Happy Birthday To You!
Updated: May 3
Recreating the Milk Bar Birthday Cake. Celebrate with this beautiful, colorful birthday cake.
This cake is the most complicated cake that I have ever tried to make. I was both excited for the challenge and nervous for the unexpected. And I must say, I messed something up and I'm not quite sure what. But my cakes did not rise the way they are supposed to. They made very thin layers, but I improvise and fixed it. I used the leftover cake from the cutouts to make each layer thicker. It makes for a slightly messier cake but did thicken the layers a lot.
First you need a few more complicated items than what is used in a normal cake recipe. The things that really stood out to me were: Cake ring, sheet pan, Acetate paper, liquid glucose, cake flour and citric acid. These are normally standard things you can buy. But I was making this with a short time notice for my sister's Med School Graduation party and in the Quarantine, meaning shipping takes longer than normal.
This cakes calls for a 6" cake ring, however when I placed my order I bought an 8" so I made my cake only 2 layers instead of three. Still a beautiful cake and delicious. You can buy these on amazon.
I would recommend buying the acetate paper as a roll instead of sheets. you will use this later during the assembly process and building your cake. These are the sheets I bought.
As for the Liquid glucose and citric acid, I couldn't find these anywhere in my time frame so I used substitutes. For liquid glucose, I used corn syrup and for citric acid, you can use fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar. I used the distilled white vinegar. For cake flour, read more here to see how to create your own.
Let's Bake the Cake!
1. Preheat your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with baking spray.
2. Mix your sugars and butter. In a standing mixer combine your butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes. you want to really combine these ingredients and make the butter mixture light and fluffy.
2. Add your eggs. Next add your eggs to the butter mixture. I added one egg at a time and mixed until each egg is combined and then after the last one, I beat for 3 minutes. The recipe didn't call for doing this separately and mixing each egg at a time, but I don't think it made a difference.
3. Add your wet ingredients. Slowly add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla into your batter. I kept the buttermilk at room temperature before combining. Once these are incorporated, increase your mixer to medium - high and mix for at 5 minutes until the batter is combined well. This will take some time. As soon as I added these wet ingredients my batter looked curdled and I was so nervous.
Did I do something wrong?
Don't worry. This is due to the fatty ingredients from the butter and shortening mixing with the oils. You need to be patient and let all the ingredients combine. It will take some time. After the five minutes, I felt like the batter still needed a little more time, so I mixed it a little longer on higher speed. At this point your batter will feel really light fluffy.
4. Add the dry ingredients. Once your batter is fully combined, lower the speed of your mixture to the lowest speed. Add your cake flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles.
5. Add your batter to your baking sheet. Pour your batter onto the baking sheet and spread evenly. Once you have spread your batter, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. I put the cake in for 30 minutes and then checked the cake. The recipe says touch the outside edges and they should bounce back softly and the middle will no longer be jiggly. My cake didn't exactly bounce back but the middle was not jiggly. To be safe it put it back in the oven for 3 more minutes. When I check again it did bounce back slightly more than before. Let your cake cool completely.
Build Your Crumbles
Next you have to make the birthday cake crumbles. these are the crumbles that will go between the cake layers and used to decorate the top.
1. Preheat your oven. Preheat your oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add the dry ingredients. In a standing mixer, add the cake flour, sugar, brown sugar, sprinkles, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined. This step does not take long.
3. Add your wet ingredients. Add your oil and vanilla to your dry ingredients and mix together to create your crumbles. These were a little crumbley and I knew we wanted some big chunks. When placing these on the baking sheet, I clumped some together in my hands to get different sizes.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Put these in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out and let them cool completely.
Let's Make some Frosting!
While your cakes and crumbles cools, make your frosting. I am not sure if I used too much frosting on my layers or if it was because my cakes were bigger (8") but I had to make two batches of the frosting.
1. Combine your butter. Mix the butter (softened), Vegetable shortening, and cream cheese (softened) for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Add your corn syrup and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add your corn syrup and vanilla. The recipe calls for liquid glucose however, I used the substitute which is corn syrup. So I added 2 tablespoons instead of 1. Mix this on medium high for 2-3 minutes until your frosting is pure white.
