Milk Bar Cake Class, Brooklyn
Disclaimer: I’d like to apologize to those of you who hate the word ‘moist’ right now. I have substantially used it in this blog post to describe these delectable cakes!
You’ve seen their cakes. Drooled over their cookies. Desired their soft serve. Milk Bar bakery and its founder Christina Tosi have become synonymous with whimsical, over the top but technically detailed, tasty, sugary treats. Whenever I visit New York City, a stop for their incredible Compost Cookie and Crack Pie is a must. My most recent trip to the city was to celebrate my upcoming birthday with my sister, who loves to bake even more than I do. Her treats, especially her ‘buckeyes’ are luxurious and the best there are. We decided that a sister dessert adventure was mandatory and were thrilled to discover that Milk Bar offers cake classes in their incredible space in super hip Williamsburg for cake lovers like us, who are not super hip. For $90 each we spent a few hours in the sunny, spacious kitchen crafting our own Milk Bar birthday cakes to take home. From start to finish, this experience was phenomenal. Led by a fellow cheery Ohioan (we are seriously everywhere...even Christina Tosi herself was born there) we were directed on how to craft and decorate our own tasty, Instagram worthy cake. No baking is involved but Milk Bar generously offers their recipes online and in their ‘must add to your culinary library’ cookbooks. Get a copy today and start tempting your friends and family with your own version of this insanely delicious treat.
After an amazing breakfast at Sunday in Brooklyn (get the malted praline pancakes, trust me) we wandered a few blocks over to Milk Bar’s open kitchen and ‘straight out of Brooklyn’ space for our cake class. Do not make the mistake we did...go hungry. You get to munch on cake scraps and truffles and while breakfast was amazing, we were full before class even began!
The class workspace was large, sunny and highly organized. Our class had about 35 attendees with two bachelorette parties, a mother with her two small children, a couple and some other friend groups looking for a fun and unique weekend experience. This is a class for everyone!
Our own vanilla rainbow cakes awaited us at each workstation. Apparently the recipe for this cake took 3 years to perfect and it shows in each detailed step. Nothing about this cake is left to chance. The golden yellow cake flecked with candy sprinkles lacks the box mix aftertaste we are all so accustomed to. It is also much lighter and airier - really an incredibly flavorful and rich vanilla cake with a delicate and moist crumb.
The part I had been waiting for was to be taught how to do the signature naked cake look which epitomizes Milk Bar’s cakes. Imagine my surprise when I found out how easy it is to do! All their cakes are baked in quarter sheet pans to ensure even baking and then are ‘cut’ to create their signature look. After we successfully removed our cake from the sheet pan (parchment and butter or baking spray is essential) we used our 6 inch cake ring to map out two perfectly round cuts and two smaller half cuts. Then we pressed firmly down to cut our cakes.
After cleaning off our cake ring we lined it with acetate and put the two half pieces in the bottom, filling in the middle with leftover cake crumbs and pressing them in with the back of our hand. On top of this we drizzled a couple tablespoons of vanilla extract mixed with milk to keep our cake extra moist. Then, using a cheap, bent spoon we dolloped the fluffiest, softest birthday frosting ever onto our cake, swirling it around with the back of the spoon as a regular offset spatula is too large for this task. Finally, we added the famous crunchy cookie crumbles atop our layer.
We repeated the entire process two more times, saving our best looking piece of cake for the top layer. (Side note...do not add the milk/extract mixture to the top layer). Additionally, we added another layer of acetate along the way, overlapping it and taping it to our other piece. We used the remainder of our cookie crumbles to decorate the top however we wanted, although Milk Bar provides graphics on how you can copy their styles. Our gorgeous cakes - seriously I can’t believe I made it - were whisked away to the deep freeze to set while we lounged on couches and read cookbooks, trying not to drool as we lapsed into a mini sugar coma from munching on cake scraps.
Our cakes were eventually reclaimed from the frozen depths and returned to our work stations. We carefully peeled away our acetate and voilà - we each had our own Milk Bar cake! The Milk Bar staff kindly wrapped and packaged up cakes for people that were traveling while we made a giant tray of their vanilla rainbow cake truffles to take with us. Fortunately we made a few extra bags and were able to take some additional treats home! These truffles are incredibly rich - cake scraps melded with milk as a binder then dipped in melted white chocolate and rolled in cookie crumbles. One giant truffle is enough to satisfy even the most sweet of sweet tooths!
The class could not have been better! The staff was patient and had fun helping everyone craft their own unique cake. I was thrilled they took the time to wrap our cakes up and they traveled beautifully via train and plane home, still looking perfect. I cannot wait for a return visit to make a chocolate cake or create my own in another Milk Bar class! My sister and I both agreed it was the highlight of the weekend. After this sugar rush, I recommend walking a few blocks (take Metropolitan Ave. to Bedford Ave., then 7th St.) and treating yo’ self to all that Brooklyn has to offer at the largest, most insanely delicious open air food market, Smorgasburg. On your way, stop in at Artists & Fleas for some unique antiques and handcrafted arts and crafts. Peruse the market, get yourself some lunch, find a spot on the grass with a view of the city and then prepare to enjoy the most exquisite dessert that you prepared as you lick the funfetti icing from your fingers.
And follow up - I ordered the supplies necessary to craft my own Milk Bar cake and look - I did it! (Disclaimer...my marble cake with chocolate frosting is on the left, my birthday cake from Milk Bar which successfully made it home via a half mile walk, an Uber, walking, another Uber, a 5 hour delayed train and a 20 minute car ride is on the right). It was actually incredibly easy and I will now be making all future cakes like this as they look way fancier than what I can craft in a couple regular cake pans. Make yourself look good by investing in a 6 inch cake ring, some acetate, a few cardboard cake rounds and a quarter sheet pan and proceed to impress everyone you know!