snickerdoodles

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this past summer, I took some time to visit old friends who had moved to europe. it is wonderful, the way that time and distance can disappear when one reunites with a good friend. my first leg was berlin, a city I could see myself living in one day.

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view from the french cathedral, gendarmenmarkt

in berlin, evenings spent at hole-in-the-wall restaurants where the tables spilled into the streets turned into late nights spent sipping beers with good company and counting rats along the riverbank, or dancing, or chatting around sticky tables in smoke-filled dark bars. days were spent biking to flea markets, napping in the dry blazing heat at parks, stopping through coffee shops across the city, and marveling at the artifacts, paintings, and bullet hole-riddled walls of berlin’s museums. everything was closed on sundays, and the city seemed all the more alive for it.

I have to say that I failed to try any traditional german fare, instead enjoying the cuisine of their sizable immigrant population, from delicious south vietnamese fish to burning hot korean fried chicken wings to late-night doner kebabs.

since returning from europe, I have moved to washington, dc. to break in the oven (and bribe/befriend my new classmates), I decided to bake up a batch of cookies. apparently, snickerdoodles might come from an english butchering of a german word, schneckennudel, or “snail noodles”… or it might just be a nonsensical name invented by someone in new england. either way, in my mind, snickerdoodles are a quintessential american cookie, a food of comfort after weeks on the road.

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makes ~1 1/2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 tbsp (138g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar + 2 tbsp (divided)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
samantha seneviratne. snickerdoodles. new york times. 17 february 2017. accessed 23 august 2017.

1 heat oven to 375ºF. (I baked different batches at 350ºF, 375ºF, and 400ºF in my electric non-convection oven and the 375ºF worked best; if you have a convection oven, you may want to lower the temperature.)
2 in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
3 in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and 3/4 cup guar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. beat in the egg until creamy, then add the vanilla, again scraping down the sides. add the flower mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until just combined. (don’t over beat, as your cookies will become too tough!)
4 place the dough in the fridge, covered, for 10-30 minutes.
5 in a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and cinnamon. roll the dough into golf ball-sized balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
6 transfer the dough to parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart. bake the cookies unitil just set and dry in the center, 10-12 minutes. transfer each sheet to a rack to cool for 1-3 minutes, then transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
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matcha cheesecake

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the other day, my sister asked me for a matcha cheesecake recipe. after a busy june, I jumped at the chance to tie on my apron and pull out the kitchenaid for some recipe testing. I had also encountered some recent inspiration while dining at susanna foo’s newest venture, suga, when I had the chance to meet susanna foo herself and gain some insight into her mentality as a chef.

two decades ago, susanna foo’s eponymous restaurant in philly redefined chinese food in america, educating americans who were lucky enough to dine at her restaurant about the true pinnacles of chinese cuisine (with some french flair) during a time when most americans thought chinese cuisine consisted of moo shu pork and general tso’s chicken. to this day, one of my favorite dishes remains her take on squirrel fish (松鼠桂鱼), and my father owns and heavily uses her cookbooks.

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while sitting at the table next to ours, susanna foo tasted the potstickers, which she ate with no sauces or garnishes. she then critiqued the humble dish in the way only a serious, trained chef can – she noted they lacked salt, and that they were not juicy enough. until she mentioned it, I had thought the dumplings were honestly quite good, but when she pointed it out, I too began to note the nuances. after leaving the restaurant that night, I continued to reflect on the restless nature of good chefs as they constantly search for that perfect flavor and texture profile. even at the age that most people begin to think about retirement, susanna was still tasting, taking notes, and thinking of ways to improve.

while I will never pretend to have the training or the palate of a professional – as demonstrated by the ever-present cracks on my cheesecakes – I am constantly in awe of their commitment to improvement and can only hope that I’ve learned something from them.

