Birthday Cake Cupcakes (Inspired by Momofuku)

I live in a small town. We don't really have much of a culinary scene. No cool restaurants. No bakeries with cronuts. No innovation. Until a couple years ago, when we finally got a bakery! That makes delicious things! They're not boring!

Our food scene needed it. We're no New York - we're the furthest thing from it - but this bakery was a start, and now we're getting more interesting and innovative restaurants nearby.

Anyways, I bring this up because we stopped by the other day and they had birthday cake cupcakes, inspired by Momofuku Milk bar's birthday cake. They baked the crumb into the cake like a streusel, and processed the crumb to mix into the frosting as well. Pure genius. 

And, because I wasn't just going to only have one of these cupcakes, I found a way to replicate them at home. And now I'm sharing it with you guys because the world needs to know about it.

If making the entire fancy layered cake in the Momofuku cookbook is too much for you, I don't blame you. It's an ordeal. Cupcakes are way easier. And sometimes you don't need an entire cake in your house... Make cupcakes! If you want to hand it out to friends, make cupcakes!

It's really just the best of both worlds.

Do you guys live near any good bakeries? Do your towns or cities have local favorites?



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Birthday Cake Cupcakes (Inspired by Momofuku) 

1 recipe vanilla cake (from a box, your favorite recipe, our ours provided below)

1 recipe Birthday Cake Crunch (recipe below)

1 recipe Vanilla Buttercream

Preheat the oven and prepare your cake batter and divide into cupcake tins. Sprinkle some of the birthday cake crumb on top of each cupcake like streusel, and bake for the directed time. They'll be done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting: put the remaining crumb in a food processor and grind into fine crumbs. Mix into the frosting.

Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.


Birthday Cake

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. don’t rush the process. you’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for that liquid. there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the 50 g (¼ cup) rainbow sprinkles. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. sprinkle the remaining 25 g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.

6. bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). the cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.


Birthday Cake Crunch

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 300°f.

2. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. the wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°f.

5. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or scarfing by the handful. stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.


Vanilla Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
About 3 tablespoons heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the salt, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated. Add another 2 cups sugar and the cream. Add remaining cup of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting. Beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.


Cake and Crumb from Momofuku Milk Bar, Frosting from Joy the Baker, idea from Confectioneiress