YOU GUYS, IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY WEEK! Freckle & Fair celebrated its second birthday on Oct. 2nd (golden birthday, comin' atcha!) and we're so glad that we're still creating insane things for you all and you're all still following along.
We've grown so much this year, and this blog has become everything we've always wanted in a collaboration between Theresa and me (except for that cookbook — we'll do that someday). We launched our Etsy shop, where Theresa has been selling beautiful and sassy greeting cards and art prints. She even got accepted to a few markets this year, selling that F&F swag at the Ridgewood Artisan Market and the Renegrade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. In addition to that, we've actually got a shop expansion that we've detailed in a second blog post today that we're so excited to announce!
We also reached so many of you on social media this year, with our Instagram and Facebook accounts growing into the thousands. Other media outlets helped out with that, with the many Buzzfeed round-up lists we were featured on (like our pop tarts in a life-giving breakfast list and our famous mac & cheese), as well as The Chive, Brit.Co and Good Housekeeping. We also did a few collaborations, like the giveaway we did with the lovely LZ Pencils with their Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-inspired writing utensils.
We weren't as consistent our twice-weekly blogging this year, and we're a little sorrynotsorry about that, as we wanted to focus more on creating unique content for our Etsy shop and also making sure what we did put up wasn't just thrown together. But we definitely felt like we've come into a voice and style, with continual insane and indulgent ingredients, plenty of things involving alcohol (you're welcome) and bright, colorful photos.
This year we just got into our groove. We stopped doing what we thought was trendy and just did what has always been us — gluttonous, ridiculous, silly, and ALWAYS WITH THE CAPS LOCK. We really wanted our voice to sound like the silly things Theresa and I text and gchat to each other into the midnight hours (for at least one of us, with the time change we're battling!). None of this is unique, of course, but we worried less about what everyone else was doing and just did what we liked, and you guys seemed to like that, and we liked it right back. We really like-like you all!
Most importantly, Freckle & Fair has allowed us to do some serious soul-searcing in our lives. Theresa and I both found each other while going to school for journalism, an industry we love and are passionate about, but this blog has allowed us to explore our other passions. For me, that's doing recipe development, doing travel photography and research and eating cheese, and for Theresa, that's doing illustration, printing beautiful things and being a small business owner. We're so thrilled that other people like what we're doing and that you all seem to be so proud of us. Your support means the world to us and for that, we'll keep doing this blog thing as long as it's still fun.
In the meantime, I whipped up this insane cake developed using the recipe for the equally insane Momofuku Milk Cake birthday cake. Theresa and I have always bonded over a love of peanut butter and chocolate, and blending that an over-the-top cake to celebrate our blog birthday seemed too perfect. We also reflected on our past year, but pulling out our favorite things that we worked on this year — of course, they were often the most ridiculous things we worked on. You can tell what makes us happy.
1. Colorful Marrakesh, Morocco 2. Circus Animal pop tarts 3. Campfire cocktail 4. Peach rosé popsicles 5. Black & white Christmas gift tags 6. Everything bagel pizza 7. DIY temporary tattoos 8. Pantone-inspired office makeover 9. Marbled conversation heart cookies 10. Dutch sprinkle bread 11. Roasted garlic and beet hummus 12. Trulli amazing Puglia, Italy 13. Lucky Charms rainbow donuts 14. Savory galette with roasted cauliflower 15. DIY confetti mural 16. Wineries to visit in Veneto
Now — onto that cake recipe! This one is a bit time-intensive, but it was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated (multi-layer cakes are kind of the bane of my existence). It's got three elements — the cake, the frosting and the crumbs — and they all go together just beautifully. I have eaten so much of this cake the last two days that I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but it was so good that it was totally worth the week's worth of calories that it definitely made up.
REESE'S PUFFS MILK BAR BIRTHDAY CAKE
for the cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 T chocolate sprinkles
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla*
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 4 T unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 T brown sugar
- 3 eggs
for the crumbs
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 T brown sugar
- 2 T chocolate sprinkles
- 1/3 cup crushed Reese's Puffs (+ more, for garnish)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 T vanilla*
for the frosting
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 T light corn syrup
- 1 T + 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 T cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
* Momofuku Milk Bar swears by clear imitation vanilla extract as their "secret ingredient." I did not have it on hand, but if you can get your hands on it, it apparently makes all the difference.
- Cake time! Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Place parchment paper down on a rimmed 13x9 baking sheet, coating with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sprinkles. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
- In a stand mixer, beat sugars, shortening and butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one by one, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat the mixture 4 more minutes until the mixture is light and airy.
- Turn the mixer to low. Add buttermilk mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat just until it's combined, about one minute.
- Pour cake mixture into your pan. Sprinkle top with the remaining sprinkles. Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick can be removed cleanly. Set aside to cool. If you're making it ahead, you can store the cake in plastic wrap in the fridge for 5 days.
- Time for the crumbs! Turn the oven down to 300F/150C. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, sprinkles, cereal, baking powder and salt. Add oil and vanila and mix until incorporated by hand. Don't overmix, as you'll want a combination of large chunks and small crumbs.
- Spread onto baking sheet and bake until the crumbs are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely. If making ahead, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- For the frosting: In a stand mixture, beat butter, shortening and cream cheese on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add corn syrup and 1 T of vanilla and beat until mixture is smooth and white, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon juice, peanut butter and cocoa until combined. Speed up the mixer and whip 4 minutes until super smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
- I encourage you to check out the original Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake recipe for assembly, as I did it a little differently because I did not have the supplies for the way they made it. So, I'll tell you my way (but I highly encourage you to check out their assembly video)! Place a piece of parchment paper down on your prep surface and invert the cake onto the paper. Peel off the parchment the cake was baked with. Using another piece of parchment paper cut to a 6" circle or a 6" round as a guide, cut out two circles into the cake with a knife. Use the remaining scraps to form the third layer (the video on the original recipe does a great job of illustrating this).
- Line a sheet pan with a new piece of parchment paper (I used a small cake round). Now, examine your cake layers. Your scrap layer should be the middle layer and your best-looking layer should be the top. Take your ugly cake circle and place it on the fresh parchment paper — this will be your bottom layer.
- Mix milk and remaining 1 tsp of vanilla in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, generously moisten the bottom layer of your cake, using half the mixture. Now, top this with about 3 T of frosting, and top that with 2/3 cup-1 cup of crumbs, pressing down to keep them in place and even on top. Add another 3 T of frosting on top of the crumbs.
- Take your cake scraps to form your second layer. It's okay if it looks janky — it will be hidden by frosting and crumbs. Repeat this layer with your milk bath, frosting, crumbs, then more frosting. Top with your prettiest cake circle.
- Analyze your tower of cake and make sure it is straight and even. If there are gaps in the sides, fill them with frosting. Add a layer of frosting to the very top of the cake. Take a piece of parchment paper and cut it so thought it is slightly taller than the cake and will wrap around its circumference. Wrap the cake in the parchment paper. Add a ring of crumbs and Reese's Puffs to the top of the take — or go crazy and cover the whole top.
- Place cake in freezer for at least 3 hours until the cake has set. Three hours before serving, place cake in fridge to defrost and remove parchment paper. Slice and serve!
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2016. All rights reserved. Recipe adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar's birthday cake recipe from Bon Appetit.