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makes one 9-inch cheesecake

cookie crust
1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I used ~20-24 oreos, cream scraped off)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
cheesecake
680 g cream cheese, room temperature
113.5 g crème fraîche, divided
2 tbsp culinary-grade matcha powder
350 g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
swirl
28 g crème fraîche
1 tsp matcha powder
1 tbsp powdered sugar

adrianna adarme. matcha swirl cheesecake. a cozy kitchen. 10 june 2015. accessed 7 july 2017.
cookie crust|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. in a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter.
2 add the crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly.
3 bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely. wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in foil to waterproof it.
cheesecake|1 in a small bowl, whisk together the matcha with 28g of crème fraîche until all the matcha lumps are gone.
2 in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese and beat until smooth and fluffy (~2 minutes). add the matcha mixture, the remaining crème fraîche (~85 g), and the sugar, and beat until combined.
3 with the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. add the vanilla extract and salt.
swirl|1 in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche until smooth.
matcha, and powdered sugar
assembly|1 pour the matcha cream cheese filling into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. make sure it reaches the edges of the pan (I like to give the pan a few hard raps on the countertop).
2 make little dollops of the swirl mixture on the surface of the cheesecake. take a skewer or knife and marble the dollops.
3 place in a roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven, then fill the roasting pan with 2 inches of hot water. bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating once halfway through the baking time, until the cheesecake is set at the edges but still jiggly in the center. (if your cheesecake is browning too fast, tent it with foil.)
4 place on a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes, then in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. slice and serve.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

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I recently met a lovely girl from sydney, australia, named holly. we ran into each other while skiing and I spent the next three days winded, quads burning, trying (and failing) to keep up with her. the best part of those hours was our time on the lift because 1. I got to rest(!); 2. holly, like all australians I’ve ever met, was extremely well-traveled and had a whole arsenal of interesting stories; and 3. I just liked listening to her aussie drawl.

I’ve always been intrigued by accents – it’s so strange how the minute someone begins talking, you know whether or not they have an accent, and if you’re especially worldly, you know exactly where their accent is from. and yet, when you talk, your cadences, your pronunciation, your slang all sound completely normal.

people have told me I sound like an american tv show. like I over-pronounce all my vowels and consonants. they tell me that american english sounds like people trying too hard to speak english. to me, new zealand english is clipped, fast, full of dropped sounds. some london accents sound posh and elegant, like how I wish I spoke english, others sound like the “t” and the “r” sounds just don’t exist. actually, in a lot of accents, it seems like the “r” sound disappears. it almost makes me feel like us americans are doing english wrong.

while riding on the lift, holly and I shared a chocolate chip cliff bar with our fellow lift mate, a marathoner from london. while we chatted, I began to think that food and accents actually are quite similar. there are so many variations on the same dish – take chocolate chip cookies, for example. christina tosi of momofuku milk bar throws pretzels and potato chips into hers; jacques torres lets his sit for at least 24 hours before baking. they’re all recognizable as a chocolate chip cookie, yet all clearly distinct.

then, by serendipity, one of my favorite dessert bloggers posted a lovely new spin on a chocolate chip cookie that I just had to try. I’ve had a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for a while now, but this recipe really might be my new favorite. in fact, it is so good, tahini may replace peanut butter as my new favorite condiment. and I ate peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every school day in high school. what can I say, I eat like an american tv show too.

choc tahini cookie 1

makes 12 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup tahini
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (>60% cocoa; I use ghirardelli 70% cocoa chips)
flaky salt
molly yeh. salted tahini chocolate chip cookies. my name is yeh. 6 jan 2016. accessed 16 jan 2015.

1 in a bowl, cream the butter*, tahini, and sugar until light and fluffy, ~5 minutes. add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, then continue mixing for another 5 minutes. (I mixed by hand with a spatula, but you can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.)
2 sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. using a spatula, fold flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. fold in chocolate chips.
3 line a baking sheet with parchment paper. using a 2-oz ice cream scoop, scoop 12 dough balls (I just used the standard-size one I have at home and it worked fine.) wrap baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 12 hours (do not skip!). (if you don’t have enough room in your freezer, you can put them in the fridge until hard enough to move them to a plastic gallon bag without getting squished.) cookie dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.
4 preheat oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or save the parchment paper from before and reuse). space the cookie balls at least 3-in apart to allow for spreading. bake for 13-16 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges. they will still look fairly unbaked in the middle. sprinkle with flaky salt immediately after they come out of the oven. allow to cool for ~20 minutes on the baking sheet (the center will set and finish baking).
*if your butter is not room temperature, melt a bit of it at a time and mix with the butter until it becomes a creamy consistency.

