Monday, June 13, 2016

EASY, 1 day, 3-layer chocolate cake. A Milk Bar­­® Store style cake.

This ended up to be 8" tall!

For a couple of years now, I have been wanting to bake a cake the Milk Bar® Store way: it is a NAKED CAKE which means it is not frosted from the outside of the cake but the frosting can be found piled in between 3 layers of cake and on top. It's 5-6" high in a tower-style assemblage, glued together by a dense filling made of custard (or so), a fruit jam of some-kind and a textural component made of another kind of ingredient or recipe (like nuts or cookie balls, etc.).

Momofuku® is the innovative and trendy restaurant from New York created and conceptualized by Korean-American multi-awardee chef David Chang and Milk Bar Bakery is the pastry department of the said restaurant run and conceptualized by also a multi-awarded and TV personality pastry chef Christina Tosi.

Okay I get it: it takes almost 3 days for you to be able to see and eat the final concept of their cakes.

Almost all of their cakes are just as what I described in the first paragraph above. It just varies by the flavor of the cakes; the fillings, liquid soaks, jams and the crumbs-all crammed in using an acetate plastic and a stainless steel, 3" high cake ring. They are supposed to be 6" in diameter.

See the cake photos here? They were not baked in a round cake pan. Instead, these cakes came out of a sheet pan. How did I made it round? Using a cake ring cutter. Now that's a trademark "Tosi-Milk Bar innovation". For details-please read on.

Two years ago, while reading Tosi's first cookbook-"Momofuku milk bar" (Clarkson Potter, 2011), I was amazed at how she made everything so 21st century-from cookies to pies and yes-the cakes. There are some ingredients on some recipes that are not for your average home use. It has ingredients that can only be found in a commercial bakery (glucose, citric acid, etc...). As a home cook, it was too much for me; but as I have said before: I am trying to learn new stuff-hence I don't mind these extra geeky ingredients.

In this post, I really did not follow a MB cake recipe. I do plan to make one of their cake recipe from scratch-when I am relaxed and have all the time in the world. For now, I used my own recipe to create an easy MB style cake-ready within 12 hours instead of 3 days.

Trying to figure out how Tosi's mind works was awe-inspiring. Her cakes were a "project", a DIY day. Since my car is getting some 'face lift' the past few days, I finally have the reason to have the time to make this 'project' a reality but only to my specification and the availability of resources.

Here, I really did not follow any MB cake recipe. This post happened because:

1. just wanted to learn how to assemble the cake;
2. the ingredients/materials are available.
This is mostly a post on deconstructing MB cakes. The idea of a semi-homemade cake and NOT  from scratch is mine due to

3. time constraints. 

So this is how I figured out a Milk Bar store cake.  

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: as I said above, the cake is not baked in a regular round pan. I was able to purchase below materials from eBay for less than $20.00 including shipping. Try to find "free shipping"

1 13 x 9 sheet pan (also called quarter sheet pan)
1 6"(diameter) x 3"(ht) cake ring
2 sheets of acetate plastic sheets;  3" wide and 20" long.

Note: Tosi's cakes are made from scratch. I made mine from a boxed cake mix and I only have chocolate cake mix so that's what I used. I added unsweetened cocoa to make it a dark chocolate cake. I added extra fat or oil (for tenderness) because I added more dry ingredients (the cocoa). 


1 box chocolate cake mix
Ingredients called for in the cake mix 
Add 2 T unsweetened cocoa
Add 2 T vegetable oil

Dump everything in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, set on the lowest power and combine until well incorporated; about 1 minute. Bake according to package instructions or until a toothpick inserted all the way at the bottom of the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

While baking the cake, prepare the...


1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup anisette
2 T honey or pancake syrup

Stir in a small bowl until well combined, set aside.

