I have a new obsession: the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. And, yes, I realize I'm a little late to this party. But hear me out. I have known that there is a bakery in New York called Momofuku Milk Bar that's famous for things like Crack Pie, Cereal Milk, and Compost Cookies. They've always sounded interesting and tasty, but I'd never actually been to the bakery or tried any of them and I have oh, about 200 cookbooks, so I didn't really get that have-to-have-it feeling about Momofuku Milk Bar.
|Please excuse my kitchen; it needs a serious makeover!|
But then Christina Tosi was a guest judge on The Taste this past season, and I was immediately drawn to her personality during the episode. She just seemed like a super-happy, super-creative dessert-loving person, who may very well be on a constant sugar high. (After reading her cookbook, that seems pretty likely. She admits to having "a crippling cookie dough problem.") Something about the way she talked about desserts and how passionate she was got me, and I ordered her cookbook the next day.
I read it cover to cover when it arrived and felt even more inspired by Tosi. I loved reading the introduction about how Momofuku Milk Bar came to be and the "Real Talk" section, which details what it's like working at the bakery, being a hardbody, and how to apply that at home. (I was mentally comparing it to my own experience baking at Flour as I read.)
Once I got through the ingredient and equipment sections, I pored over the recipes, trying to decide what to make first. I quickly realized that this is the sort of cookbook that should come with a starter kit. I bake a lot and own a lot of baking equipment and random ingredients, but the things called for in this book were really throwing me for a loop. Glucose? Citric acid? It sounded like stuff I'd need for a science experiment!
The birthday layer cake got my attention, so I started listing everything I'd need to make it (all four components of it -- birthday cake, birthday cake soak, birthday cake frosting, and birthday cake crumb) and decided that since I was getting supplies for that recipe anyways, I'd choose a couple more -- confetti cookies and chocolate chip layer cake -- to make hunting for/ordering supplies more worthwhile.
In addition to everything I had at home, here's what I had to track down and where I found it:
- 6-inch cake ring (Sur La Table)
- Quarter sheet pan -- it looks like it will be too small, but it's perfect (King Arthur Flour)
- Citric acid (King Arthur Flour)
- Acetate strips/cake collars (Global Sugar Art)
- Glucose (Michaels)
- Rainbow sprinkles (The Cupcake Social)
- Clear vanilla extract (Stop & Shop and Roche Brothers both carry it -- right next to regular vanilla)
- Grapeseed oil and milk powder (pretty easy to find at a grocery store)
- Passion fruit puree (Goya brand in the freezer section of the grocery store)
- Valrhona cocoa powder (Whole Foods)
And some useful things I already had:
- Cookie scoops (I like the OXO ones)
- Baby offset spatula
- Pastry brush
- 6-inch cake pans (Because I needed my cake ring for the second cake, I assembled the first one in a cake pan instead of in the cake ring. It worked so well that I assembled the second one in a cake pan too. Just line the bottom and up the sides with a piece of plastic wrap first, so you can use the wrap to pull the finished cake out.)
Once I had everything I needed on hand, I had a lot of fun making the recipes. I actually started with the confetti cookies. They use the same birthday cake crumb as the birthday layer cake, so I made a double batch of it to save myself some time when I got around to making the cake. The cookies came out great and the dough lasts for a week in the fridge, so we'd bake some off each night and eat them fresh. (And since I scooped smaller portions of dough than the cookbook calls for, I still have a bunch of unbaked cookies in the freezer.)
|Sorry I only took an iPhone photo of these!|
There's nothing super-unusual about making these cookies, but they do use glucose and this was my first time working with it. I can only describe it as melted lollipop. It's thick, sticky, and unruly. I felt like I wasted just as much as I tried to use for the cookies. By the time I got to making the birthday layer cake, I developed a little system for it. I quickly scooped it with my cookie scoop into the measuring cup where I'd already weighed out my corn syrup. The corn syrup helped keep the glucose from sticking to the measuring cup.
The cakes were a lot of fun to make and assemble -- if you enjoy that sort of thing. And, of course, I do. Each cake starts with making cake batter and baking it in a quarter sheet pan. Once the cake is cool, you have to cut out two circles with the cake ring and then two half circles (which, along with the scraps, form the bottom cake layer). The birthday layer cake gets brushed with a milk and clear vanilla extract mixture and features layers of birthday cake crumb and vanilla frosting.
Chocolate chip layer cake may sound pretty boring, but this one is anything but. The cake layers are basically yellow cake with lots of mini chips, but they get brushed with passion fruit puree and decked out with layers of chocolate crumb, passion fruit curd, and coffee buttercream. It might sound strange, but the combination is incredible. I loved this cake.
Especially after I got over my frustration with the coffee buttercream, which was refusing to come together for me. You're supposed to beat confectioners' sugar and butter together in a stand mixer and then slowly drizzle in coffee milk. My butter did not want to absorb the coffee milk, and I had the mixer going for nearly an hour. I was about to give up and make the espresso buttercream from the Flour cookbook, which I know comes out beautifully. I took the bowl off the mixer and just before I dumped the failed frosting, I thought I'd try whisking it by hand. The frosting came together in seconds (which was a lifesaver because it was almost 11 p.m. and I had the cake already one-fourth assembled!).
I have a lot more recipes queued up to make from this book, and I'm sure I'll end up telling you about them as I go. I'm so happy I finally purchased the cookbook, and I'm really enjoying trying out the different recipes and using new-to-me ingredients. (I'm not sharing the recipes for what I made here because I made them as written, so I definitely recommend that you get the cookbook!) If I lived in New York, I'd take a class with Tosi in a heartbeat!
What cookbooks are inspiring you lately?
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