I had read countless bloggers posts and re-writes of The Milk Bar's Birthday Cake recipe. Critiques run from being fabulous to overly complicated for the home cook. But no one has questioned how cook the cake actually is. I have been string at this recipe for well over a year and this weekend I decided to tackle it once and for all.
Here's my take.
It certainly is a complex recipe and if you want to have the cake turn out exactly as Christina Tosi meant for it to be, all ingredients are important and serve a very distinct purpose and all elements are essential components for the dessert experience. I spent an entire week comparing various baker blogs attempts and their modified recipes to the original recipe as published in Tosi's cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar Life and on the Milk Bar website. It is fascinating what someone will leave out or the order in which they will change the instructions. My understanding is that most home cooks just wanted to simplify the instructions to make the recipe not seem complicated. I get that idea. I chose to follow Ms. Tosi's recipe as originally written and including all the so-called "specialty" ingredients required, like Grapeseed oil, glucose, and citric acid (just to name a few).
The recipe appears to be complex because there are numerous recipes within a recipe needed. Birthday Cake Crumb, Birthday Cake Sand, Cake milk and the Birthday Cake Truffles, in addition to making the cake and frosting. I took my time to organize the process, prep my ingredients for each recipe and went about making the components first.
I baked the confetti laden cake and set it to cool. I made the crumb and the Sand. Set those to cool. Made the Frosting. Then set about to build the cake and decorate.
The cake is rather easy to assemble and with all your components completed and ready to go, its truly a "piece of cake".
So here are some tips:
1. Organize your recipes and make a plan.
2. Organize and prep all your ingredients.
3. Use the ingredients as listed (and measurements given by weight and NOT volume). It makes a big difference!
4. Get yourself a 6 cake round cutter and some acetate strips. They are definitely needed.
5. Have fun and remember - the great thing about her cakes is that they are less about a perfect appearance and all about the flavors! That is why each ingredient is so important! DO NOT substitute canola oil for the Grapeseed oil. I found Grapeseed Oil at my local supermarket. Michaels and/or Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's have glucose in the cake decorating aisle. Citric Acid you can find there as well or at Williams-Sonoma or any other specialty kitchen store. If not, Amazon.com has it and if you are a prime member - you can get it the next day.
Instead of posting the recipe here - I am just going to link you directly to her recipe on the Milk Bar website. Be careful in deciding to use another bloggers recipe. They have been modified, even slightly and I promise, it will affect the outcome, whether it is the taste or the texture or the appearance. Christina Tosi has specifically crafted these recipes to be exactly as they are.
Christina Tosi's Milk Bar Birthday Cake and all it's components
I love this recipe. Its worth the effort!