It wasn’t my birthday. It wasn’t Ed’s birthday. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday, actually. I just really wanted to make a cake with this many sprinkles. Actually, correction: I really wanted to make a cake with this many visible sprinkles.
I first saw this cake on the internet some months ago, and was immediately wowed by its appearance. Rainbow sprinkles – ‘naked’ layers of cake – pebbly things on the top? I wanted a piece of that delicious looking cake! The cake’s designer turned out to be the Momofuku Milk Bar, a super cool bakery based in New York. This recipe is in their book, Momofuku Milk Bar, and seeks to recreate the North American ‘Funfetti’ boxed cake-mix that apparently graced many people’s childhoods. I can’t help but feel that UK children were a bit short-changed on the Funfetti front- where was this flavour in our supermarkets? We only got hundreds and thousands on ice cream! (Oh, and on those chocolate ‘jazzes’ pick n mix sweets.) Ah well, we will just have to make it ourselves now, comforted in the knowledge that we’re never too old for rainbow sprinkles.
The basic flavour for Funfetti cake is vanilla (and sprinkles…if sprinkles is a flavour…which I think it totally is), and the cake should be fluffy and white to set off those pings of colour (so you might want to find clear imitation vanilla for this recipe so the cake stays light, although I didn’t – I used the real, brown vanilla [not because I was above using the imitation stuff- but I couldn’t find it in the shops when I needed it!]). And I have to say, ‘Funfetti’ is a great word for this type of cake and very apt. Ed, who didn’t know the word funfetti existed, pronounced this a”fun cake” while he was eating his first mouthful…so there you go! It must be true.
Even though, as I mentioned, I saw this cake months ago, I haven’t had a chance to get around to making it until now. I’ve had a busy few months- I’ve changed jobs, moved house and moved city- but at last we’re in our new place in Bath! And I’m getting to know my new kitchen, and my oven.
The oven and I aren’t friends. It is a noisy, temperamental, slightly broken, hot-spotty thing. It will be one of the first things we replace… but in the meantime, it is doing the job. Anyway! I’ll stop moaning now. Back to the cake.
So, this cake didn’t get made earlier because it’s actually a bit of a lengthy process to make and assemble it. But it is, I think, definitely worth it.
If you want to make it, you might need to go shopping for a few bits of kit…but once that’s done, it’s all pretty plain sailing. The recipe involves baking the cake in a sheet pan, and then cutting discs of cake out of that.
Meanwhile, you need to make the cake ‘pebbles’ (‘pebbles’ is my chosen term here! Sorry Momofuku Milk Bar). These go on the top of the cake, and also between each layer with the buttercream. To be honest, I thought the cake pebbles were going to be a cookie-dough consistency and as a raw-cookie dough lover, I was a bit disappointed when I found out they were baked and had more of a cookie-like texture. But they really work in the cake, and add interesting texture contrast (as well as tasting really nice- like little pieces of biscuit). The layers of cake are brushed with a ‘milk soak’, made of milk and vanilla, before buttercream and cakey pebbles are piled on top, and this milk soak is intended to intensify the flavours. I think it did have this effect – this cake is intensely vanillary – but I don’t think any difference in texture was perceptible.
A special shout out has to go to the frosting… well, it’s heavenly. Smooth and creamy, a perfect blend of buttercream and cream cheese (there’s also a bit of shortening in there, but don’t worry, not too much and the shortening gives a really silky texture).
In order to get the smooth sides for this cake, you need to layer up cake- buttercream – cakey pebbles- buttercream – cake – buttercream – cakey pebbles- buttercream – cake inside a 6 inch cake ring that’s been lined with acetate so that the acetate forms a high collar of sorts. (You can use the ring of a springform tin- I actually used a 6 inch cake tin with a solid base but I made two ‘handles’ out of foil so that I could pull the cake out when it was formed). You will end up building the cake way above the level of the ring/tin, which is where the acetate collar comes in, holding everything in place and allowing the buttercream frosting to squish out so pleasingly, flush with the cake layers.
Then chill the cake well (a freezer is recommended, but I am suspicious of cake + freezer combos so I just chilled it in the fridge) and unmould… and voila. A beautifully formed cake.
As I mentioned, this recipe is from the Momofuku Milk Bar recipe book, and I haven’t got permission to copy it here, so I haven’t done. But… Momofuku have given the world the recipe on their website, so hurrah! Find the recipe HERE.
Oh yeah, and as a final point… it’s called a ‘Birthday Cake’, but we managed to polish it off just fine without any birthday boys or girls in attendance… I think it should be renamed ‘midweek cake’. Why not? Lets make Tuesdays more Funfetti-ish, I say!
Go forth and sprinkle!