had a fabulous Italian meal with friends and family to officially celebrate the event. I've been truly spoiled to the point that I think being thirty is pretty wonderful!

Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake


As I let go of my twenties (good riddance!), I obviously had to bake myself a birthday cake to celebrate the occasion. I didn't just bake any old cake. Instead, I opted to make THE Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake from Christina Tosi's new book. I think this is the perfect cake to say good-bye to my twenties, and to greet my thirties. It's fun, and maybe a little whimsical, full of brightly colored sprinkles, and birthday cake crumbs.

Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake


Since in my early twenties, I had a soft-spot for cake mix vanilla and sprinkle cake topped with a generous swirl of that sprinkle frosting in a can, this was the perfect recipe for me. The cake was designed to taste like the typical "funfetti" birthday cake that many of us ate to celebrate the years of our youth. This recipe brings cake from a box and frosting from a can to a whole other level. With every bite, you can pick out the sweet, salty, and sour notes. The crumbs bring a surprising crispy element to the usual creamy texture of frosting.

Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake


The recipe is brilliant and inspiring, but if you want to bake this cake (or anything from the Momofuku Milk Bar book), you will need to go shopping. I found a 6-inch cake ring (I actually used the ring of a springform pan) and liquid glucose (Wilton brand) at a local baking supply store. I purchased the acetate sheets at an office supply store, and the citric acid at a bulk store. The sprinkles came from the grocery store, along with the usual flour, milk, sugar, butter, and eggs. I made this cake a day ahead, and it took me maybe half a day to make, so it's really not more time-consuming than any other cake recipe, once you have all the ingredients and equipment. I froze the assembled cake overnight to set the layers, then unmolded it and placed it on a cake stand in the fridge for several hours to slowly defrost. When you cut into it, use a giant chef's knife to make quick, clean slices, otherwise, you will end up with a mess as the cake crumbs will tear through the delicate cake.

I'm giving the recipe in grams because that's how I made it. The instructions are not identical to those in the book because there are certain things that I do differently. The book recipe is also published in the Huffington Post in cups and grams. Better yet, if you love making cakes, buy the book. It's a great investment full of insight and tips.

Special thanks to Mayssam for sending me a copy of this book. I love it!

Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake


Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake    Makes one 6-inch birthday cake

Birthday cake crumbs
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 25 grams light brown sugar
  • 90 grams cake and pastry flour
  • 2 grams baking powder
  • 2 grams salt
  • 20 grams rainbow sprinkles
  • 40 grams grapeseed oil
  • 12 grams vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles and mix them on low speed until they are evenly mixed.
  3. Add the oil and the vanilla and continue beating the mixture until the ingredients clump and form small clusters.
  4. Carefully spread the delicate clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes. They dry and harden as the cool into crispy crumbs. Let them cool completely before using them. By the time you've made the cake and frosting, they will be ready to be used anyways.
Birthday cake
  • Pam or vegetable oil for preparing the pan
  • 245 grams cake and pastry flour
  • 6 grams baking powder
  • 3 grams salt
  • 50 grams rainbow sprinkles
  • 55 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 60 grams vegetable shortening
  • 250 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 110 grams buttermilk (made from skim milk and white vinegar)
  • 65 grams grapeseed oil
  • 8 grams vanilla extract
  • 25 grams rainbow sprinkles

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature). Prepare a rimmed quarter sheet pan (mine is a 10-x15-inch pan with a 1-inch rim) by spraying it all over with Pam and then covering the base with a sheet of parchment. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 50 grams of sprinkles in a small bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside for later.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and the sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the eggs (all at once) and then beat again on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. In a 1-cup measurer, weigh out the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients in a steady stream. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for another 4 to 6 minutes. The mixture will double in size almost, and will appear light and fluffy. There will be no trace of oil left.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, and mix for another minute or so until the ingredients are all combined.
  7. Pour out the batter into the prepared sheet pan, spreading it out into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 25 grams of rainbow sprinkles.
  8. 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.
Birthday cake soak
  • 55 grams milk (I used whole milk—3.25% fat)
  • 4 grams vanilla extract

