Who says Funfetti Birthday Cake is for kids? This week was my incredible husband’s 38th birthday. His birthday cake request? Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Boring, I know. You see, he was raised on store bought confections. As with any childhood favorite, sometimes it’s hard to steer away from nostalgia and fall in love with something new.
I resorted to making a homemade yellow cake and even considered baking a boxed cake, since that is what he likes. Then my friend Lindy told me about her new Momofuku Milk Bar recipe book by Christina Tosi and David Chang. It has a myraid of decadent and eclectic cakes that bring your childhood to life in a hipster modern sort of way.
Once I saw the Milk Bar Birthday Cake recipe, I knew this was the one. I mean come on, it’s yellow cake with ADHD. I swopped out the vanilla buttercream frosting for chocolate, so that I could honor his request.
So Lindy and I set aside a few hours on the eve of this birthday to make this cake together, since it was our first time baking a technical layered cake like this. Looking back, it was not as difficult as it appeared in the recipe. There is, however, a few things you need to buy or order online before you begin. Also, you need to make this cake at least a day in advance, as it needs 12 hours in the freezer and 3 hours, prior to eating, to thaw out.
Let me tell you, the freaking flavors of this cake were outstanding. We tasted every component as we baked and were astounded with the incredible taste. The frosting was bitterly sweet with a creamy consistency . The Birthday Cake Crumb tasted liked buttery sugar cookie remnants. The Birthday Cake itself was rich, decadent and moist.
I will NEVER EVER make a boxed cake or boring 1 layered cake ever again. This recipe can be a base for many flavors of cake and frosting. This was a showstopper and will impress anyone who tastes it and sees it.
click links to purchase them online
Makes one 5 layer cake, 5 to 7 inches tall. Serves 8-12.
- 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 C vegetable shortening
- 1 1/4 C granulated sugar
- 3 T light brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 C buttermilk
- 1/3 C grapeseed oil
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 2 C cake flour
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 3/4 t kosher salt
- 1/4 C rainbow sprinkles
- 2 T rainbow sprinkles
BIRTHDAY CAKE SOAK
- 1/4 C milk
- 1 t vanilla extract
Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside for recipe.
BIRTHDAY CAKE CRUMB
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 T light brown sugar
- 3/4 C cake flour
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t kosher salt
- 2 T rainbow sprinkles
- 1/4 C grapeseed oil
- 1 T vanilla extract
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/4 t cream of tartar
- 3/4 t kosher salt
- 1 1/2 LB unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 t vanilla extract
- 3 t instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
- 1 T rum extract
- Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high for 2–3 minutes. Scrape the sides of bowl, add eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2–3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
- On low speed, pour in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium-high for 4–6 minutes, until the mixture is white, doubled in size and completely mixed. Don’t rush. 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 45–60 seconds, just so batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Pam-spray a quarter-sheet pan and line it with parchment paper or a baking 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 30–35 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 center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3–5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.
- Take the cake out of the oven and cool in the fridge. The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days if need be.
BIRTHDAY CAKE CRUMBS [Makes about 2 1/4 cups]
- Heat the oven to 300°F.
- Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add the oil and vanilla and mix again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue mixing until clusters form.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 300°F on a pan with parchment paper or baking mat.
- Let the crumbs cool completely before using in the recipe. Store in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them fresh for 1 week or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until melted and set aside until cooled at room temperature.
- Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Place egg white mixture in a heat-proof bowl and set over the pan of simmering water. Heat egg whites until they are warm to the touch [about 5 minutes]. Return mixture to the bowl on the stand mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.
- Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum extract. Mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again.
Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 4 circles from the cake. These are your top cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake (see picture above).
Layer 1: The Bottom
- Place cake ring it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a baking pat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Tape the acetate so that it stands up like a cylinder (see picture below).
- Put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
- Dunk a pastry brush in the Birthday Cake Soak and brush a generous amount over the cake layer (see picture below).
- Use the back of a spoon to spread 4 spoonfuls of frosting in an even layer over the cake.
- Sprinkle some Birthday Cake Crumbs evenly over the frosting. Push them into the frosting with a spoon.
- Use the back of a spoon to spread 1 more spoonful of frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
Layers 2-4: The Middle
- With your index finger, 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 the finished cake. Tape the seam together.
- Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1. (If one of your cake rounds is more uneven than the others, use it in the middle and save the prettier one for the top.)
Layer 5: The Top
- Nestle the last cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting, making it a flat top.
- Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- At least 3 hours before serving the cake, pull the sheet pan out of 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.
- Garnish top of the cake with the remaining birthday crumbs and candles.
- Sing Happy Birthday.
- Slice the cake into wedges and serve.