My 2nd birthday cake comes to you almost a month after my actual birthday and barely in time for St. Patrick’s day (even though it’s St. Patty’s inspired). I wish I could say I was just too busy to make it in a timely manner, but really, it was put off due to sheer intimidation. This year, I really wanted one of my birthday cakes to be a Momofuku Milk Bar cake. At first, I toyed with the idea of ordering one online. I couldn’t decide on a flavor, so I was going to pretend that I had an upcoming wedding (even though I got married last year) and order the sampler pack. Slightly pathetic, I know, but my idea of a good birthday is eating an entire sampler pack of Momofuku cake in my pajamas while watching cheesy 90’s movies on Netflix. Hawt.
In the end though, I just couldn’t justify paying a shipping cost that was significantly more than the actual cake, so I figured it was time to put on my big girl pants and make one. I will say that once I assembled all of the ingredients and equipment, it was not as difficult as I made it out to be in my head. Time consuming, yes, but not so hard. I also think that making this cake would have been a lot less stressful had I not tried to do everything in a 24 hour period. I would actually recommend spacing it out over 5-7 days if you can, since a lot of it can be made in advance. I would also recommend reading through the entire recipe and familiarizing yourself with the process before you start making this cake.
After browsing the website, I decided on making the Salted Pretzel Cake because I love the idea of beer in a cake. I just recently discovered that I like beer, but only if it’s a darker beer that tastes like chocolate (such as this one). After checking out the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook from the library, I realized that other than the Pretzel Crunch, the rest of the Salted Pretzel Cake wasn’t in there. I was able to find the cake recipe online, but some of the instructions weren’t clear (or in weight measurements like the cookbook). For example, the recipe states that 3 cups of mini pretzels should be ground down into a powder, but should you measure the pretzels before or after you crush them? It’s a pretty big difference, since 3 cups of mini pretzels is only about 1 cup after it’s ground. There was no stout ganache recipe, but I found one online, and I replaced the burnt honey frosting with a charred marshmallow frosting (inspired by Momofuku’s Malted Chocolate Cake). In the end, I used my best judgement and was happy with the result. I’ve also included a few step by step photos at the bottom of this post as well. Please excuse the awkward lighting and non-prettiness since some were quickly snapped on my iPhone.
Here are the the components of the cake:
The Salted Pretzel Cake: This can be made up to 5 days in advance is kept wrapped in plastic in the fridge. I recommend making it at least a day in advance since it is easier to work with if you refrigerate it overnight.
The Stout Beer Soak: Just go buy your favorite stout beer. I used Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout.
The Malted Chocolate Pretzel Crunch: These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or refrigerated for up to one month.
The Stout Ganache: Can be made a week in advance and kept in the fridge. You’ll need to rewarm it in order to spread it over the cake.
The Charred Marshmallow Frosting: This needs to be made and used immediately.
There’s also the equipment. You’ll need:
A quarter sheet pan. I used the 9×13 pan I had and got away with it. It’s a little smaller than a quarter sheet pan and required me to piece a few more scraps together.
A 6-inch cake ring. I used a 6-inch cheesecake pan with a removable bottom that I already had and it worked just fine. A springform pan would work too, but I wouldn’t recommend a regular 6-inch cake pan or anything with a closed, non removable bottom.
Two 3×20-inch strips of acetate. I was able to get 2.5×20-inch strips at my local cake supply store and they worked well. You can also find larger sheets on amazon and cut them down to size.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) grapeseed oil
- 3/4 cups (85 grams) cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 cups (150 grams) unsalted pretzels, ground down into a powder (this ended up being about 1 cup of pretzel powder)
- Your favorite stout beer for soaking the cake.
- 2 cups (100 grams) unsalted mini pretzels
- 1/4 cup packed (60 grams) light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons malted milk powder
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons (100 grams) melted unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (170 grams)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) stout beer
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, 170 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
- 3/4 cup (85 grams) powdered sugar
- 10 ounces (283 grams) mini marshmallows, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line the quarter sheet pan with parchment paper (make sure you cover the sides as well).
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter, molasses, and sugars together on medium high for 2-3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium high for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, stream in the buttermilk and oil.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 4 to 6 more minutes, until the mixture is lighter in color and homogenous. Don’t rush this process.
