Best Funfetti Birthday Cake

On Friday, one of my best friends–who also happens to have been the co-instructor of Baking 101 and one of my greatest partners in sugar crimes–made my weekend by driving in from Dallas. Tiffany and I have grand plans to open a bitchin’ bakery someday and came up with our concept over the weekend: cake by the pound.

Instead of selling cupcakes, we’d sell slices of cake. By the pound. Because layer cakes are totally better than cupcakes since you can even out the frosting to cake surface area ratio instead of having ALL the frosting plopped on top. Plus they’re taller and prettier and you can dig in with a fork. They’re just the best.

 Our cake by the pound idea may or may not have been inspired by the 14 pounds of cake in my fridge.

Yeah…so remember when I was debating whether I should bake my own cake? Or buy one? Or not be involved in my own birthday cake? Well.

I may or may not have done both. There may or may not be the remainder of Costco’s 7-lb. All-American chocolate cake sitting in my fridge next to the debris of a triple-layer homemade funfetti cake. A triple-layer cake, I might mention, that is double the size it’s supposed to be BECAUSE I WAS WORRIED I WOULDN’T HAVE ENOUGH. (Also because I didn’t have the right size pans.)

Though S left for California, her former roommate, Laura, filled in for this project. Sadly, chances are good that I scared Laura off with my liberal usage of Crisco. Not to mention she looked at me like I needed to have my head examined (not unfair) when I told her that we were doubling everything.

This is her NAILED IT face. (It looked like a disaster pre-freezing.)

But surprisingly, the results were decidedly non-disastrous, even though we modified one (tiny) section–I was determined to stick to the recipe since I was actually feeding this to a casual crowd of about 20+ people.

Back to the cake by the pound idea. Maybe cake by the pound might sound like a little much. But not this cake.

This cake. Is out of this world.

I, a self-realized chocolate fiend, found my fork nudging aside smudges of chocolate frosting for remnants of this sprinkles-studded cake. This cake is three layers of substantial but fluffy vanilla cake that isn’t overly rich with butter but sweetly, subtly addicting. Each layer of cake sandwiches two layers of the smoothest and creamiest vanilla frosting you’ll ever find. Embedded in the center of the billowy frosting nestle psychedelic crunchies that taste like the baby of the ultimate crunchy sugar cookie and the pure essence of cake batter, conceived under a sky lit with rainbow fireworks.

Ugh. Stop me.

Of course, said 20+ people only managed to make a significant dent in each cake. In the future, I recommend this amount of cake only for weddings of minor royalty members. Oh, and then I got cupcakes the next day at work. And my roommate’s birthday is today. And my boyfriend’s birthday is next Monday.

Could you do me a favor? I may need help crawling out from under this giant mountain of cake. I’ll bring the forks.

Notes

If you, like me, like to modify recipes, note that this cake was particularly crafted to imitate the boxed funfetti cake and the canned white frosting, which is odd concept to put hours of labor into something with the hopes of making it turn out like a boxed mix until you realize that this is 203957803984 times better. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend making essential ingredient swaps if you want the authentic taste, even for the shortening (which I found slightly terrifying).

I would simply link you to the other fantastic posts out there about this cake, but I did make some substantial changes to the size of this cake. So in case you too would like to double the size of this magnificent cake (and let’s face it–if you’re going to do it once, why not go big?), here’s what I did:

  • I didn’t have a 6″ cake ring and I was planning on serving a lot of people, so I doubled the recipe and used two 9″ cake pans plus a 9×13 pan (you could also use 8″ pans without modifying this recipe–your layers may be thicker, depending on the size of your third pan). You could use three 9″ cake pans, but the original recipe calls for stamping two layers out of a sheet of cake and using the leftover scraps to make the third layer. I figured baking two round layers and crumbling cake made in a third sheet pan would model this closely enough. You can always leave out some scraps from the third sheet pan if you want your layers thinner.
  • The larger size meant that the acetate (transparency sheets) sheets weren’t big enough to span the circumference of the cake. So we layered them–don’t worry if you can’t find big enough sheets.
  • I didn’t have cake rings, so I used a cake pan as the bottom support and lined it with foil so I could lift the cake out after freezing.
  • I skipped the citric acid and squeezed a few drops of lime juice into the frosting instead.
  • I skipped the glucose and added half the amount of light corn syrup instead, a swap that totally worked thanks to the tip from Cassie at Bake Your Day who also made this cake.

