I will be honest. I never grew up on funfetti cake. My Buddhist health nut mother would not let anything artificially colored into our household, so we would not even have certain kinds of cereal. Because of that, funfetti was definitely not a thing in my childhood. I would see other children eating cakes with rainbow sprinkles all of them, but it was just not something that evoked fond memories of nostalgia for me. Maybe mild jealousy, because it represented a childhood I was deprived of, but that was the only emotional connection I have to rainbow sprinkles. So when I started working at Milkbar, and saw jimmies galore, it was definitely a different experience. However, I cannot deny the silly smile that gets put on my face when I am served something with rainbow sprinkles on it or in it. Not so much a guilty pleasure, but I do know that eating anything like that would be a quiet form of rebellion against the strict dieting rules that my mother would impose upon me. That being said, I do feel like it is a rather basic thing to eat rainbow sprinkles, especially as an adult. And when I think of basic, I think of people saying the word “betch” for some reason. Not sure why, but I just feel like that’s what basic people do, besides eating desserts with rainbow sprinkles. So that’s how I came up with the name of this cake!
For the sponge, I went with a brown butter and buttermilk sponge. The brown butter adds a pleasant nuttiness, while the buttermilk makes for a fluffier crumb. The sponge has rainbow sprinkles folded through it, though you can optionally omit those if you want to feel less like a basic betch. I leave that choice to you. I am soaking the cake with a black tea and vanilla soak, just to add a small layer of complexity to the cake itself – because like a cake, betches have layers. For the frosting, and that would probably be the coolest thing in this recipe, I combined Italian meringue buttercream with a cream cheese frosting. Meaning I made an Italian meringue buttercream, then whipped a block of cream cheese into it. Because we can’t have it be too fancy. The frosting itself is super fluffy and light, while not too sweet. I wanted the cake to essentially be a vanilla cake, but disguised with other things to take your mind off of it being a vanilla cake. Only for it to actually be a vanilla cake all along. Since a basic betch would not even notice. I will say the part of this recipe I disliked was the waiting times – since we are frosting the sides of the cake, that requires a lot more time with freezing the cake so that the buttercream will spread easier. I enrobed the entire cake in buttercream, which is very un-Milkbar-like of me, because I wanted to decorate the exterior with rainbow sprinkles. Why? Because it’s a Basic Betch Birthday Cake, betches.
For the brown butter and buttermilk cake:
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp cider vinegar
4oz brown butter
2oz canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles*
In a bowl, mix together the milk and cider vinegar. Let that sit for 10 minutes to create your buttermilk. Add to your buttermilk the brown butter, canola oil, and vanilla extract. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar together. To form your batter, fold the flour mixture with the buttermilk mixture first, until everything is fully combined. Then fold into that your rainbow sprinkles. Pour into a parchment-lined half sheet tray, and spread into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool down completely before cutting out 2 6-inch rounds, and creating a third round out of the scraps.
For the vanilla and black tea soak:
1 cup milk
2 bags of black tea leaves
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Steep the black tea and salt into the milk on low heat for 5 minutes. Allow the leaves to continue to sit in the milk, off heat, for another 20 minutes. Strain out the leaves, mix in the vanilla, and allow the milk to cool down completely before attempting to use.
For the Italian meringue cream cheese buttercream:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar, in two parts
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
8oz cream cheese
In a bowl, whip the egg whites with half of the sugar to stiff peaks. In a pot, heat up the remaining sugar, water, and salt until it forms a syrup and let that come up to a boil. Once the syrup begins to boil, carefully pour into the egg whites while whipping until the syrup is incorporated. Whip into the meringue your butter first. Once that mixture comes together(if it seems like it splits, don’t be discouraged, it will split and then with more whipping, come together into a luxurious buttercream), whip in the vanilla, then whip in your cream cheese until the mixture is completely smooth. Keep the buttercream chilled until time to use.
Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate. Place down the scrap layer of your cake rounds. Then pour onto that 1/3 of your soak. Spread on about 1/3 cup of the buttercream. Then repeat those steps with the rest of your remaining cake rounds, making sure that the top layer of buttercream is a smooth layer. Freeze for at least 2 hours before unmolding. Once unmolded, spread more buttercream around the sides of the cake to cover it, using an offset spatula or a bench scraper to create straighter edges. Pipe the rest of the buttercream on top of the cake as a border. Finish the cake with rainbow sprinkles.