Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake Challenge

A few weeks ago, my lunch pals at work Rachael and Lauren started talking about this amazing cake called the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake. I have to admit when I first heard of this I thought it was some sort of candy bar. But the “milk bar” isn’t a milk rich candy bar, but a bakery/coffee bar in New York. Or at least I think it is. After reading and re-reading their website, I still don’t really know what they are/do. All I know is that I have been challenged with making the following cake and I have accepted the challenge.

This isn’t any ordinary cake. With a list of ingredients like white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, glucose, grape seed oil, citric acid, butter, milk, buttermilk, shortening, and acetate sheets, plus the entire recipe is measured in grams (finally no more calculations from volume to mass!), it sounds more like a chemistry experiment than a cake recipe. All the more reason for me to accept this challenge. I am happy to put my kitchen scale to the test.
Day 1: Shopping for the ingredients.
Most people hate grocery shopping, but that in fact is one of my most favorite things to do. I once drove over 2 hours just to go to this grocery store that I was told I had to check out. So faced with a challenge of finding things like citric acid and glucose, I am raring go to. There is also new hardware involved like as a 6″ cake pan (that should be easy to find), and acetate strips (Office Depot?) Here’s the entire cast assembled waiting for their debut. I am a little short on butter, however. I need around 1,200 grams, so I will need at least one more trip to the grocery store. This picture also doesn’t include some other hardware like the mixer, sheet pan, Silpat, etc.

I even bough a $4.99 cake stand:
Day 2: Component Creation and Assembly
I now have all of the ingredients in place and I am ready to go. The first step is to make the cake crumb topping. Here it is in the mixer before going into the oven.
And the finished product.

Next comes the cake itself. It’s made on a sheet pan and then cut and assembled later. Before the oven:
Whew, half way done.  Now all that’s left is the milk soak (just milk and vanilla) and the frosting.

The frosting is something of a mystery to me. I thought one pound of butter would be more than enough. But not until Min told me that 1 kg is 2.2 pounds that I realized that I need much, much more butter. Here’s the butter– all 1,155 grams.

After putting all of that butter in the mixer and seeing that it almost was overflowing, I really started to think that something was wrong. Could the recipe really call for that much butter? After using all 1,155 grams of butter and making enough frosting to ice 10 cakes:

So I went back to the website and read ALL of the comments on the recipe. And lo and behold, someone asked the author if the 1,155 grams was a typo. And she confirmed it was and it should be 115 grams of butter. So why don’t you change the recipe for crying out loud!
The final construction was fairly straightforward. Put a layer of cake, milk soak, cake crumbs, and icing. Repeat until it gets to the top of the cake pan. Here’s the finished cake before going into the freezer for 12 hours….


2 thoughts on “Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake Challenge

  1. Jan says:

    So sorry about the typo! I replaced one typo with another, which is completely inexcusable, I know. I've fixed it now. Maybe you could freeze the extra frosting for your next layer cake?

  2. Keith Bajura says:

    Actually, there's not all that much left. I was dipping the scraps of cake into it. Yum! I am just worried that the proportions are off. But it's tasty and I guess that all that matters!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *