Momofuku Birthday Cake

In spite of the fact that the compost cookies completely flopped, I am completely in love with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.  When Mike decided he wanted his birthday cake to be THE birthday cake from the book, I was super stoked….until I realized that I didn’t have any acetate sheets or clear vanilla extract.  But I can assure you that even with regular old vanilla extract, this beats any other homemade funfetti cake by a mile (and I’ve tried a few).  Plus, you can buy acetate sheets (overhead transparencies) from the print-shop section of an office supply store for about a dollar a sheet (I used 2 sheets for the cake) and just tape them together.

Thanks to my less than stellar reading comprehension skills (an affliction that worsens when I’m overly excited about trying a new recipe), I started baking only about 8 hours before we wanted to eat.  The recipe tells you to put the cake in the freezer for at least 12, and then thaw in the fridge for 3, but 3 hours in the freezer was plenty.

This cookbook is what initially sold me on baking by weight (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice recommends it as well, but I couldn’t be bothered until sweets were involved), so I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale for this.  I am listing the weights because I didn’t measure by volume, except for liquids and little stuff like baking powder.  The directions say to bake it in a quarter sheet pan and then use cake rings to make 6″ round layers.  I just divided the batter in thirds and baked it in 6″ round pans and it worked perfectly.

My parents, Mike and I all agreed that this cake was HEAVENLY.  It’s very sweet, but the frosting is like no other homemade frosting I’ve ever had; a perfect hybrid of buttercream and cream cheese frosting.  The crumbs between each layer are a must because of the unexpected contrast they provide.  I know the recipe looks like a major production, but it’s a lot of fun to put together!

Momofuku Birthday Cake


  • 100 g sugar
  • 25 g light brown sugar
  • 90 g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 g rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Cake
  • 55 g butter, at room temperature (1/2 stick)
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 245 g cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 50 g rainbow sprinkles
  • Soak
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Frosting
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch baking powder
  • pinch citric acid


  1. First, make the crumbs: Preheat the oven to 300F. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix will. Stir in the oil and vanilla and mix until clusters form. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cool completely before using in the cake.
  3. To make the cake, turn the oven up to 350 F. Line 3 6" cake pans with parchment rounds and grease the sides.
  4. Combine the butter, shortening, and both sugars in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two after each addition.
  5. Add the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and vanilla and beat on medium-high for 5 minutes, until the batter is well-mixed.
  6. Divide evenly among the pans
  7. Add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles, and mix on low just until combined.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edge of the cake bounces back when poked and the middle is set.
  9. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove the layers from their pans and cool completely.
  10. To make the frosting, beat the butter, shortening, and cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 minutes.
  11. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat on high for another 3 minutes.
  12. Add the powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low so you don't send powdered sugar flying all over your kitchen. Once it's incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and beat until smooth and creamy.
  13. To assemble the cake, put a piece of parchment or wax paper on a plate and set one of the layers on it.
  14. Wrap a 3" tall, 20" long strip of acetate around the base of the cake and tape it in place.
  15. Mix the milk and vanilla (for the soak) together in a small bowl, and brush a third of it over the first layer.
  16. Spread one fifth of the frosting evenly over the cake. Sprinkle with some of the crumbs, press them into the frosting, and top with a thin layer of frosting.
  17. Place the second layer on top of the frosting and tuck another strip of acetate (the same size as the first one) in so you have a 5" tall ring.
  18. Set a second cake round on top of the frosting and repeat with the soak, crumbs, and frosting.
  19. Add the third layer, brush the remaining soak over it, and spread the remaining frosting on top. Sprinkle with a few of the remaining crumbs.
  20. Place the plate in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  21. Carefully peel the acetate off the sides of the cake and defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.

(from Momofuku Milk Bar)

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