Without trying to sound like a one woman pity party, my birthday kind of sucks sometimes.
It regularly falls within that golden trifecta of long weekend/AFL Grand Final/Royal Show, meaning that when I was growing up kids couldn’t come to my birthday party because they were going away for the holidays or going to the show. As an adult, people can’t come to my birthday because they’re sneaking off for the weekend or getting balls-wasted for the grand final and aren’t in much shape to kick on after. Luckily, my friends and family are awesome, and always make me feel 100% loved. Except for that one year where we all kind of forgot it was my birthday, and no one said anything until mid-afternoon. Not that I’m holding onto that…
The older I get, the more I try to hold on to being young. Not in a stuffing-my-face-full-of-fillers-and-botox kind of way, more of a lets-get-a-bouncy-castle-and-build-forts kind of thing. This year I convinced Jacqui from Where the Wind Blows Me and her partner S to the Swan Valley at 7am on a Sunday morning to have a crack at Stampede in the Valley – a 4km, mud filled obstacle course for those too terrified of the Tough Mudder. We got muddy, sweaty, giggly, sustained minor injuries and generally had a blast.
Which leads me to the next birthday…
Today is the first birthday of eatmeetswest! Huzzah!
I have trouble believing that it’s been a year. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, in others I feel like I started yesterday. I’ve made some of the best friends, gotten to participate in events I’ve only dreamed of, and eaten some seriously good food. I’ve learnt more about food, writing and myself than I could have imagined. I struggle to wrap my head around that my words have been read in almost every country, and I thank you ALL so much for doing so.
And there is nothing that makes me prouder or more excited than when someone tells me that they’ve made something I’ve posted – and it didn’t blow up spectacularly. It’s even better if they liked it. Winning.
Now, to birthday cake.
There’s only one way to go when you’re making birthday cake. None of this serious, shmancy stuff. I go all out with diabetes inducing, frivolous, sprinkle laden fun. Because that’s what birthday cake is all about!
Now, the queen of this kind of dessertry is Christina Tosi. I talked about David Chang from Momofuku a little while ago, and Christina is his dessert protege. Her book, Momofuku Milk Bar is basically a sugar induced coma to read.
Obviously, the recipes are how they make them in the shop, so this recipe looks a little complicated, but it’s really not. There’s the cake (duh) and icing. But there’s also this gorgeous crumb and a soak that goes between the layers. For simplicity sake, you can skip these if you want, but I do recommend you keep the crumb. It’s stupidly easy, and sooooo yum. I’m also choosing to ignore how they assemble the cake, just because I think it’s unnecessarily fussy. But, if you want to go full Christina, you can follow the instructions here.
Oh, and one more thing, the recipe is really American. You can get glucose syrup at the supermarket, but corn syrup is trickier to get. I’ve seen it in baking shops, the David Jones food court, specialty shops. I substituted with honey, just use a smidge less. If you don’t have grapeseed oil, use vegetable (but not olive oil).
So, to say thank you beyond words for stopping by, I’d like to give you something!
A) the recipe for the most fun birthday cake IN THE WORLD (please see below)
B) The chance to win a copy of Jamie Oliver’s new book, 15 Minute Meals, which is excellent. See the bottom of the post for how to enter!
Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake
Birthday cake crumbs
100 grams granulated sugar
25 grams light brown sugar
90 grams cake and pastry flour
2 grams baking powder
2 grams salt
20 grams rainbow sprinkles
40 grams grapeseed oil
12 grams vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix together the dry ingredients until evenly combined. Add the vanilla and oil until the mixture begins to clump together. You can ‘help’ this process by smushing bits together by hand.
Spread the clumps in a thin layer onto the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool completely.
245 grams cake and pastry flour
6 grams baking powder
3 grams salt
50 grams rainbow sprinkles
115 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
250 grams granulated sugar
50 grams light brown sugar
3 large eggs
110 grams buttermilk
65 grams grapeseed oil
8 grams vanilla extract
25 grams rainbow sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 170°C . Like a cake tin with baking paper and grease.
Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and 50 grams of the sprinkles. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs and then mix again until completely combined. Slowly mix the buttermilk, oil and vanilla, then increase the speed and beat for a further 5 minutes, until the mix doubles in size and is fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Pour into the cake tin, and cover with remaining sprinkles. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Birthday cake soak
55 grams milk
4 grams vanilla extract
Combine the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
Birthday cake icing
200 grams icing sugar
2 grams salt
Pinch baking powder
Pinch citric acid
165 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
55 grams cream cheese
25 grams glucose
18 grams clear corn syrup
12 grams vanilla extract
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add the glucose, corn syrup and vanilla, beat until smooth and glossy. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed, then up the speed and mix until fluffy.
Cut the cake in half (or thirds if your cake is smaller but taller) lengthways. With a brush, press some the soak into the first layer of cake. Be generous. Then, spread a layer of icing. Sprinkle a handful of the crumbs over the icing, pressing them in gently. Then, another layer of icing (gently, so the crumbs don’t move. Repeat, if your cake is in thirds.
Carefully place the top later of cake on top. Ice the top with a generous layer of icing, and decorate with remaining crumbs. It helps if you put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up before serving.
Tell me about your favourite birthday in the comments below – did you get the pony you always wanted? A surprise party? Too many jelly shots and your nana danced on a table? I’ll pick the best!
I’ll announce the winner next week!