  1. Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small cup or bowl. Set aside for later.
Birthday cake frosting
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 2 grams salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • Pinch citric acid
  • 115 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 50 grams vegetable shortening
  • 55 grams cream cheese
  • 25 grams glucose
  • 18 grams clear corn syrup
  • 12 grams vanilla extract

  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid in a medium bowl. Set aside for later.
  2. In the bowl of an electric 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. Be sure to scrape down the bowl periodically.
  3. Add the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat the mixture on medium-high again, for 2 to 3 minutes until it is silky smooth and a little glossy. Scrape down the bowl a few times.
  4. Now add the whisked dry ingredients and incorporate them on low speed. Increase the mixer speed to medium–high and beat the frosting until it is creamy and fluffy, just like the kind that comes in a can.
Birthday cake assembly
  • 1 batch birthday cake
  • 1 batch birthday cake soak
  • 1 batch birthday cake frosting
  • 1 batch birthday cake crumbs
  • 4 8-x3-inch strips of acetate
  • 1 6-inch cake ring that is 3 inches high (or a springform ring)
  • 1 8-inch square of parchment

  1. Cut the sheet cake into two 6-inch circles plus two half-circles using your cake ring as a template. Use a spatula to gently loosen and lift (carefully!) the circles and set them aside.
  2. Place the cake ring on a baking sheet lined with the 8-inch square of parchment. Line the inner rim of the ring with two pieces of acetate so that they overlap a little.
  3. Fill the bottom of the ring with the two half circles of cake. Press them slightly so that they are even. If there are any holes, fill them with the rest of the cake scraps.
  4. Brush half the birthday cake soak over the base of cake.
  5. Spread about 100 mL (one-fifth) of the birthday cake frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the birthday cake crumbs, pressing them gently into the frosting. Top with another 100 mL (another fifth) of the birthday cake frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the crumbs.
  6. Top with a full circle of cake, brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with more frosting, cake crumbs, and another layer of frosting.
  7. Squeeze in the other two strips of acetate between the inner rim of the ring and the first acetate strips (you are essentially making your cake ring taller at this point). Top with the last circle of cake. and the remaining frosting, spread evenly. Top with the remaining cake crumbs.
  8. Freeze the cake as is for at least 12 hours to set everything and making the unmolding process much easier.
  9. Three hours before serving, retrieve the pan from the freezer, and gently push the cake through the ring. Place it on a cake stand or cake plate. Now gently pull off the acetate ribbons.
  10. Let the cake defrost in the fridge before serving. Cut neatly with a large chef's knife.



53 comments:

  1. colourful delicious looking cake
    happy birthday

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  2. This is so beautiful and I am sure super deliciouse ...my next weekend adventure :) thanks for sharing another amazing recipe and dreamy pictures :)

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  3. This is an amazing post. Lots of effort but definitely well worth it. Happy birthday and thanks for sharing this delicious recipe! Stunning pics.

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  4. I am a huge milk bar fan and their cakes are my favorite thing. This looks amazing! Happy Birthday:-)

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  5. Looks to die for!! I've never been to momofuku or any other milk bar, I have to confess, but this looks fantastic. Happy belated Birthday!

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  6. The Momofuku Milk Bar has such fun and creative recipes. These pictures are worthy of print. I have been debating about getting the book for a while but now I know I need to have it. Happy Birthday!

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  7. I've heard a lot about the Milk Bar lately, but I've never seen a recipe come out of it. I totally understand the appeal now - I'm totally a fan of old school funfetti, but this is so much better. Thanks for sharing - I may have to pick up the book!

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  8. I am so glad you made the classic birthday cake, just delightful! I've admired the recipe but have yet to attempt making it.