3. Add the final ingredients. Scrape down the sides and add your powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid. For the baking powder and citric acid, it calls for only a pinch. I used distilled white vinegar for my citric acid and I was nervous for how much to put in. I poured a little into the lid and then slowly poured about 2 drops into the frosting. Mix on medium-high for 5 minutes so get that silky consistency. Now for the tricky part - assembling the cake!
Build Your Cake
This is the most complicated cake I have had to build and you would think I naked cake would be simple. I made TONS of mistakes, but I think it still turned out looking pretty good. This is where the acetate paper comes into play.
You want to fit your acetate paper to your cake ring. you are going to build the cake inside of this. This step does take some time and I would suggest trimming it down a little if it is too tall.
Before you start building your cake, you need to make a cake soak. This is super easy! Take 1/4 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract and whisk together. Set aside for when building your cake layers. Here is where I ran out of the clear vanilla extract that is used in all the rest of the cake. To be honest, I couldn't tell a difference.
1. Cut out your cake circles. I took my cake ring and cut into the cake while it was still in the baking sheet. I would highly suggest flipping the cake onto a slipmat or parchment paper and removing the sheet pan. This way, when you make the cake circles, it will be easy to remove the scrapes.
2. Place the cake inside the cake ring. Once you have cut your pieces out, place your bottom layer inside the cake ring. I went ahead and put the acetate circle in the cake ring during this step, but it will be easier to take off at the end it you wait until the layers are taller. Now my cake was really thin, so I took the excess scraps from the cake sheet and created another layer on top of my first layer to make it look like on big layer. You can crumble these to get rid of the edges and then build this layer.
3. Add the cake soak. Take a spoon and drip the cake soak evenly around the first layer. This is to help your cake keep moisture.
4. Add your first layer of frosting. Using a spatula or the back of the spoon spread your frosting. Don't use too much on this first layer you add a layer of crumbles and then more frosting before your next layer of cake. I used about half the frosting in this step and didn't have enough to top the cake and had to make a second batch.
5. Add your crumbles. Depending on how many layers, spread a portion of the crumbles over the frosting. I am doing to layers so I spread 1/2 of the crumbles. If you are doing 3 layers, spread 1/3.
6. Add another layer of frosting. Add a layer of frosting covering the crumbles and get ready for adding your next layer.
7. Add your top layer of your cake. I first added the cake scrap layer to the cake. I wanted to use my last cut out cake layer as the very top to keep it clean on top and even.
For me only doing 2 layers this is my top layer. If you are making three layers, add your next layer and repeat cake soak -> frosting -> crumbles -> frosting -> top layer.
After the scraps, I added my top layer and used cake soak here as well. Adding the cake soak to the top was not in the recipe steps, but I had some leftover and thought why not.
8. Add your final layer of frosting. Add a thick layer of frosting to the top of the cake. This is your top layer. Make sure your frosting is even.
9. Decorate. Decorate your cake with the remaining cake crumbles. I lined the top of my cake with the crumbles, but I have seen some where they made a pile of the crumbles in the middle. It the middle of my crumbles I sprinkled some rainbow sprinkles.
10. Store your cake. The recipe says to put your cake in the freezer for 12 hours minimum. To be honest, my freezer is definitely not big enough to store a cake this big. I trimmed down my acetate paper so the height wasn't as tall and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Your cake is now ready to eat! Take your cake out of the fridge 1 hour before you plan to eat it to thaw out. Enjoy!!!!
To be honest, I am not sure what I did to make my cake not rise. If anyone is reading this and knows, please comment. I googled this and the results were that cakes won't rise if the baking powder is expired or stale. my baking powder doesn't expire for another year, so I know this isn't the case. I think best bet is I over mixed my batter once the flour was added. I will be making this cake again because it has risen in ranks among my family and friends for best cake I have made. Even with the layers being smaller and my improvising with the scraps. When I remake this, I will test out mixing the flour less and see how the cake turns out.
Taste Tester Thoughts
"Best icing you have made."
"Tastes like a sugar cookie - it is so good!"
"My new favorite cake you have made. I was worried a naked cake wouldn't have enough frosting, but this is perfect."
"Saving the crumbles for last because saving the best part for last."
Get This Recipe What to make your own Birthday cake, go here for the full recipe and steps. Good luck!