Henry just turned One with a capital O, guys!
It’s really hard to believe both that he’s been in our lives for a whole year, but equally hard to believe that he hasn’t been here a whole lot longer than that.
Social distancing has made it really hard, though, as we were planning to celebrate with our families – we had booked a trip to Pennsylvania to visit Dave’s family in early April, and then my parents were planning to be out in California on his birthday. Needless to say, both of these trips were cancelled and we ended up doing birthday by Zoom.
But, with social distancing, I’ve had more time on my hands than normal, and so I set about making Henry a slightly fancier than average birthday cake. Because why not? I’ll eat it, even if he doesn’t!
The recipe I chose was Momofuku Milk Bar’s birthday cake recipe. I had never made it before, but I was looking for a bakery-esque vanilla cake recipe (and then I ran out of vanilla… more on that later). And it is seriously amazing, guys. Highly recommend.
I ran into 2 snafus when making this recipe. First of all, the original Momofuku recipe calls for the cake to be made on a sheet pan, and then cut into 6 inch rounds. This seemed annoying, so I adapted the recipe to bake in two 6-inch round cake pans. I used a cake-strip technique to ensure perfectly flat cakes (it worked perfectly, by the way).
The second snafu was the fact that we completely ran out of vanilla. And, because quarantine, apparently everyone is hoarding vanilla. So what was a girl to do? I substituted almond extract for the cake, and just didn’t add any extra flavoring to the frosting. And it was SO GOOD.
Sure the almond flavor is awesome (I love almond), but I think what really takes this cake to the next level is the texture. It’s dense without being heavy, and the crumb is crumbly and tender without being dry (honestly, it better not be dry with 3 varieties of fat in there…). It almost has a buttery cookie flavor to it, but definitely not a cookie texture. Wow. I just highly highly recommend this cake.
So because of my edits, I can’t with 100% confidence say that the Momofuku Milk Bar recipe is perfect. But I can tell you that this adaptation is freaking awesome. But if you’re not an almond extract fan, or if you’re worried your one year old won’t like it, go ahead and use vanilla. I’m very sure it’ll be amazing. 😉
And Happy Birthday Henry!!!! You are the best part of our lives and make quarantine so much better.
Mommy and Daddy love you! <3
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Momofuku’s Sprinkle First Birthday CakeCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake Recipe.
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or substitute with almond extract, like me!)
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup confetti sprinkles (I used these)
- American Buttercream
2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened to room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half and half (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
A tiny bit of blue and green food coloring (or color of your choice)
Additional 1/2 cup confetti sprinkles, for decorating
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 6-inch baking rounds by greasing on all sides and bottom, and adding a parchment round to the bottom of the cake pan, and greasing on top of the parchment as well.
- Optional, but recommended to create flat cake layers- add cake strips to your baking pans. I followed this DIY technique, but am thinking about purchasing these since it works so well!
- Combine butter, shortening, and sugars in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on medium-high until mixture is fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and mix for 2-3 additional minutes.
- Gradually add buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium high for about 4-6 minutes, or until mixture is fully combined and white-ish in appearance.
- Next, gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low between additions, until just combined.
- Stir in sprinkles.
- Distribute batter evenly between 2 cake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove cakes and invert onto cooling racks to cool fully before icing.
- Frosting your Cake
- While your cake bakes, prepare the buttercream. Using a hand mixer on low-medium speed, cream your butter, and gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla. Frosting will become quite stiff, and add a tablespoon or two of half and half as you’re mixing to thin out the texture a bit.
- Add just a small drop of blue food color, and an even smaller drop of green food coloring. Mix thoroughly until color resembles a very soft teal.
- Frost your cake using your preferred technique. I frosted in a smooth buttercream style, like this.
- Before decorating with the sprinkles, chill your cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile prep your wax paper: you will need a piece of wax paper that will wrap around the circumference of your cake. For the top, trace a number 1 (I used font titled WoodenNickleBack, size 350) onto your wax paper and carefully cut out with scissors.
- For the sides – wrap your wax paper around your cake, leaving about 1/2 inch of exposed frosting at the bottom of your cake. Using your fingers, press sprinkles into the exposed frosting. Carefully remove wax paper.
- For the top- place your number 1 template in the center of the cake. Gently press sprinkles into the open space. Again, carefully remove the wax paper.
- Per Momofuku – Cake will be good kept in the refrigerator up to 4 days, but we didn’t let it last that long 😉
I’m not a huge fan of using shortening— is there something I can replace it with? More butter or more veg oil?
Hmmm, so I haven’t tested this without the shortening, but from experience with other recipes, usually butter is a good stand in! Let us know how it goes if you try it!