The Milkbar Birthday Cake… but vegan

I’m not going to lie… despite what this recipe it is, making it is no piece of cake. In fact, it takes a lot of time, effort, and dirty dishes, but the result is a unique birthday treat packed with flavor. The cake is actually rather dry, but the milk soak rehydrates it for a unique, creamy texture. The sweet, crunchy cookie crumbles are reminiscent of the crumbles in ice cream layer cakes. My favorite part by far and away is the frosting, though. The vegan cream cheese in it cuts the sweetness, but there’s not enough that I would call it a cream cheese frosting. It uses THIS MUCH vanilla to reach PEAK birthday flavor. This dessert is decadent, super sweet, and full of sprinkles. It’s ultra kid friendly, but sophisticated enough that you’ll love it, too.

  • cake
  • cake crumbles
  • frosting


  • 4 tbsp room temp vegan butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 1.25 c sugar
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp flax + 1/4 c water mixed
  • 1/2 c almond milk + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar mixed
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c cake flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 c almond milk + 1 tsp vanilla mixed (or just use vanilla almond milk)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and line three 6 in cake tins with parchment paper. Beat butter, shortening, and sugars in a paddle-fitted stand mixer for 2-3 mins on medium high until creamy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape edges and add flax mixture. Beat for 2-3 more minutes until fluffy. Scrape edges again, then add almond milk mixture, oil, and vanilla. Beat for 4-6 minutes until the batter doubles in size it is so fluffy. There should be no streaks of fat when you’re done. Turn mixer on low and add flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. Mix until just combined, scraping down edges as necessary. Pour batter evenly into prepared baking tin and bake for 30-34 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, transferring to fridge if low on time. Remove the cakes from the pan, line each of the pans with a large rectangle of plastic wrap, then place cakes back in pans. Distribute almond milk mixture evenly between 3 pans right before assembly.


  • 1/2 c room temp vegan butter
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz vegan cream cheese (I used Kite Hill)
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1.25 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of baking powder
  • pinch of cream of tartar

Beat butter, shortening, and cream cheese in a paddle-fitted stand mixer for 2-3 mins on medium high until fluffy. Switch to low and add corn syrup and vanilla, beating for 2-3 minutes more. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid until just combined on low. Then, switch the mixer back to medium high and beat for 3 more minutes until fluffy, smooth, and almost glossy.


  • cake (above)
  • frosting (above)
  • cake crumbles
  • more sprinkles (optional)

If you have a 6 in springform pan or acetate strips, now is the time to use them to help maintain the structure of the cake. I managed to work without them, so it’s definitely possible. Take one of your milk-soaked cake layers and add a layer of frosting (in pan). Sprinkle a generous layer of cake crumbles. Take another one of your cake layers and use the plastic wrap to easily remove it from the pan. Place cake on top of frosting layer. Add another layer of frosting and another layer of cake crumbles. Repeat this again with the final cake layer. Top with a ring of cake crumbles and more sprinkles. Freeze over night, or for at least 3 hours. Let warm almost to room temperature before serving.

Tips/Things I Would Change:

  • If this cake intimidates you, use your favorite vanilla cake recipe, skip the milk soak, and follow the rest of the recipe.
  • The frosting is much easier to handle at room temperature, especially since you’ll be freezing the cake, anyway.
  • You can make any part of this recipe ahead of time, just store in the fridge in an airtight container. All parts will hold for up to 5 days. You can alternatively assemble the entire cake at once in advanced and leave in the freezer until a little before you’re ready to serve.

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