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  9. I'm so glad you made this cake, it looks absolutely gorgeous! What a perfect way to celebrate your birthday! :)

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  10. Happy belated birthday! That is certainly the cake worthy of saying goodbye to your 20's.:)

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  11. What a unique and beautiful cake! A very happy 30th to you. I'm seeing 40 coming up and I'll be honest, I want to turn and run the other way! Hopefully it will pass as peacefully and happily as your 30th did for you. :)

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  12. This is so beautiful! I for the Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas and this cake is up there on my "Recipes To Try." Happy Birthday!

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  13. Happy late birthday! What a truly amazing cake you made yourself!!!!

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  14. this cake looks amazing. Happy Birthday.

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  15. Happy Birthday!
    Buzzed you! Amazing cake!

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  16. This looks yummy, hopefully someone will make me one for my birthday!!!

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  17. Happy belated birthday Janice! The cake looks absolutely amazing!

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  18. Happy Birthday! Mine was a few days later. 30 is pretty anticlimactic. I just got this book on my last visit home and I can't wait to try it - beautiful work!

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  19. OH MY GOD!!!! I am turning 30 in April and this looks like the perfect way to usher in my new decade.
    Happy belated birthday to you!!!

    www.bundtsofsteel.blogspot.com

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  20. I love that you tackled this cake! I have this cookbook and am so hooked on the crumbs! I made the birthday cake crumb, first thing (then made it into a single cupcake/muffin) (http://cupcakesaremylife.blogspot.com/2012/01/birthday-cake-cupcake-for-one.html)!
    I just made the malted milk crumb (http://cupcakesaremylife.blogspot.com/2012/01/milk-bar-malted-milk-crumb.html) and mixed it into cookie dough and it was amazing. I have been sprinkling them on frozen yogurt too. I'm hooked. Your cake turned out beautiful! Happy baking,
    Melissa www.treatswithatwist.com

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  21. Just a fyi - I think you have a typo for the frosting butter - should be 115 grams instead of 1115 grams :)

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    1. Oh! Thank you for catching that! 1115 grams of butter in the frosting would not have been as tasty....
      Fixed :)

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  22. Beautiful! It really reminds me of the cakes my mom made for my birthdays growing up, but with a more mature twist. Think I may have to actually try it out for my husband's upcoming birthday.

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  23. 30 was nothing, but now that I'm coming up on 40... That's a whole different ball game! Hope you had a great day to celebrate, and Happy Birthday!!

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  24. Really nice job. It looks beautiful. Even better than the pictures I've seen of the actual Momofuku Milk Bar's version. I'm going to try and make one for my son's birthday. With any luck it'll turn out half as nice as yours.

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  25. OMG! I made the cake with the 1155 grams of butter. I have frosting enough to frost 10 more cakes! I should have read the comments before making it. You really should fix your recipe. But it tastes delicious.

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    1. Oh no! I'm so sorry about that! It seems I replaced one typo with another. I'll be more careful next time! You could probably freeze the leftover frosting to save it.

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  26. Why the citric acid-can I skip it? Also all the shortening - hydrogenated fats-yikes ! Couldn't I substitute butter or even lard for the shortening?

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    1. The citric acid provides some tang to the frosting flavor without adding more liquid to it. You could use some lemon juice instead, and then add a little less milk to compensate. As for the shortening vs butter vs lard, I think the shortening is just a neutral-flavored fat that is a little softer than butter, even when chilled. I guess an all-butter frosting would work too. Good luck!

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  27. This cake is GORGEOUS and it looks soooo yummy!! I hope to try this in the future! xoxo

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  28. Could you tell me what size acetate sheets you used? I'm looking to make this cake over the weekend and did a Google search thinking I'd find a clear answer and I haven't found one - there are a million different sizes. I just can't map out in my head how tall the cake ends up being and therefore not sure what size I need. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Ben, I bought a pack of standard 8x11-inch sheets of acetate at an office supply store. I cut them into 8x4-inch strips. I used two sheets of acetate to make 4 strips (keeping the leftover acetate for future cake building...). I started by lining the inside of the cake ring with two strips, built up my first layers of cake, then slipped in another couple strips because the cake is much taller than my cake ring. I hope that helps! Good luck making this cake!