I highly recommend reading the entire recipe through multiple times before starting. This, like other Momofuku creations, is complicated. But it yields a very economical (not a scrap is wasted) creation, not to mention a dense yet fluffy cake studded with color and sparkle and actual crunch from the cake crumbs. The crumbs are amazing. I want to make all my cakes with crumbs from now on.

Momofuku Birthday Layer Cake, bigger
Adapted from Bake Your Day and That Baker Chick. Original recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar

Yield: 1 triple-layer 9″ cake (would hypothetically feed about 20, plus midnight snacking)

You’ll need: 2 round cake pans, 1 9×13 pan, foil, acetate (plastic transparencies, but you can possibly use a silpat or nothing at all–jury seems to be divided) and a pastry brush (optional)

Time: ~2 hours for baking/assembly + 12 hours for freezing + 3 hours for defrosting = 17 hours

Ingredients:

for the layer cake:
1 batch birthday cake (recipe below)
1 batch birthday cake crumbs (recipe below)
1 batch birthday cake soak (recipe below)
1 batch birthday cake frosting (recipe below)

birthday cake:
4 cups cake flour [I used 3 and 1/2 c. AP flour + 1/2 cup cornstarch]
3 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
1 stick salted butter, room temperature [if you only have unsalted, add 1/4 tsp salt to dry ingredients]
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
6 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk [I used almond milk + dash of apple cider vinegar]
2/3 cup canola oil
4 tsp. clear imitation vanilla extract

birthday cake crumbs:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
1.5 cup cake flour [or 1.5 cups AP flour minus 3 tbl flour + 3 tbl cornstarch] 
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt [can use 1/4 cup oil here instead if you’re not feeling the healthy sub] 
1.5 tbsp. clear imitation vanilla extract

birthday cake soak:
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp McCormick brand clear imitation vanilla extract [I ran out of clear vanilla here and used regular. This is probably the best place to use regular vanilla if you run out of clear vanilla]

birthday cake frosting:
2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp clear imitation vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch baking powder
pinch lime juice (optional)

Directions

for the birthday cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two 9″ cake pans and a 9×13 pan extremely well. I used the PAM baking spray with flour on top of non-stick pans and had zero problems. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 cup sprinkles in a small bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside for later.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Add the eggs (all at once) and then beat again on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, add the wet ingredients (buttermilk, canola oil, and imitation vanilla) in a steady stream. Increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for another 4 to 6 minutes. The mixture should double in size and turn pale. Don’t stop mixing until the mixture is completely homogeneous, with no visible streaks of oil or fat.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, and mix for another minute or so until the ingredients are just combined.

Pour out the batter into the prepared pans, spreading it out into an even layer. Cover with the remaining sprinkles.

Bake for 30–35 minutes until the cake bounces back slightly when gently pressed in the corner. The center of the cake should no longer jiggle when the pan is shook. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

for the birthday cake crumb:
Preheat the oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or piece of parchment.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix on low speed until combined.

Stream in the oil and the imitation vanilla on low speed and continue beating the mixture until the ingredients clump and form small clusters. Mix in the yogurt, if using. This will make the clusters more sticky and less clumpy, but they will harden after baking!

Carefully spread the clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes, breaking up occasionally. They will be slightly moist but will harden as they cool. Let them cool completely before using.

for the birthday cake soak:
Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small cup or bowl.

for the birthday cake frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and the cream cheese for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Add the corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and glossy white.

Add the powdered sugar, baking powder, and lime juice, if using, on low speed until just combined. Crank the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is stark white and fluffy.

assembling the layer cake:
Trim the edges off of the two 9″ cake layers. Line one 9″ cake pan with enough foil to cover the interior and and hang off the edges so you can lift the cake out later. Grease foil. Crumble the cake from the 9×13 pan into the foil and use your hands to press down into a flat, even layer. This is the bottom layer of the cake. 

Dunk the pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak. [I just kind of poured half of it over the cake]

Spread one fifth of the birthday cake frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the birthday cake crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. Top with another fifth of the birthday cake frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the crumbs.

Ease a sheet of acetate in between the bottom cake layer and the side of the pan until you have a clear ring of acetate at least 9-10 inches tall, or high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one fifth of the frosting, one third of the cake crumbs, and another one fifth of the frosting.

[Alternatively, you could try using a silpat here in place of the acetate to support the cake during freezing. I haven’t tried it, but the cake is pretty sturdy and I think mine would have been okay.]

Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting. Garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs.

Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)

Three hours before serving, remove the pan from the freezer, and lift the cake out of the pan by the foil edges. Here, it’s easiest if one person gently holds the cake with both hands around the acetate while the other peels the foil off the bottom. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. (Wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

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41 responses to “Best Funfetti Birthday Cake

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  2. One day, when I finally get over to visit the states, I’ll be making. Definite trek to Momofuku milk bar which is pretty much in my top 3. This cake looks divinely delicious, like a lot of fun and super cute to boot. I’ll bet it tasted amazing! Cake by the pound is a brilliant idea. Once you do open up and sell your wares, I’ll be making sure your place is on my travel list too 🙂

    • Aw thanks 🙂 Let me know when you get over here!! I’ll make it my excuse to get up to NYC 😉 If you can get here from Sydney, then I should be able to get there from Houston right? Hah. I was joking with my friend (not really joking actually) that we should go pretend to be married and do the cake tasting there (it sounds. Amazing). He is almost as big of a cake fan as me!

  3. I love the cake by the pound idea. Layer cakes are the best, and I would make them all the time if I could keep up with eating them (and not gain 300 lbs).

    • Twins! That’s exactly how I feel about layer cakes! Ughh so good. If only someone could make like a detox layer cake that’s actually good for you!!

    • Hahaha aww thanks…but right?? I feel like cake by the pound is a winning idea, let me just hop on over to MBA school first so I can make a business out of it…

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    • OH my god no way!!! Where do you work??? She is one of my baking idols and I would LOVE to meet her. Lol just gotta move to NYC first so I can bump into her…

      …and thanks so much! 🙂

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  6. OMG Erika. I am blown away! I love love love how you adapted it – i’ve seen the original version before. Erika, this is gorgeous and what a FUN post. I love anything and everything about sprinkles! And yes, i love big giant layered cakes (even better than cupcakes!) This cake was a lot of work but SO worth it girl!

    • Aww thank you so much Sally! Sprinkles ARE simply the best 🙂 And layer cakes! You’re totally right–it was really time-consuming but much more fun since I made it with someone and got to see everyone’s reactions while eating it!

    • Really?? You have to make one!! I love the rainbow confetti in cake form…it’s the only way I’ll eat white cake 🙂 And this one is fabulous. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

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  9. Omg! I’ve wanted to try this cake out for a while! But I’ve been a little too scared since it looks so complicated. I’ve only tried Momofuku’s easiest recipes. Yours looks amazing!

    • Aw thanks! Yeah, this cake sounds complicated, but it’s really just a bunch of steps. I think the “hardest” part is assembling it…which isn’t that hard! If you have the time, I’m sure you could conquer it easily! 🙂

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  11. Wow! That cake looks amazing! I so wish I could eat it right now haha! Thank you so much for coming by my blog. I hope you’ll follow it too. I’m now following yours and excited to see all your yummy stuff! 🙂

    • Thank you! For the compliment and for stopping by my blog as well! This cake is literally so good I want to share it with the entire world, especially all of you lovely, talented food bloggers 🙂

      And already ahead of you–I hit follow the minute I saw those chocolate pumpkin squares! 🙂

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    • I do! I really do. As long as you slice the cake layers flat, I really think that you could layer on the frosting and crumbs three layers high without it tipping, or even becoming that unwieldy. I just recommend making sure everything is as straight as possible when it goes in the freezer because once it freezes crooked, it’s impossible to correct!

      As long as you are willing to accept a few potential imperfections here or there, I think you would be fine without acetate. And it’s worth making, despite all the craziness! I thought it was fabulous, even without using glucose or citric acid, which the original recipe calls for. I wouldn’t bother buying them if you don’t have them already. Vegetable shortening, light corn syrup and clear imitation vanilla was enough of a stray from my normal baking products for me!

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  17. Oh I completely agree with you… layer cakes are so underrated. They’re a blast to make and when you get to slice into them and see the pretty filling and layers… heaven!! This cake looks divine. Yum!

    • Thank you for the comment 🙂 Their chocolate cookies look amazing!! The Momofuku apple pie cake is on my list next…good thing there’s lots more birthdays around the corner!

  18. Oh god I started drooling reading this, so going to try!!!!! Mmmmmmm cake by the pound…

    • It WAS incredible! I can’t wait to make more momofuku cakes despite the crazy time-intensity…your apple pie layer cake post definitely caught my eye 🙂 Thank YOU for all your help!

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