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Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake

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Reminiscent of box funfetti cake mix, this Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake is made with layers of cake loaded with rainbow sprinkles, creamy vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting, and crunchy cake crumbs.

momofuku milk bar birthday cake

My birthday is coming up! There is no better way to celebrate the special day with a special cake, isn’t it?

Yes, I made today’s cake for my birthday. Is that weird? I love making my own birthday cake. This way, I can make whatever I want. I decided to finally try the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake recipe I had eyed for a long time ago.

momofuku milk bar birthday cake

Look at this vibrant, playful rainbow-speckled tower cake that screams party. A three-layer cake with sprinkles, soaked in vanilla milk, slathered in creamy vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting. For the best part… drumrolls… the crumbs. The crumbs add flavor, crunch, and make the cake a lot more interesting!

This is no your ordinary cake because of the ingredient long list, unfamiliar tool, and the assembly is a little unusual. But I decided that it was the only cake for me this year. It took me a week to complete the purchase of the tools and ingredients. Let me tell you what the fuss is about and if the cake is worth enough to make at home.

About Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake

If you have not heard of this Milk Bar cake, let me explain to you what it is about. So, Milk Bar is a chain of dessert and bakery restaurants founded by chef Christina Tosi. Tosi owns the chain with the Manhattan-based Momofuku restaurant group.

What’s special about Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake?

  • They are baked in a quarter sheet pan, then stamped out with a 6-inch cake ring to make three layers of cake.
  • The cakes are not frosted on the sides. 
  • The cakes include complimentary “crumb” recipes that are sandwiched between the layers.
  • The birthday cake takes inspiration from the funfetti cake and tub of frosting that sits on the aisles of the grocery stores. Christina Tosi’s goal is to replicate the flavors of her favorite funfetti cake mix and capture all the nostalgia and feeling that we had in the past.

Components

Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake consists of 4 parts:

  • Birthday cake – vanilla rainbow-speckled cake
  • Birthday cake crumb – sweet and a little bit salty crunchy morsels with strong imitation vanilla flavor
  • Birthday cake frosting – smooth and silky white cream cheese buttercream with strong imitation vanilla flavor
  • Birthday cake soak – vanilla milk to make the cake moist
momofuku milk bar birthday cake

Special Ingredients You Need

There are a handful of ingredients that you may/may not be familiar with:

  • Vegetable shortening. Shortening is mixed together with the butter to make the birthday cake and frosting white, not too yellow.
  • Clear vanilla extract. Milk Bar uses McCormick vanilla extract in the birthday cake, crumbs, and frosting. The taste of imitation vanilla recreates the classic flavor of the cake box mix. Clear vanilla extract also helps the cake components white in color.
  • Grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and has a light color and flavor that won’t conflict with the other flavors in your cake.
  • GlucoseLiquid glucose, often referred to as glucose syrup, is a liquid form of simple sugar. Glucose is added to birthday cake frosting. It keeps the frosting soft and moist. You can substitute glucose with corn syrup, but the frosting will be sweeter.
  • Corn syrup. The corn syrup adds moisture to help dissolve the sugar. It also makes the frosting more glossy and luscious. You can substitute half the amount of corn syrup for glucose by volume.
  • Citric acid. Citric acid is a weak, organic acid naturally found in citrus fruits. It is most often used as a natural preservative or to add an acidic or sour taste to food and baked products. If you can’t find any, you can also substitute citric acid for a little amount of lemon juice.
confetti vanilla cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting and crunchy crumbs

Special Tools and Equipment

You will also need to gather these tools and equipment to make this cake:

  • 1 quarter sheet pan. The most important note when it comes to this birthday cake is that you are not going to bake three 6-inch cakes. Instead, you will bake one large sheet cake. Then, you will stamp the 2 cake rounds with a cake ring. For the third cake layer, you will need to put together the remaining off-cuts from the sheet cake.
  • 1 6-inch/15 cm cake ring. A cake ring is used to stamp out the birthday cake. Then, the stamped cake rounds are stacked in the same cake ring lined with an acetate cake collar.milkbar birthday cake sheet
  • 2 strips 3-inch/7.5 cm cake acetate. Cake acetate is a type of sturdy plastic that comes in sheets or rolls. It is used to line the inside of the cake ring. They will serve as a protective wrap for naked cakes.
  • Pastry brush. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the cake soak into each layer of cake.
  • Bent spoon or small ladle spoon. In many Christina Tosi videos, she uses a bent spoon to spread the frosting. I found using a small ladle spoon works as well.
how to make milkbar birthday cake

My Thoughts After Making and Trying Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake

This Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake is a labor of love. It looks intimidating at first. But in some ways, I actually found it easier than a typical layer cake because you don’t need frosting on the sides. 

