The Momofuku milk bar pistachio layer cake is filled with layers of dense and decadent pistachio cake, light lemon curd, rich pistachio frosting, and buttery milk crumbs. It is truly a masterpiece!
Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!

AKA my birthday month. Obviously.

Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

My birthday actually marks the start of what I like to call birthday season in our family because from my birthday (Feb 25th) onward there is literally a birthday to celebrate every two to three weeks.

On the bright side, it gives me a chance to bake (and eat) a LOT of cake.

On the down side, by the time the last of the birthdays rolls around (my brother’s birthday in May), I kind of never want to look at another birthday cake again.

Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

Hopefully now you understand why it has taken me a FULL YEAR to share this pistachio layer cake with you.

This cake was my birthday cake from last year and, like many of my Milk Bar birthday cakes past, the making of this cake was quite an undertaking. It was a multi-day process that involved making the pistachio cake layers, lemon curd, pistachio frosting, and milk crumbs, assembling the cake, letting it rest in the fridge overnight, and then finally unveiling and cutting into it. No one part of the process is hard in any way, but it all just takes time.

My best advice to you if you’re planning on making one of these cakes is to make a baking schedule and DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL IN ONE DAY. Been there, done that, would not recommend it. It’s so much less stressful to casually make all of the cake components over the course of a week and then assemble them the night before you want to eat the cake.

Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

The most important thing to note about this cake though is how freaking delicious it is!! With intense pistachio flavor in the cake and the frosting, it is definitely for the pistachio lovers out there.

The cake itself is rich and dense, but its sweetness is offset by the pleasant tartness of the lemon curd layer and the crunch from the milk crumbs.

It is absolutely my favorite Milk Bar cake yet (and I’ve made quite a few) and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to challenge yourself (and your time management skills) in the kitchen.

Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake
The Momofuku milk bar pistachio layer cake is filled with layers of dense and decadent pistachio cake, light lemon curd, rich pistachio frosting, and buttery milk crumbs. It is truly a masterpiece!
Yield: 1 6-inch layer cake
For the pistachio layer cake
  • 1 recipe of pistachio cake (below)
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) pistachio oil
  • 1 recipe for lemon curd (below)
  • 1 recipe for milk crumb (below)
  • 1 recipe for pistachio frosting (below)
For the pistachio cake
  • 190 g (2/3 cup) pistachio paste
  • 75 g (3 tbsp) glucose or corn syrup
  • 6 egg whites
  • 280 g (1¾ cups) confectioner's sugar
  • 110 g (1¼ cups) almond flour
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) pistachio oil
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 160 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
For the lemon curd
  • 3 lemons
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 gelatin sheet
  • 115 g (8 tbsp) butter, cold
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
For the milk crumb
  • 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
For the pistachio frosting
  • 115 g (8 tbsp) butter, room temperature
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) confectioner's sugar
  • 230 g (3/4 cup) pistachio paste
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
For the pistachio cake
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the pistachio paste and the glucose. Beat on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg whites one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after every 2-3 egg whites.
  3. Add in the confectioner's sugar and almond flour. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Slowly stream in the pistachio oil and the heavy cream with the mixer running on low speed. Mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes or until super smooth.
  6. Spray a quarter sheet pan with Pam baking spray and then line it with parchment paper. Spread the cake batter in an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until it is golden on the outside and starting to pull away from the sides of the pans.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
For the lemon curd
  1. Zest the sides of the lemons using a microplane. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and save ⅓ cup (80 g) of it.
  2. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in the eggs and blend on low speed until bright yellow. Transfer to a medium pot and clean the blender out.
  3. Bloom the gelatin by soaking the gelatin sheet in a small bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Gently squeeze out any excess water before using.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the lemon mixture over low heat, whisking constantly. Once it boils, return it to the blender along with the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt. Blend until thick and super smooth.
  5. Pour the lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve and into a heatproof container. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.
For the milk crumb
  1. Heat oven to 250F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
For the pistachio frosting
  1. Combine the butter and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the pistachio paste and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds and then increase to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Use immediately.
To assemble
  1. Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment that was on the bottom of the cake. Use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These will be the top two layers. The remaining cake scraps will come together to form the bottom layer of the cake.
  2. Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a half sheet pan lined with clean parchment paper. Line the inside of the cake ring with 1 strip of acetate (3 inches wide and 20 inches long).
  3. Place the cake scraps inside the ring and use the back of your hand to pack them in as much as possible into a flat, even layer. Brush with half of the pistachio oil.
  4. Spread half of the lemon curd over the top of the cake using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with a third of the milk crumbs, pressing them down with the back of your hand to set them in place.
  5. Top with a third of the pistachio frosting, spreading as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
  6. For the second layer, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the first strip, overlapping the two acetate strips by about ¼ inch.
  7. Set a round of the cake on top of the frosting. Brush with the remaining pistachio oil. Repeat the layering with the lemon curd, milk crumbs, and pistachio frosting.
  8. Place the remaining cake round over the frosting. Cover the cake with the remaining pistachio frosting. Sprinkle with the remaining milk crumbs.
  9. Place in the freezer or refrigerator and chill for 12 hours or up to 2 weeks in the freezer.
  10. At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve it, remove from the freezer and pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and allow to defrost for at least 3 hours.
  11. Slice and serve.
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar


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25 Responses to Momofuku Milk Bar Pistachio Layer Cake

  1. Kate says:

    These cakes are always so beautiful! Which is good because they definitely seem like a lot of work!

  2. SallyBR says:

    the type of cake that makes getting one year older a real pleasure! 😉


  3. Oh my Joanne this cake seems a lot of work but it sounds it’s worth it!

  4. Carl says:

    Awesome! Questions. Where does the second half of the pistachio oil go? Layer 2? And milk powder. Is that the same as normal powdered milk we were forced to drink as poor children?

    • joanne says:

      Yes, sorry that wasn’t clear from the instructions. It should be fixed now. The second half of the pistachio oil should be brushed on top of the second layer, then top the cake with the lemon curd/crumbs/frosting as you did for the first layer.

      The milk powder is the same as normal powdered milk.

  5. Susan Bliesner says:

    Does this cake have to be stored in the Freezer, or after the first freezer and after it has been served is it counter safe?

  6. Rim says:

    What can I use as a substitute for the pistachio oil?

  7. Mary Pat says:

    Can I use a jelly roll pan instead of quarter sheet?

    • joanne says:

      The cake will be a little bit thinner since that pan is a bit bigger than the quarter sheet pan, so I would watch the bake time closely. Other than that it should be fine! The other alternative is, if you have a half sheet pan, to put an aluminum foil “wall” in the center to form a makeshift quarter sheet pan.

  8. Jen says:

    Hello! Where did you buy the pistachio oil and pistachio paste?

  9. Tracy says:

    I bought the 6″ inch cake ring and a quarter sheet pan. I don’t see where I will be able to cut out two 6″ circles in the quarter sheet pan. Should I use two quarter sheet pans or a half sheet pan.? I’m excited to make this cake and I don’t want to mess it up.

    • joanne says:

      It’s a close fit but I promise two six inch cake rings will fit. You need to put them in diagonally opposite corners (like top left and bottom right) and put them as close to the edge as possible. If you try to bake the batter in a larger pan or two pans, the cakes will be too thin.

      Please reach out to me if you have any other questions!!

  10. Elizabeth jore says:

    Could you substitute pistachio pudding mix for the paste?

    • joanne says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I haven’t tried that so can’t vouch for it. I think they are pretty different in terms of consistency/flavor so I’m not sure that it would work.

  11. Miriam says:


    I must make this on this weekend!!!! My hubs cannot have gelatin, if I were to see another recipe for lemon curd, how much total lemon curd does your recipe make so I can use the equal amount? I am so excited for this recipe!


    I’ve just baked this in a quarter sheet pan at 350 and after 22 min the cake seems quite underdone, mushy and gooey on the bottom especially after inverting. What should the consistency of the cake be after cooling?

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