vanilla bean shortbread

vanilla bean shortbread 1

I still remember the first time I read “the love song of j. alfred prufrock.” since I was young, I have been fascinated by the idea of perfection, which morphed later in life into an interest in the literary elevation of the ordinary. in “love song”, eliot captures so many normally inconsequential occurrences, from rolled trousers to thinning hair to life measured in coffee spoons, and imbues them with portentous significance. these moments flow together and against each other into a poem that is at once a dismantling of eternal perfection and a “love song” to the passage of time measured in mundane moments, more specifically to the way that the passing of time slowly but steadily brings about disintegration.

and yet, rather than feel dread, eliot writes with a certain acceptance – after all, the universe inclines naturally towards entropy.

I love too, that in this poem time is not a sequential concept, but instead becomes something more like tangled and bunched string, how at moments we can seem to have enough time left in our lives, or too much; too little, or none at all.

in modern society, the tradition of a formal, mid-afternoon respite has been forgotten by the younger generation. to us, every moment is somehow measured and aging has become something to avoid, to rail against with all of one’s strength. we spin ever-forward, we pause to catch our breath, we commence again.

baking has long been my solace – when I find a free moment, I love to fill my space with the scents of sugar and butter. I roll out some shortbread or cookie dough, I boil a kettle of tea. I sit and I read, and time falls away.

the love song of j. alfred prufrock [excerpt] | by t.s. eliot
there will be time, there will be time
to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
there will be time to murder and create,
and time for all the works and days of hands
that lift and drop a question on your plate;
time for you and time for me,
and time yet for a hundred indecisions,
and for a hundred visions and revisions,
before the taking of the toast and tea.

 
makes one 8•8-in pan

255g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 tsp kosher salt
beans scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod
255g (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
75g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) cornstarch
70g + 55g (1/3 cup + 1/4 cup) granulated sugar, divided

 
elisabeth m. prueitt and chad robertson. tartine. san francisco: chronicle books, 2006.
1 preheat oven to 325ºF. butter an 8×8-in glass baking pan.
2 place the butter in a mixing bowl. the butter should be soft – with the consistency of mayonnaise. (if it is not, melt small portions of butter and mix into the rest of the butter, repeating until all of the butter is soft.) add salt and vanilla beans to butter and mix well with a wooden spoon until it dissolves completely.
3 sift flour and cornstarch together into a bowl.
4 add 70g granulated sugar (I used vanilla bean-infused sugar to add more vanilla flavor) to the butter and mix until just combined. add flour and fold into the butter just until a smooth dough forms.
5 press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. (the dough should be no more than 2/3-in deep. bake until top and bottom are lightly browned, ~30 min. very gently shake shortbread loose from the sides of the pan (the shortbread is very delicate, so be careful), then place the pan on a wire rack to cool until warm to the touch.
6 sprinkle shortbread with the remaining 55g granulated sugar. tilt the pan so sugar evenly coats the surface, then tip out excess sugar. while the shortcake is still warm, cut shortbread with a thin, sharp knife into 32 rectangular fingers (1-in x 2-in), or whatever dimensions you prefer.
7 chill pan throughly before removing shortbread. using a small offset spatula, gently lift shortbread out of the pan. shortbread will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for ~2 weeks.

bacon cheddar scones

bacon cheese scone 1

so I’m a self-confessed scone fanatic.

they’re just so versatile – perfect as breakfast, as an afternoon tea accompaniment, even as a dinner accompaniment. (for real though, scones + salad = winning combination.)

they also freeze up great, which is both bad (my freezer is now one-fourth occupied by various scones) and good (now a flaky, butter-laden treat is only a 25-minute bake away!) …and bad (now a flaky, butter-laden treat is only a 25-minute bake away!) .

anyways, over the years, I’ve run the gamut of scone flavor combinations, from ill-received matcha-pomegranate scones (I loved them! even if no one else did) to caraway-blueberry scones. but somehow, I’ve never done a full-on savoury scone. 

in general, scone recipes are sweet. it seems that in the great scone-biscuit divide, biscuits claimed a place at the dinner table while scones took over breakfast (and brunch became the uneasy DMZ, if you would).

