hi friends!! happy day after monday. i hope your week is going well so far. mine sure is as i am still riding high from a big birthday weekend, celebrated with family and friends and most notably: homemade birthday cake! twenty-four has been pretty sprinkly so far (see below).
while living in new york, i discovered momofuku milk bar, a well-known bakery in the city. “discover” is a loose term as momofuku’s famed cake, their birthday cake, is everywhere. it’s all over your instagram feed. it’s at every birthday dinner you go to. it’s sitting front and center at every milk bar. it’s everywhere, and for good reason. the cake is charmingly delicious, filled and topped with their signature birthday batter “crumbs” and vanilla cream cheese frosting. for my past two birthdays, i’ve eaten milk bar’s birthday cake. but those birthdays weren’t the only time i got a milk bar birthday cake fix. throughout the year, i found myself periodically “stumbling” into milk bars, buying birthday cake truffles, their small bite-size rounds made from the same birthday batter “crumbs” that sit atop the cake. yes, i’ve bought a number of those truffles…you can too.
anyhow, this year i decided to make a birthday cake of my own, riffing off of the momofuku recipe and blogger molly yeh’s funfetti cake recipe. as my aunt joanne says, it’s a “happy cake.” and it’s true! this cake will make your birthday (and any other day) happier. i promise.
as you can tell already, the batter is full of sprinkles. molly yeh’s funfetti recipe perfected the suspension of all these sprinkles so i used her batter as a jumping pad for my cake. as a big fan of almond flavoring, i opted for almond extract in lieu of vanilla and i’m so happy i did. another fun idea would be to use lemon extract (holler if you try it!).
the cakes themselves are pretty basic. the usual mixing of wet and dry ingredients takes place, the only difference being to throw in a cup of sprinkles at the end of mixing. in light of the family and friends who i expected at the birthday dinner — we celebrated both mine and my dad’s birthday on saturday night — and keeping in mind my hope for some leftovers, i doubled the recipe and made a four-layer cake. right now i’m happily eating a leftover slice as i type to you.
the hardest part of the cake is the assembly. i’d never baked a four-layer cake like this before, let alone frost it! knowing this, i dropped some questions on my bakery friends before taking it on. a big takeaway from my peers was around preparing the cakes: making sure the cakes are cold and leveled out before icing. wherever the cakes are not leveled, use icing to help even out the layers. all this intel, and some great tools (bench scraper, angled spatula, tall cake stand) helped enormously.
most importantly, my boss ben at bread furst helped inspire the sprinkling. instead of placing a heavy layer on the cake, ben recommended simply throwing the sprinkles on the cake. he did the same at a restaurant he used to work at and reminisced on the sprinkle throwing parties that happened in the kitchen. it sounded so fun that i decided to make my own mess!
the cake was a true success. i was thrilled! the inside was dotted with countless sprinkles that stood out brightly against the white cake. the frosting was pure butter and sugar and my one edit i’d have for next time is a bit less sugar in the frosting — i’ve gone ahead and adjusted this in the recipe below. beyond that, i wouldn’t change a thing. my cousin george even commented that it reminded him of the momofuku variety. my dream come true! my family and i feasted on the cake that night, and the next night, and still today. i’ll make known the little secret that i’ve eaten it for breakfast the past two days. tomorrow will be three!
so, if you are in the market for baking a birthday cake make sure to give this one a go. it’s a delight to serve and cut into with a big crowd around. bake it for yourself, bake it for a friend, bake it for anyone! you will be so happy you did.
and here are a couple other sprinkles from my past week:
this babka sugar high will make your day
haim’s something to tell you album is a+++++++++++
peter pan donuts started selling ice cream sandwiches on donuts and my brother rob has reported they’re incredible
thank you to everyone who made my birthday special this year! i have the best family and friends. and last but not least, here is a birthday cake carnage visual for you:
birthday sprinkle cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon almond extract
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour (i used a combination of 1 cup cake flour and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup sprinkles (i used rainbow jimmies!)
frosting and assembly:
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch salt
1 cup sprinkles
8 or 9-inch cake pans
electric hand mixer
cake stand is great for pics but not necessary, i used this green beauty by mosser glass
angled spatula is super helpful for icing! (again, not necessary)
cake (adapted slightly from molly yeh’s, funfetti cake):
- preheat oven to 350 degrees. grease two cake pans (8 or 9-inch work best). cut out parchment circles to match the pan’s bottoms and place in the pans. grease parchment well.
- mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a small-ish bowl. then mix butter and sugar together in a larger bowl, using a electric mixer. add the egg whites, almond extract, oil, and milk to the butter bowl and mix well.
- add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing slowly. once all the flour is incorporated, add in almost the full cup of sprinkles. fold the sprinkles into the batter with a spatula.
- scoop the batter evenly into each of your prepared cake pans. once in the pans, sprinkle the last bit of rainbow jimmies on top of the batter.
- bake the cakes for 25-28 minutes, using a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean from the batter.
- let cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes and then pop them out to continue cooling on a rack. make sure they’re completely cool before you start frosting! (i actually froze mine overnight and let them thaw out the next day a bit so they were hard.)
frosting and assembly (see notes above on how to best prepare the cake for assembly):
- prepare frosting: beat together butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt. voila!
- stack cakes and frost their tops as you continue to build your layers. once all layers are stacked, frost the outside of the cake with a crumb coat. put the cake in the fridge if you can so that it can rest and sit after your crumb coat.
- continue to build your frosting layers by adding more! use a bench scraper and angled spatula to help you.
- sprinkle time: just throw ’em! make a mess and briefly toss sprinkles on every side of the cake for a natural and “light” sprinkle look.