- Scrape down the sides on the bowl and stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the ground down pretzels until just combined.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. Check the cake at 30 minutes. If the center is still jiggly and underdone, bake for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. I recommend wrapping it in plastic and refrigerating it overnight before assembling the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees fahrenheit.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Place the pretzels in a food processor and pulse until you get small bits (stop pulsing before it gets powdery). You can also break them up by hand.
- Stir the crushed pretzels, brown sugar, granulated sugar, malted milk powder, cocoa power, and salt in a bowl.
- Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
- Spread the mixture on the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
- Cool completely before using.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the cream and beer and heat until it just starts to boil.
- Pour the beer/cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Let cool until the ganache reaches a spreadable consistency. You can speed up the process by refrigerating it for about 15 minutes.
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.
- Take a handful of marshmallows and set them aside for later. You'll use these to top the cake.
- Place the remainder of the marshmallows on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the oven on broil. Toast them to your preferred level of doneness. I like them past the point of toasted until they are slightly burnt.
- Scrape the marshmallows immediately into the bowl with the butter and sugar and beat on medium to combine. At this point, it will look like a soupy gloomy mess but that's ok. Set it aside for about 15-20 minutes and it will thicken slightly to the point of being spreadable and will set up completely in the freezer.
- Once you take the cake out of the fridge, use the cake ring to stamp out 2 6-inch circles. These will be the top 2 layers of your cake. The remaining scraps will make the bottom layer.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment and place the cake ring in the center (if you used a cheesecake pan with a removable bottom, you don't don't need to place it onto a separate pan).
- Place the first strip of acetate inside the cake ring.
- Place the cake scraps inside the cake ring and use you hand to gently press the cake into the bottom layer.
- Dunk your pastry brush into the beer and give the bottom layer a good healthy soak.
- Spread 1/2 of the ganache onto the first layer of cake.
- Cover the ganache layer with about 1/3 of the pretzel crunch and press it gently into the ganache.
- Spread the 1/3 of the marshmallow frosting over the pretzel crunch.
- Before you start the second layer, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate. It should be sticking out enough to support the next 2 layers (see picture below).
- Then, place the second layer on top of the marshmallow frosting, top with the remainder of the ganache, another 1/3 of pretzel crunch, and another 1/3 of marshmallow frosting.
- Place the las layer of cake on top and spread the remainder of the marshmallow frosting on top.
- Top the cake with the remainder of pretzel crunch and put it in the freezer for at least 12 hours.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and slide it out of the cake ring (or cheesecake pan).
- Place the rest of the marshmallows on top and toast them with a blowtorch (or toast them under the broiler and put them on top).
- Let the cake defrost in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- Slice, serve with stout beer, and enjoy!
After you cut out two circles with the cake ring, line the inside of the cake ring with one strip of acetate. Use the leftover cake scraps to form the bottom layer. You can use you hand to gently press the cake scraps down and a pastry brush to soak the bottom layer with stout.
Spread 1/2 of the ganache on the bottom cake layer.
Cover the ganache with pretzel crunch. You can use up to 1/3 of it (I used a little less) and press it gently into the ganache).
Spread 1/3 of the charred marshmallow frosting over the pretzel crunch.
Before you start the second layer, tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate. It should be sticking out of the cake ring high enough to support the next two layers. Then, repeat the process with the 2nd layer: the remainder of the ganache, 1/3 of the pretzel crunch, and another 1/3 of marshmallow frosting.
Place the last layer on top and spread the remainder of the marshmallow frosting on top.
Gently press the remainder of the pretzel crunch on top and put the cake in the freezer overnight (at least 12 hours).
After the cake has set in the freezer, pop it out of the cake ring. Since I used a cheesecake pan, I pushed the base from the bottom up and it slid right out. Peel of the first strip of acetate.
Then the second…
And voila! Let it defrost in the fridge for at least 3 hours and serve with chocolate stout.
This cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Cake recipe adapted from the Momofuku website.
Pretzel Crunch recipe adapted from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.
Stout Ganache recipe adapted from The Beeroness
Charred Marshmallow Frosting adapted from Cookies and Cups