but what if I told you that there existed a scone recipe with the perfect balance of sweet and savoury? the refreshing tang of crème fraîche and the golden melted chewiness of cheddar and the addicting smoked saltiness of bacon – all in one scone? yeah, it sounded crazy, overwhelming, impossible to me too.

presenting the solution to brunch with friends who claim to dislike sweets (but really, who are these people?!), the solution to that pastry craving that hits at dinner time. if scones are versatile, these bacon cheddar scones are the da vinci of scones – all-around perfection, and perfect for just about any occasion. 

bacon cheese scone 2
makes 12 scones

3/4 cup + 1 tsp (107g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup + 1/2tbsp (196g) cake flour
1 1/2 + 1/8 tsp (8g) baking powder
3/8 tsp (1.5g) baking soda
2 tbsp + 3/4 tsp (27g) granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp (3.5g) kosher salt
9 tbsp + 1 tsp (132g) cold unsalted butter, in 1/4-in cubes
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp (71g) heavy cream
1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp (89g) crème fraîche
12 oz (340g) smoked bacon, cooked, drained, and cut into 1/8-in pieces (~77g cooked weight)
2 + 1/2 cups (144 + 36g) grated white cheddar, divided
1/4 cup (10g) minced chives
freshly-ground black pepper

thomas keller and sebastien rouxel. bouchon bakery. new york: artisan, 2012

1 sift all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix on lowest setting for a few seconds to combine. add salt and mix again to combine.
2 stop the mixer, add butter, and on the lowest setting, mix until butter is well-coated in flour. increase the speed to low and mix to break up butter and incorporate it into the flour until butter is pea-sized (~3 minutes).
3 with the mixer running, slowly pour in the cream. add the crème fraîche and continue mixing until all dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together around the paddle (~30 seconds). scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for a few more seconds until well-combined.
4 add bacon, 144g cheese, and the chives and mix again on low until incorporated.
5 mound the dough on a plastic-wrapped work surface and, using the heal of your hand or a pastry scraper, push the dough together. place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough and using your hands, press the dough into a 7×9-in block, smoothing the top. press the sides of your hands or pastry scraper against the sides of the dough to straighten them. wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (~2 hours).
6 line a sheet pan with parchment paper. cut the block of dough lengthwise in half, then cut each half into six rectangles. arrange them on prepared sheet pan, lover with plastic wrap, and freeze until frozen solid (~2 hours, preferably overnight). scones can be frozen up to 1 month.
7 preheat convention oven to 325ºF (350ºF in standard oven). line sheet pan with parchment paper. arrange frozen scones 1-in apart on sheet pan. brush tops with cream and sprinkle with remaining 36g cheese. top with black pepper. bake for 24-27 minutes (33-36 min in standard oven), until golden brown. set sheet on cooling rack and cool completely before serving. (scones can be stored in covered container for one day.)

 
*time saver tip: I froze a few scones after sprinkling them with cheese and black pepper, then baked them up a week later. they come out with a golden-brown cheese topping as well, though the cheese does not spread as much as it did when baked from room temperature.

banana cream pie

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thanksgiving has always been one of my family’s favorite holidays.

I was born in the united states to foreign-born parents and raised speaking only english. but as soon as they saw my almond eyes and stubbornly straight black hair, everyone from my teachers to my classmates to the well-meaning grocery cashier would ask, “where are you from? but where are you really from?” though I had never identified as any nationality other than american, the people around me were all-too-ready to remind me that I did not look like them, that I was not one of them.

however, thanksgiving was a chance for us asian-americans to feel just as american as everyone else. we too could partake in the tradition – have our relatives over, eat buttery mashed potatoes and golden turkey. thanksgiving, after all, began as a celebration of the day when native americans welcomed starved, disoriented immigrants onto their soil, and the holiday became for us a sort of safe space, where we could speak in an amalgamation of chinese and english and still be perfectly understood.

some years, our thanksgiving table has had a chinese-style turkey as its centerpiece and chinatown cakes as dessert. other years, we’ve gone full-on traditional, serving up pumpkin and pecan pies, cornbread, and brined roast turkey. for the past few iterations, a new favorite dessert has crept into the mix: a banana cream pie. an all-american dessert atypical for thanksgiving, but perfect for our family gatherings. it’s a refreshing combination of airy whipped frosting, the natural sweetness of bananas, decadent french pastry cream, and a tender flaky crust – a western dessert with asian sensibility. 

