When it comes to making dessert…

 …I can really take the cake.

cake 5

Not trying to toot my own horn, but…you know, I did a good job.

It was my birthday a week ago, and I celebrated this past Saturday. Now, I usually make my own birthday cake, or special occasion cakes, and it’s usually some kind of decadent chocolate confection. Even when I was younger, my mom would make my birthday cake; and it was always from scratch.

That’s why, when I would go to my friend’s birthday parties, and they would have a birthday cake from a shop, or made from a box, it was the ultimate indulgence. There is something about a box came that I love, and hate at the same time. I think I’m just a little mad that box cakes come out perfect every time, whereas mine can sometimes be a tasty gamble. Usually delicious, sometimes heavy, not always pretty….

Anyway. When I took out the Momofuku cookbook from the library and saw their version of a homemade, from-scratch funfetti cake, I was hooked. I was drooling over the pages. I wanted it. I needed it. I had to make it.

They call it their Birthday Cake, or Confetti cake, and it is loud, colorful, and oh-so devilishly delicious.

cake 4I got into my head that, instead of making one big cake to share, I would make every single guest coming to my party their own mini, three layer cake. Why? Because I love mini versions of my favorite foods and I love making people feel special. What would make people feel more special than having your own personal cake? Brilliant, or insane? Maybe a bit of both. All I know is, perfection. A lot of work, but absolutely worth every second of it.

Each cake was sweet, with a bit of crunch, with a hint of salt, with a creamy frosting, that gives each person that “I shouldn’t be eating this, but goodness it’s so delicious, and maybe I’ll have another” feeling.

And worth every mile I ran afterward.

This recipe makes a quarter sheet pans worth of cake. You can also do it in regular cake pans. It is up to you. Don’t be confined by a recipe. Or make cupcakes! The possibilities are endless, really.

In order to make this cake, you have to make the cake, cake soak, cake frosting, and cake crumb. It sounds like a lot, but it all comes together, and as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. And those who work for it.

Reading through it, it looks intimidating because of all the steps, ingredients, and whatever else I have going on below. But, relax. Take a breath and work through it. I know how you are feeling, dear reader, since I too almost didn’t make this cake because of all the steps. I thought, oh no, hot mess. But, it’s reasonable. Just take it one bit at a time and read through everything before had. Gather the ingredients, set aside some time, and have at it.

Pre-Assembly

Birthday Cake Crumb

crumb

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup grape seed
  • 1 tbl McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or piece of parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix on low speed until combined.
  3. Stream in the oil and the imitation vanilla on low speed and continue beating the mixture until the ingredients clump and form small clusters.
  4. Carefully spread the clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes, breaking up occasionally. They will be slightly moist but will harden as they cool. Let them cool completely before using.

Momofuku’s Confetti Cake

cake 1Ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temp
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 tsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a rimmed quarter sheet pan by spraying with cooking spray and covering the base with a sheet of parchment. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1/4 cup sprinkles in a small bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside for later.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the eggs (all at once) and then beat again on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the wet ingredients (buttermilk, canola oil, and imitation vanilla) in a steady stream. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for another 4 to 6 minutes. The mixture should double in size and turn practically white. Don’t stop mixing until the mixture is completely homogeneous, with no visible streaks of oil or fat.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, and mix for another minute or so until the ingredients are just combined.
  7. Pour out the batter into the prepared sheet pan, spreading it out into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbl of sprinkles.
  8. Bake for 30–35 minutes until the cake bounces back slightly when gently pressed in the corner. The center of the cake should no longer jiggle when the pan is shook. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Birthday Cake Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 tablespoon glucose
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch baking powder

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and the cream cheese for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and glossy white.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, baking powder, and citric acid on low speed until just combined. Crank the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is stark white and fluffy.
Birthday Cake Soak

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small cup or bowl.

Cake Assemble!

I think, for the most part, you all know how to assemble a basic layer cake. However, I will post the steps below. I posted the original instructions, for the single three-layer cake, not the 23 mini cakes I made.
I also did not slather my cake in quite as much frosting as is generally required. Why? Because it kept getting gummed up when I tried, and honestly I was a little worried that my mini cakes would be overwhelmed by frosting if I did. So, use your judgement and adapt accordingly.
My only other notes are: definitely don’t skimp on the soak and make sure you put the crumbs between the frosting layers, it is OH so worth it.
cake 2

Ingredients

  • 1 batch birthday cake (recipe above)
  • 1 batch birthday cake soak (recipe above)
  • 1 batch birthday cake frosting (recipe above)
  • 1 batch birthday cake crumbs (recipe above)

Method

  1. Invert the birthday cake onto a sheet of parchment paper or silpat, and peel off the parchment paper backing. Using the 6-inch cake ring, stamp out two circles from the cake. These will be the top and middle layers. The remaining cake “scrap’ will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
  2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat atop a baking sheet. Use one strop of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even later.
  3. Dunk the pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
  4. Spread one fifth of the birthday cake frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the birthday cake crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. Top with another fifth of the birthday cake frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the crumbs.
  5. With your index finger, gently 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 th finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one fifth of the frosting, one third of the cake crumbs, and another one fifth of the frosting.
  6. Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for the perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs.
  7. Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)
  8. Three hours before serving, pull the pan from 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. (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

cake 3

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