The most difficult thing was purchasing the specific ingredients and tools. I tried finding tools and ingredients that Tosi has in her original recipe because I believed that you would need to follow the exact recipe for making ‘her’ cake.

I tried recreating her original recipe to the greatest extent of my ability, but I really could not find the specific pan and clear vanilla extract around my area. Instead of using a quarter sheet pan, I used an 11×11-inch/27.5×27.5 cm pan which had the same area bottom surface and fit two 6-inch/15 cm rounds. I also purchased a small bottle of imitation vanilla with the lightest color I could find. I was happy that they totally worked!

Mixing, baking, and assembling the cake was easy as long as you follow the recipe. It took me three days to make it:

  • Day 1. Make the birthday cake and crumb.
  • Day 2. Make the birthday cake frosting and cake soak. Assemble and freeze the cake.
  • Day 3. Defrost the cake and serve.

Honestly, the cake was phenomenal but way too sweet for me. The taste did taste like ‘the cake box mix and tub frosting taste’ that Tosi wanted to achieve. The cake itself was nice and perfect – soft, fluffy, and moist. The frosting was soft and silky, but it tasted overwhelmingly sweet with a supersaturated vanilla flavor which was very off-putting.

The crumb was a brilliant idea because it made the cake a lot more interesting! It tasted sweet, surprisingly a little bit salty, with a perfect crunch. I just could not stop eating the crumb because it was really the best part of this cake. 

momofuku milk bar birthday cake

What I Will Change If I Make This Cake Again

If I have a chance to make this again, I will adjust the recipe like the below:

  • Cut down one-third to half the amount of confectioners’ sugar in birthday cake frosting.
  • Reduce the clear vanilla extract into half in the birthday cake frosting and crumb.

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momofuku milk bar birthday cake
4.8 from 4 votes

Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake

Reminiscent of box funfetti cake mix, this Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake is made with layers of cake loaded with rainbow sprinkles, creamy vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting, and crunchy cake crumbs.
Author: Jaja Bakes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 6-inch/15 cm cake
Tap or hover to scale!
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Additional Time15 hours
Total Time17 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

Birthday Cake

  • 1/4 cup (55 gr) butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (60 gr) vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 gr) granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp (50 gr) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110 gr) buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup (65 gr) grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp (8 gr) clear vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (245 gr) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp (6 gr) baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp (3 gr) kosher salt
  • 7.5 tbsp (75 gr) rainbow sprinkles, divided

Birthday Cake Crumb

  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (25 gr) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3/4 cup (90 gr) cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 gr) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 gr) kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp (20 gr) rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup (40 gr) grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp (12 gr) clear vanilla extract

Birthday Cake Frosting (1.5x the original recipe)

Birthday Cake Soak

  • 1/4 cup (55 gr) milk
  • 1 tsp (4 gr) vanilla extract

Instructions

Birthday Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350F/180°C. Grease and line a quarter sheet pan (I used an 11×11-inch/27.5×27.5 cm pan) with parchment paper or silpat.
  • With a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Add eggs and beat on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
  • Turn the mixer on low speed. Stream in the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and clear vanilla extract. Increase the speed to medium-high speed and paddle for 4-6 minutes until the mixture is light, fluffy, and no streaks of fat or liquid remain. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the mixer on low speed. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the 50 gr rainbow sprinkles. Mix just until the batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 25 gr rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before assembling the cake.

Birthday Cake Crumb

  • Preheat oven to 300F/150°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
  • With a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, add granulated, light brown sugar, and rainbow sprinkles. Sift in cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low heat until well combined.
  • Add grapeseed oil and clear vanilla extract. Mix until small clusters form.
  • Pour the crumb n the prepared pan. Use your hands to make larger lumps.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.