looking back on the first thanksgiving, the pilgrims too took unfamiliar new world ingredients and crafted a western meal, roasting a never-before-seen bird and preparing novel vegetables alongside their native american neighbors. I imagine the native americans and the european settlers that would later become americans, two different languages, two different cultures, yet able to create a meal together. and despite all that has changed in the intervening centuries, I think – I hope – that the damage is not irrevocable and the melange of ethnicities in america lessens fear of the unknown, that almond eyes or skin tone or religion do not preclude full claim to the identification of “american”.

banana cream pie 1
makes one 10-inch pie

flaky tart dough
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup (156g) water, very cold
3 cups, 2 tbsp (455g) all-purpose flour
1 cup, 5 tbsp (300g) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
3oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
pastry cream
2 cups (454g) whole milk
beans scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup, 1 tbsp (115g) sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 tbsp (55g) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
final touches
2 cup (227g) heavy cream, very cold
2 tbsp sugar
4 ripe bananas sliced horizontally into 1/4-inch rounds
3oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate bar (for curls)

elisabeth m. prueitt and chad robertson. tartine. san francisco: chronicle books, 2006.

flaky tart dough|1 in a small bowl, add salt to water and stir to dissolve. keep very cold until ready to use.
2 place flour in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix on low speed until mixture forms large crumbs and pea-sized chunks of butter are visible. add saltwater mixture and at low speed until dough begins to come together but is not completely smooth.
3 on lightly floured work surface, divide dough into 2 equal balls and shape each ball into 1-inch thick disk. wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours minimum.
4 on lightly floured surface, roll out disk of dough 1/8-inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. lift and rotate dough every few rolls, and work quickly before dough becomes warm and sticky. carefully transfer to pie dish/tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom and sides. trim the dough so there is 1/2-inch overhang and fold under.
5 chill shell for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or freeze for up to 2 weeks).
6 preheat oven to 375ºF.
7 line pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. bake ~25 minutes until shell is light brown, remove weights and paper, and bake ~5 minutes, until golden brown.
8 let cool completely on wire rack before filling.
9 in a small saucepan, bring water to a simmer. in a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate until smooth. remove from heat.
10 spread chocolate evenly over bottom of pie shell. refrigerate for 10 minutes to set chocolate.
pastry cream|1 set up all ingredients beforehand and have a bowl ready for cooling pastry cream with a fine-mesh sieve resting on the rim.
2 pour milk into heavy saucepan. add salt and sugar. on medium-high heat, bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure milk solids don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
3 in a mixing bowl, beat together eggs and cornstarch until smooth.
4 slowly ladle ~1/3 hot milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. pour egg-milk mixture back into hot milk in saucepan and continue whisking over medium heat for ~2 minutes, until custard is as thick as lightly whipped cream. stir in vanilla extract. remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into bowl. let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5 cut butter into 1-tbsp pieces. whisk butter into pastry cream 1 tbsp at a time, always whisking until smooth before adding the next one.
6 cover cream with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly on top of cream. refrigerate until cooled. (pastry cream can be stored, well-covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.)
final touches|1 pour heavy cream into bowl of mixer fitted with whisk attachment. whip until thickened, add sugar, and continue to whip until cream holds medium-firm peaks.
2 fold ~1/2 cup whipped cream into cold pastry cream. gently fold banana slices into the pastry cream, then transfer pastry cream to pie shell.
3 using a spatula, spread whipped cream on top. to make chocolate flakes, use a chef’s knife to shave chocolate bar at a diagonal. scatter curls over the top of the pie.
4 chill pie until pastry cream is set, ~3 hours. serve pie cool. (pie will keep in fridge for 4 days.)

vegan momofuku milk bar funfetti cake

vegan funfetti 2

well that name’s a mouthful.

anyways, some backstory. the other day, a friend sent me a picture of christina tosi’s visually arresting funfetti cake. she’s one of the most creative bakers out there – it’s a treat to read through her recipes and marvel at the playful presentation of her desserts.

