The Momofuku Milk Bar carrot layer cake is absolutely stunning – filled with layers of rich carrot cake, graham cracker frosting, liquid cheesecake, and buttery milk crumb, there is truly a culinary adventure packed into every bite.
If you’re in the market for a carrot cake recipe that will
(a) take up your entire weekend
(b) have you use literally every mixing bowl in your arsenal
and/or (c) BLOW YOUR TASTE BUDS OFF WITH ITS SHEER AWESOMENESS.
Yes, this is it.
I’m not saying I’ll never make another carrot cake again because, let’s be real, I really love carrot cake but don’t often have large blocks of time to devote to recipes with four subrecipes, buuuuuuuuuuutttttttt I will probably spend every future carrot cake bite wishing I were eating this carrot cake.
Just keeping it real.
This carrot layer cake is my first venture into the realm of Christina Tosi-style multi-layer naked cakes but I think it’s safe to say we can all rest assured that it won’t be my last. Truth be told, it was actually SO MUCH EASIER than I thought it would be! I started it pretty late in the day on Saturday, yet still managed to get all of the (MANY) components made/cooled/assembled and into the fridge by a reasonable hour on Saturday night so that it would be ready to be eaten on Sunday.
And, not to toot my own horn, but it looked pretty dang good. Those acetate strips, man. They’re better than airbrushing.
Milk Bar cakes generally follow the formula of layering a cake with some kind of soak (straight up milk in this case), a cream or curd, a crumb for crunch, and a frosting. Then repeat for two more layers and a top coat. As a result, a lot of heavy lifting goes into the making of the various components. Many of them can be made ahead of time, however, so you can totally NOT BE LIKE ME and drive yourself crazy trying to make them all in one night. The layering is actually the easy part because the cake is assembled in a cake pan/acetate mold so you really can’t mess it up or go wrong.
Each bite is truly a mouthful, but in the absolute best way given how well the various components pair together. I say make it at your own risk because, yes, it will be time consuming, but it will also probably be one of the best carrot cakes you’ve ever had. So – worth it.
- 8 tbsp butter, room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1¼ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2½ cups shredded peeled carrots
- nonstick cooking spray
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup milk powder, divided
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 3 oz white chocolate, melted
- ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tbsp milk powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ⅞ tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- ⅓ cup milk
- 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 recipe carrot cake
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 recipe liquid cheesecake
- 1 recipe milk crumb
- 1 recipe graham frosting
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, or 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs. Mix again on medium-high speed for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
- On low speed, pour in the oil. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 4-6 minutes, or until white and fluffy with no streaks of fat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix on low speed for 1 minute or just until the dry ingredients become fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again and fold in the shredded carrots with a spatula.
- Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is no longer jiggly in the middle and bounces back slightly when touched.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Heat oven to 300F.
- Put the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and milk. Add the egg to the slurry and whisk until combined. Slowly pour into the stand mixer bowl and mix on medium-low speed for 3-4 minutes, or until mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. The cheesecake should be firm on the edges, but jiggly and loose in the center. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Heat oven to 250F.
- Combine ½ cup of the milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir int he melted butter until the mixture starts to form small clusters.Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- Crumble the larger crumbs so that all of them are less than ½-inch in size. Place in a medium bowl and toss with the remaining milk powder. Pour the white chocolate over the mixture and toss to combine.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and ⅜ tsp salt.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the butter and heavy cream. Pour into the dry ingredients and toss to evenly distribute.
- In a blender, combine the graham batter, milk, and remaining ½ tsp salt. Turn the speed to medium-high and puree until completely smooth.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugars, and cinnamon on medium-high speed, until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the contents of the blender. Cream together on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium-high speed for the next 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on your workspace and invert the cake onto that paper. Peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Using a 6-inch cake ring, stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These will be the two top layers while the rest of the cake scraps will form the bottom layer.
- To make the first layer, clean the cake ring and place it on a piece of parchment paper. Use 1 20-inch long strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
- Put the cake scraps inside the ring and press them into a flat, even layer. Dunk a pastry brush in the milk and brush half of the milk onto the top of the cake. Top with half of the liquid cheesecake, followed by ⅓ of the milk crumbs and ⅓ of the graham frosting.
- Gently tuck a second 20-inch strip of acetate into the cake ring. Set one of the cake rounds on top of the frosting. Repeat the process for layer 1.
- Place the final cake round on top of the frosting. Cover with the remaining graham frosting and milk crumbs.
- Refrigerate or freeze for 12 hours or overnight.
- At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, remove from the refrigerator. Remove the cake ring and peel off the acetate. Transfer to a platter or cake stand and serve.