Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake Dupe
It’s summer. It’s time to eat sweets and sit on a patio. It’s also coming up on the wedding and we’re working out what kind of cake we want. I loooove to bake and to decorate cakes, so I decided to set myself a challenge this week by recreating the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake. I love Milk Bar and go there every time that I'm in New York (not often enough!). Crack pie? Amazing. I found a recipe online that looked pretty close and set out to make it work. Here begins the sad story.
The recipe I used was from Bon Appetit here.
First steps -- you gotta bake the cake. This is a pretty standard funfetti cake recipe, baked in a sheet pan and then cut into rounds. This cake is originally a six-inch round, but I only had an 8-inch springform pan, so I used that. As a result, mine is wider and shorter than the original. I also had to run to Walmart for cake flour. Not normal flour. No, that would be too easy.
Cakes out of the oven, it was time to work on the crumbles -- the crunchy bits on the top of the cake, and also tucked inside. This was essentially cake batter without eggs, on a cookie sheet to harden up. These, because they are baked, and have a high oil content, will burn the fuck out of your fingers...my fingers...even after they should be cool. Strike two.
Last step, making the frosting. The amount of frosting this called for was, in my opinion, not enough, and it needed more, so I ended up doubling the recipe. The recipe even says to beat the shit out of this (thanks Kitchenaid!) until it looks like it came from a can. Now why in the hell am I spending an hour making something that looks like it came from a can? Do you know what would work just as well? Buying a can of frosting. #BettyCrocker.
Here's where it gets complicated. The assembly! In the springform pan, the cake gets layered, rimmed with a bunch of acetate to get a clean-edge look. Cake, milk, frosting, crumbles, cake, milk, frosting, crumbles, cake, milk, frosting, crumbles. Three whole layers. The cake is also super light and fluffy and breaks apart every chance it gets. Cue the frustrated swearing and yelling at your husband to GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN.
Finally, reveal your masterpiece!
I was not the most impressed with how this looked. I've made better-looking cakes before, but that unfinished look is what Milk Bar does, so I'm rolling with it. What I was mostly unhappy with was...the taste. I like a Milk Bar cake, but I was a little (a lot) upset that I spent essentially an entire afternoon creating icing and cake from scratch and freezing and layer and dunking and cutting...for it to taste the same as a Pillsbury box cake. This was because the recipe calls for things like corn syrup and about half a bottle of artificial vanilla flavor (no exaggeration). If you're up for the challenge, it does work, or you can buy a box of cake mix and a can of frosting at Walmart and spend 20 minutes trying to make it look gorgeous. I am a fan of the can.
The moral of the story? Pick a cake with less artificial flavoring and more style. Or, you know, just buy a grocery store cake. That shit is already done for you.