Last week I had quite a week. On Wednesday, I ran four miles.
After not running long distance since last Spring, I was shocked and very proud that I whipped that out.
Also I made this cake. I’m pretty sure I was more proud of this cake than that run. Or maybe I ran so I could feel better about making this cake.
I haven’t made a serious cake in…well I can’t tell you when! It’s been SO long. Confession? Yeah, I think I’m scared of making cakes. Cakes with frosting. Cakes with layers.
Not because they’re hard. But because I want each part to be perfect. I would hate to ruin a good cake with a terrible frosting or a great frosting with a terrible cake. I’d cringe and cry if that happened. Ugh.
This cake was 100% worth the time and effort. I opened my Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook knowing I wanted to embark on a project of epic proportions. After two days (because I work really slowly, not because it had to take that long), the best cake I’ve ever made was sitting on my counter. And I was doing some very strange jump-wiggle hybrid dance in pure victory.
You have to make this cake. My mom said it is her favorite now. I stayed up two nights in a row telling and reminding my husband about how amazing this cake was (yeah, he fell asleep, but I had to remind him how wonderful the cake was!).
A few tips before you dive into making the best cake of your life? Read the instructions thoroughly before you start. Just read them and be prepared. Take your time. Make the cashew paste from scratch. It takes a couple minutes. And you’re making everything else, so just do it. Here are a few pictures to help you see what we’re doing here:
Here’s what the Cashew Paste looks like when it is ready:
Bake your cake in a quarter sheet pan, then stamp out the round cake layers with a 6″ springform cake ring! This ensures even layers (versus baking three separate layers).
While your cake is cooking and cooling, make your Cashew Buttercream and place it in a tightly sealed container in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
Also while your cake is cooking/cooling, put together your Cashew Crunch. I whipped mine up in a small bowl with a spoon, no extra equipment needed.
- 2/3 cup cashew paste*
- 2 Tbs. corn syrup (clear)
- 6 egg whites
- 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups cashew flour
- 1 ¼ cups almond flour
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (use a fruity-smelling variety)
- ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ cup toasted cashews
- ¼ cup cashew paste*
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbs. powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 8 Tbs. unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup cashew paste*
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup Lemon Curd (homemade or store-bought)
- Heat your oven to 350. Spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick spray, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray with nonstick spray again.
- In the bowl of your mixer, combine the cashew paste and corn syrup. Beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed, until sticky and well combined.
- Turn the speed down to low and add the egg whites, one at a time, until each egg white is completely incorporated (scrape down your bowl after 2-3 egg whites).
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cashew flour, almond flour and powdered sugar. Whisk together until completely combined.
- On low speed, add half of the nut flour/powdered sugar mixture slowly (I used a large spoon and added one spoonful at a time), drawing out the time you’re adding them in while the mixer is mixing to 2-3 minutes. Stop your mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- Add the baking powder and salt to the remaining flour/powdered sugar and stir together.
- With the mixer on low, stream in the olive oil and then the almond milk. After those are combined into the batter, add the rest of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix for 2-3 more minutes. The batter will be very smooth.
- Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and gently tap the pan on the counter, releasing air bubbles. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until slightly golden on top, and the edges are golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. When you gently touch the edge of the cake, it will spring back.
- Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. After the cake is cooled, turn it out of the pan, onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the cake and place it in the fridge for several hours or overnight before continuing. (Sure, you can start cutting and stacking your cake without doing this step, but trust me, when you let your cake set in the fridge overnight it makes the finished cake more moist, flavorful, and silkier. You want that!)
- While the cake is baking or while it is setting in the fridge, make the Cashew Buttercream and the Cashew Crunch. Store each in the fridge (in a well sealed container) when they’re done so they’ll be ready for you to stack your cake.
- In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and the powdered sugar. Cream them together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the cashew paste and salt and continue to beat for 2 more minutes. Scrape down the sides and let mix for 30 more seconds.
- Use your buttercream to frost your cake immediately or store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- If you keep your buttercream in the fridge before you use it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes, then beat it in your mixer for 30 seconds until fluffy again before you frost your cake.
- Coarsely chop up your toasted cashews until you have some fine pieces and some coarse pieces.
- In a small bowl, combine the cashews, cashew paste, salt, powdered sugar and cinnamon. Use the back of a spoon to mash and mush the ingredients until they’re completely combined and it resembles gravel. Store in a sealed container until you’re ready to use it.
- To assemble the cake!
- Use a 6” cake ring (I used the ring from a spring-form pan) to stamp out two cake layers from the sheet cake. Lay a piece of parchment on a cutting board or sheet pan. Lay your 6” cake ring on the parchment and use the scraps of cake to press in the ring, creating a seamless bottom 3rd layer of cake. (you’ll be stacking your cake in the cake ring)
- In a small ramekin combine the unsweetened almond milk and the cinnamon to make your Cake Soak. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush a generous amount of the Cake Soak onto the top of the bottom cake layer.
- Next, spread 1/3 cup of the Lemon curd in a thin, even layer on the bottom layer of cake, using the back of an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon.
- On top of the lemon curd, sprinkle 1/3 of the Cashew Crunch in an even layer.
- On top of the Cashew Crunch, carefully spread 1/3 of the Cashew Buttercream.
- Layer on a second layer of cake and apply more Cake Soak. Repeat your layers of lemon curd, Cashew Crunch and Cashew Buttercream. Then add the final cake layer, cake soak, an even layer of Buttercream and a final sprinkling of Cashew Crunch.
- Carefully wrap the top of the cake and transfer the sheet pan or cutting board with the cake to the freezer. Freeze the cake for 12 hours to set the filling and layers. You can keep the cake in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- At least 3 hours before you’re ready to serve the cake, transfer the cake to the fridge. When you’re ready to serve the cake, pop the cake ring open and carefully remove it from the cake. Slice and serve! Enjoy!
- *Although you could use store-bough cashew butter instead of making cashew paste, I highly recommend (for the flavor and texture) that you make your own. Simply place 3 cups of raw cashews into your high-powered blender or food processor. Grind until a thick paste has formed. This will be right after a dough-like ball has formed in the blending processor, but before the paste completely liquifies into thinner cashew butter. It will be smooth and almost putty-like. The 3 cups of raw cashews should produce just enough cashew paste for the entire recipe. You can make the cashew paste up to 2 days in advance, keeping it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap on the counter until you're ready to continue making your cake.
- Leftover cake should be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the fridge.
Here’s my other recent foray into the Milk Bar… because I love it.