Birthday Cake Frosting

  • With a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Add glucose, corn syrup, and clear vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Sift in confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add baking powder and citric acid. Mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Turn the speed on medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until white and smooth.

Birthday Cake Soak

  • In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla extract until well combined.

Assemble the Cake

  • Place a parchment paper or silpat onto the counter. Invert cake onto it. Peel off the parchment/silpat from the bottom of the cake.
  • Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles. These will be your middle and top layers. The remaining cake scrap will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake. (*see Video for visual guide)
  • Clean the cake ring. Place onto a cake board or a pan lined with parchment or silpat. Line the inside with 1 strip of acetate.
  • 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.
  • Dip a pastry brush into the soak and brush onto the cake layer.
  • Using the back of a bent spoon or ladle, spread 1/5 of the frosting in an even layer over the cake. Sprinkle 1/3 of the crumb over the frosting. Spread 1/5 of the frosting over the crumble into an even layer.
  • 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 to 6-inches tall.
  • Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process of step 5 and 6 for the second layer.
  • Place the remaining cake round onto the frosting. Cover the top with the remaining 1/5 frosting. Use an offset spatula to flatten the frosting or make swirls with the back of a spoon.
  • Top with the remaining crumb.
  • Transfer the cake to the freeze and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • At least 3 hours before serving, remove the cake from the freezer. Remove the cake ring. Transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge. Peel off the acetate before serving.

Notes

Adapted from Milk Bar Birthday Cake recipe.
I made 1.5x original frosting recipe because the amount in the original recipe was way too little.
I do not recommend making the cake in one day. Make the components at least 2-3 days in advance, following this:
  • Day 1. Make the birthday cake & crumb.
  • Day 2. Make the birthday cake frosting & cake soak. Assemble and freeze the cake.
  • Day 3. Defrost the cake. Serve.
Storage:
  • The cooled birthday cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 4 days.
  • The crumbs can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
  • Store the frosting in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • The assembled cake will last in the freezer for up to 2 weeks or 5 days in the refrigerator, wrapped well in plastic.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1whole cake | Calories: 9451kcal | Carbohydrates: 1121g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 525g | Saturated Fat: 198g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 146g | Monounsaturated Fat: 145g | Trans Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 1160mg | Sodium: 7804mg | Potassium: 1136mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 841g | Vitamin A: 8015IU | Calcium: 1045mg | Iron: 8mg
Did You Make This Recipe?I love hearing how you went with the my recipes. Leave a comment below or tag @jacintahalim on Instagram.

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5 Comments

  1. Hello Jacinta,

    What an impressive & diligent effort baking this awesome cake!

    Hope your birthday celebration was worthy of the cake and all your hardwork was appreciated by everybody celebrating with you. Really appreciate your equipment, ingredients and process insights and have to say, I’d have struggled with the quart sheet pan as I don’t live in the US and will go with the 11″ square pan as you’ve demonstrated it gives the same result.

    A couple of questions regarding the long freeze time. I have VERY LITTLE freezer space so 1) What does the freezing achieve – does it add to the mouthfeel and/or taste or is it just to facilitate the setting of the frosting? 2) Could I omit the freezing and just refrigerate for a longer time?

    Many thanks in advance for your insight & advice!

    1. Hello Wong Tse,

      Since the frosting is a little bit on the runny side, freezing the cake helps to set the cake and frosting. It also allows the acetate wrapping to come off and leave the cake intact and neat.

      It is okay to omit the freezing and refrigerate the cake overnight but I think the frosting will look a little messy when you peel off the acetate wrapping. So, I recommend leaving the acetate wrapping on until you finish the celebration.

      1. Thanks for getting back. Yes, the frosting did look very runny in your video. Will tweak it to make a bit firmer (I’ll pipe it in instead of ladling as you did) & refrigerate overnight or even a tad longer. Wish me luck with the unwrapping of the acetate!

    1. Halo kak, untuk resep ini belum saya kurangi takaran gula bubuk di frosting. Bisa dikurangi 1/3-1/2 gula bubuknya karena biasa takaran gula resep barat cenderung manis sekali.