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  29. Hello! Can you tell me...is this a single serving cake? I wanted to make it for my husband & big sister's birthday and need to feed 5-6 people. I'm thinking this will be too small. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

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    1. This recipe makes a 6-inch diameter cake but it's actually quite tall (5+ inches high). It can serve up to 8 people, and it would definitely work if you are feeding 5-6 people. Let me know how it goes :)

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  30. This cake turned out amazing!!! AND I have 2 pieces leftover. Thank you so much for the recipe. I'm going to put the cake crumbs into ice cream this summer. This definitely blew my mind. Delicious!

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    1. Awesome! I'm so glad you liked it :)

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  32. Beautiful cake, i love milk bar!! Quick question- when you list the flour amounts, for example in the birthday cake layers, is it 245 grams total of cake and pastry flour, or 245 grams each of cake and pastry flour?

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    1. Thanks! In Canada, stores sell what is called "cake and pastry flour" instead of "cake flour" so that is what I used for the recipe. It's 245 grams total. Hope that helps!

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  33. Looks amazing!... I'm making the cookies from that same chapter for a friend's birthday soon!

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    1. Oh yum! I haven't tried the birthday cake cookies yet, but I bet they're awesome :)

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  34. I have the "Milk" cookbook and my son saw the birthday cake. He wants me to make this cake for his birthday this weekend. Your's turned out great! I hope I can pull it off. Glad I found your blog since you have some great tips. Thanks!

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  35. I'm speechless. That birthday cake looks AMAZING!! I'm going to have to make up a holiday/birthday/celebration just to make this soon. Thanks for sharing :)

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  36. your cake looks beautifullll ....i'm wondering where do you find glucose ? or if there is any substitute

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    1. Thanks! Wilton sells the glucose! You can order it on amazon. Here's a link to it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000VMAD4?ie=UTF8&tag=kitch02-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=211189&creativeASIN=B0000VMAD4&link_code=as3&creative=373489

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  37. Wow, what a beautiful cake. Thanks for sharing.

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  38. Looks great! Can't wait to try it! Do you have a version of this recipe in cups and tablespoons ? I converted it but I hope the measurements are right. If so can you email to me ?

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    1. It's available on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/12/birthday-cake_n_1144274.html
      Hope you enjoy the cake as much as I did, and please let me know how it turns out!

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  39. Where do you find grapeseed oil? What brand of rainbow sprinkles do you use?

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    1. Hi Carol,
      I honestly found the grapeseed oil at my local grocery store (Super C) and it was the grocery store brand (here's a link to a brand I've used in the past, on Amazon (http://amzn.to/16UsSef). As for the sprinkles, these Wilton jimmies are a good match to what I used (http://amzn.to/19laAqu). Hope this helps!

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  40. Is there any reason that you can't bake your cake in three, 6-inch cake pans? And if so, how would you adjust the batter, if at all? Thanks so much for putting this online. :-)

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    1. Hi S. E.
      If you made this cake in three 6-inch pans, you would definitely have thicker layers. I think one of the reasons that Milk Bar makes their cakes like this is that they really want to see the inside of the cake layer+the crumb (as opposed to the browned edge of a cake), and also, part of their process is turning the leftover cake trimmings into their cake truffles. Very smart. I would be difficult to guesstimate how much less batter you'd need to bake the layers in cake pans. You'd have to do some math, but it's not impossible (area of the sheet pan vs area of three 6-inch pans, assuming height of cake is constant therefore don't count it in the math, then scale down the recipe according to that number). Good luck :)

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