Yes, I made Milk Bar's birthday layer cake and lived to tell it. Remember when you were a kid and your mom would make that boxed confetti birthday cake topped with the icing from the blue canister? It was thick and gooey and way too sweet? Well this is that cake, except it's homemade and a bit fancier. Think of it as birthday layer cake for adults (or kids who appreciate blood, sweat, and tears, jk, sorta).
For months I've been eyeing this multifaceted recipe. I would flip through my Milk Bar cookbook by Christina Tosi, and stare at the components, writing it off as I glazed over the three-plus recipe section write up. But, as my confidence in baking slowly improved the last few months aka, I started baking, I wanted to really challenge myself. If I could make lemon squares, I could make a cake. When I saw that a fellow JC mom made the very same cake I was eyeing, I reached out to her on Facebook, grilling her about how necessary the acetate is (very), the six inch cake ring (yes), and the suggested 12 hour freezing period (also pretty essential). So when Will's birthday was approaching, I thought this was my moment. I scrupulously studied the recipes and made a game plan, ordering the ingredients on Fresh Direct and gradually chipping away at the various components three days in advance.
I started with the crumb, which was pretty easy. You mix together flour, sugar, sprinkles, and imitation vanilla until it forms a slightly moist crumble. Then you bake it and then store it. I have some leftover in my freezer and I'm not upset about it.
Then I made the cake, which wasn't very difficult either. It's basically like making a sheet cake, except you get to add lots of pretty sprinkles.
Lastly, I made the cream cheese frosting, which tasted like the canned version, only this is better because it's homemade. You also need to make a vanilla/milk dressing, but that's easy and just for assembling.
To assemble, you use the cake ring to punch out two cake rounds and then use the remainder of the cake bits to form the third layer (your base). You insert the acetate to help keep the cake layers in formation and top the messy base layer with the vanilla/milk and then add crumbs and frosting and another layer. Repeat until you reach the top and then decorate with tons of pretty crumbs.
After assembling, I double wrapped the cake in plastic and foil and placed it in the freezer for 12 hours. Three hours before the dinner celebration, I put the cake in the fridge and popped it out of the cake ring and acetate. The cake worked! It was a miracle. And the best part was that it was delicious. My whole family, including Will, were super impressed with the presentation and taste, basically a stunning victory.
While it's certainly a bit labor intensive, if you break down the recipe, it's not as difficult as it appears and the results are pretty and impressive. For those who have toyed with making this cake, I hope I've given you some hope and confidence. Let me know how it turns out!