  • To bind the bottom-most layer of the cake which is made from cake crumbs and scraps;
  • To moisten and give more flavor to the other 2 layers of cakes.
Note: MB liquid soaks are either made from "flavored milk with extracts, Ovaltine, etc; fruit juices and/or liquors" depending upon the flavor of the cake. For this recipe, I will use the latter since I have rum and anisette. If you have kids and minor/s eating your cake, use a fruit juice or milk-based soak. Again, it will depend upon the flavor of the cake you want to bake/use. Think of something that will go well with your chosen cake flavor.


  • To serve as 'glue' for the cake and other kinds of fillings.
  • For structure 
Note: Tosi usually uses a cream cheese or butter-based filling; a beaten cheesecake filling, etc. Something creamy but has the ability to hold the cakes and several layers of jams, nuts/crisps/crumbs. In some of her cakes, she uses 2 kinds of fillings, in some it has 1 kind filling. 

My version of a "Filling"

2 tubs of marshmallow creme, 7 oz each
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat and combine well until creamy. Set aside.


  •  For texture; to cut the monotony of wet, soft and creamy textures.
Note: as I was reading the recipe for most of her "crumbs" in any of the cakes, I realized that it all sounds like a shortbread cookie batter (or butter cookies). The ingredients repeats itself on all "crumbs" with "flour, sugar, butter or oil" as main ingredients, save for the signature flavor or ingredient for each cake. Example: for their Birthday Cake cake, the crumbs has "jimmies sprinkles"; the Chocolate Malt Layer Cake has "milk powder"-lots of it! 

Back to my crumbs: last month, I bought this Italian-style wafer cookies called "pizzelle" (photo below by Cost Plus World Market®). It was dirt cheap, on sale! I haven't had a pizzelle before so I grabbed a box (it has 3 pouches), just so I can say "look a pizzelle!" not knowing it taste awful. Bland. Like a cocoa-flavored water crackers-that's how I can describe it. Anyway, I thought I'd use it for the crumbs instead. The finished product was delicious! It's like I made another product out of it; like mini-Oreo balls!

2 pouches chocolate flavored pizzelle cookies, finely crushed into a meal using a food processor.
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 T unsweetened cocoa
2 T sugar

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Form into mini cookie balls the size of marbles. Set aside.


Note: One KIND of filling should have been enough from what I figured out in some of MB cakes. I have no idea why I have to shove more fillings. Maybe because the MB cake I was trying to use as guide has fruit jam in it or maybe I just wanted to get 2 jars of fruit.

1 jar of  raspberry jam, 10 oz
1 jar of orange marmalade, 10 oz

Dump each in separate bowls; set aside.


To assemble, I will have to link you to Serious Eats site where they visited a demo class going on at the Milk Bar Store kitchen. I will be writing here the same things so it would be better if you get the idea firsthand from the pros; it is the same site I learned to assemble mine. 


Although I am proud of what I did-the deconstructing, the how-to's, the assembling- it's a cake I am not too eager to serve to guests and friends. My husband thought so too.

The taste was average. The cake was dry even if it was soaked with the liquor. The jams made the overall cake too sweet. It was like a "fake black forest cake in a MB style assemblage".

The only thing I like about it was the marshmallow-based filling and the crumbs so I am keeping the recipe of it. They were awesome tasting fillings! I will also keep this method-"my own method of making a MB style cake". It is like the "mass producing way of making a MB cake": by using semi-homemade ingredients. Maybe I would have to think better combinations of cake vs fillings and soaks to have it work. Getting good quality cake mix should work too.

I still recommend following Milk Bar's recipes for this kind of cake. There's a reason why it is done the way it is, why the recipe for each layer is the way it is. And that's because-amidst the strange and chaotic way it is prepared, the long wait before you can savor their cakes-there is actually ORDER and it really works perfectly fine.

Cake ring

Acetate sheet

A box of pizzelle

For the original Milk Bar cakes and recipes.
For the Milk Bar cookbook mentioned in this post.

Please message me if you have questions about the recipe or this post. Thanks for reading.