I actually took on the milk bar funfetti cake years ago. thankfully no pictures survive. my sister had requested it, and even though at that point the only cake products I’d made were muffins and brownies, I took on tosi’s recipe. it began to feel like the inception of cake recipe – layers upon layers of preparation of different components, then the assembly of said components into one round 6-inch cake.

first of all, man, does tosi have a sweet tooth. anyone who knows me (even if they’ve known me for only one day) can attest that I’m an unabashed sweets fiend, but even I have a limit to how much saccharine sweetness I can handle. the icing was fine, but the cake itself was sweet to the point that we all had two bites and just couldn’t take any more. I had also tried to assemble the cake without the acetate, and even though my cake layers were quite squat, the cake still managed to sag to one side. if I remember correctly, I also dumped too much liquid into the icing, so by the end of the meal, the icing had started to squelch out into a sad moat around the cake. so that was the last time in a looooong time that I tried to make a layer cake.

then earlier this year that I attempted a tosi-inspired cake again. and it actually won an office competition! (and made some enemies – success!) when my friend sent me that funfetti picture, I figured it was time to take on a real tosi recipe.

except then I didn’t. I veganified it so all my friends could enjoy it, and would you believe me if I said you really can’t tell it’s vegan? it’s just a really awesome, intensely vanilla cake filled with sugary pops of color. tosi recommends clear vanilla extract, which results in a whiter cake and a true boxed mix flavor, but I just love the savory undertones of vanilla beans. also, be careful with the sprinkles, I recently learned that some sprinkles use confectioner’s glaze, which is apparently the excrement of some kind of beetle?! (sorry if I just ruined your appetite…but hey, at least this cake is excrement-free!)

p.s. if you’re wondering, I’ve heard mccormick makes some vegan sprinkles, but I had no luck at my supermarket. I found my generic brand confectioner’s glaze-free sprinkles at a value store.

vegan funfetti
makes one 6-inch, 3-layer cake

cake
360g almond milk + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
210g sugar
68g vegetable oil
18g vanilla paste
250g all-purpose flour
27g cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
53g + 1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
vanilla frosting
153g vegan butter (I used earth balance)
102g vegetable shortening
285-330g powdered sugar, sifted
13g vanilla paste
2 tbsp almond milk
cake crumbs
100g sugar
25g light brown sugar
90g cake flour
2g baking powder
2g kosher salt
20g rainbow sprinkles
40g vegetable oil
9g vanilla paste
milk soak
27g almond milk + 2g vanilla extract

christina tosi. momofuku milk bar. new york: clarkson potter, 2011.
isa chandra moskowitz. vegan cupcakes take over the world: 75 dairy-free recipes for cupcakes that rule. new york: da capo press, 2006.

cake|1 mix together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for at least 5 minutes. grease three 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. preheat oven to 350ºF.
2 in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together sugar, oil, and vanilla paste until frothy.
3 in a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, then gently mix 2/3 cup sprinkles in to the batter.
4 pour into the cake pans (~330g/pan), tap on the counter to level the batter, then bake for 22-25 minutes, until the tops are springy. let cool in pans for another 15 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool.
frosting|1 in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and shortening for 2-3 minutes, until light and creamy.
2 add powdered sugar and beat on low to incorporate, then beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. add vanilla paste and beat for another minute until well-combined.
crumbs|1 preheat oven to 300ºF.
2 in a small mixing bowl, combine sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. using a fork, stir ingredients until well-combined.
3 add oil and vanilla and mix again with the fork until the mixture forms clusters.
4 pour crumb mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. let cool completely before using.
milk soak|1 combine almond milk and vanilla. set aside.
assembly|1 if cakes are domed, level each layer. place the 2nd best-looking layer on the bottom and brush with the cake soak. dollop some icing on top, then spread almost to the edges. scatter some birthday crumbs on top, then press into the icing (with the back of your hand or a knife). spread some more icing over the top of the crumbs.
2 place the worst-looking layer on top, brush with cake soak, dollop icing on top, scatter crumbs, press them into the icing, and spread on more icing.
3 place the remaining cake layer on top. cover the top with icing, then crumb coat the cake with the remaining icing. press the remaining birthday crumbs into the top of the cake.
4 transfer the cake to the freezer and freeze for at least 12 hours to set the cake. at least 3 hours before serving, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge.