Blackberry almond cake – Milk Bar style

Kitchen Heals Soul - Momofuku Milk Bar style cake

When I started playing around with this recipe, first thing I tackled was the curd, and with this curd came a valuable life lesson (because when is anything straightforward and easy in my life?).

I followed the recipe for the passion fruit curd from the Milk Bar book, swapping in blackberry purée for the passion fruit. The results were, shall we say, gross not so tasty.

First thing I noticed was that it was way too salty. Tosi’s recipes are often salt-heavy, but usually that doesn’t bother me. Here it did.
Second, it was too buttery for a curd, and the blackberry flavor was largely overpowered by this, and the salt.
But, the worst part of all: the curd had a terribly metallic aftertaste that was concerning, to say the least.

Kitchen Heals Soul - Momofuku Milk Bar style cake

I scratched my head for a long time over this because the blackberry purée I used was top quality and tasted just like it should. All my ingredients were as fresh as possible, so I was left with the only possibility: something happened when I was making the curd. In the moment, I blamed my poor blender because it was the only thing that was out-of-the-ordinary in the curd-making process.


Kitchen Heals Soul - Momofuku Milk Bar style cake

It wasn’t until I was whisking a second batch of curd (no blender for me!)—this time, based on the lemon curd in Tosi’s book—that I figured out the culprit: the whisk!

For the first batch, I happened to grab one of my “dollar store” whisks without thinking (normally I use it with dry ingredients only). I ended up with an awful, inedible metallic curd (that may or may not be toxic, honestly).

For the second batch, I used my fancy OXO whisk. The curd tasted delicious, and there was no metallic aftertaste whatsoever.

Lesson learned.

Kitchen Heals Soul - Momofuku Milk Bar style cake

I amicably refer to items I buy at the dollar store as “dollar store crap”, and this just proves my point. The OXO whisk is worth every penny and more since it’s actually stainless steel and not leaching metal into my foods. And no, OXO did not pay me for this post, nor ever supply me with a free whisk.

Kitchen Heals Soul - Momofuku Milk Bar style cake

If you love almond paste, this cake is for you because it’s loaded with the good stuff. This recipe is based on Christina Tosi’s pistachio lemon cake in her Momofuku Milk Bar book. I used almond paste and almond oil instead of pistachio, and I used a combination of blackberry purée and lemon juice for the curd and cake soak. The crumbs I made as in the book.

P.S. If you love layer cakes, and you haven’t bought Tosi’s book yet, drop everything and go get it. This book is a fountain of information, with insight into why Tosi has constructed her cakes and recipes the way she has. There’s a method to her madness, and her book explains why.

Blackberry almond cake - Milk Bar style
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
For the blackberry curd
For the almond cake
  • 190 grams almond paste (I used Lebeca brand which has 60% almonds)
  • 75 grams glucose (Wilton)
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 280 grams icing sugar
  • 110 grams blanched almond flour
  • 75 grams almond oil
  • 55 grams whipping cream
  • 160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 6 grams baking powder
  • 6 grams table salt
For the almond frosting
  • 115 grams Stirling unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 40 grams icing sugar
  • 230 grams almond paste (see above)
  • 2 grams table salt
For the milk crumbs
For the cake soak
To make the blackberry curd
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the purée, lemon juice, and half the sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the rest of the sugar, and then transfer to the saucepan.
  3. Place the gelatin sheet in a bowl of cold water to soften.
  4. Heat the fruit/egg mixture on medium heat with constant whisking until the curd thickens and begins to boil. Boil for 1 minute with whisking, then take it off the heat.
  5. Squeeze the gelatin of excess water, then whisk the softened sheet into the saucepan, followed by the butter.
  6. Strain the curd into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap clung to the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool in the freezer for a maximum of 30 minutes, then in the fridge for several hours.
To make the almond cake
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a rimmed quarter sheet pan by spraying it with cooking spray and then lining it with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the almond paste and glucose on medium-low for about 2 minutes until it is smooth and homogeneous, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  3. On low speed, beat in the egg whites, one at a time, waiting til each is incorporated before adding the next, scraping the bowl as needed. At the end you should have a fluid, uniform batter.
  4. Add the icing sugar and almond flour and mix the batter on low speed to combine for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stream the oil and cream into the mixer bowl set to low. Increase the speed to medium to ensure it is well mixed.
  6. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix them in on low speed for about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. The batter should be smooth
  7. Spread the batter onto the prepared sheet pan and bake it for about 22 minutes or until the edges are golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before using.
To make the milk crumbs
  1. Heat the oven to 250°F.
  2. Combine the 40 grams milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with a spoon until clumps form.
  3. Dump the crumbs onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes then cool them completely.
  4. Transfer the cold crumbs to a bowl and toss them with the remaining 20 grams milk powder, followed by the melted chocolate.
  5. Stir the mixture every so often to ensure all the crumbs are evenly coated. Let cool completely before using.
To make the almond frosting
  1. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium.
  2. Add the almond paste and the salt and beat again starting at low, then increasing to medium-high, scraping down the bowl as needed. Use immediately.
To assemble the cake
  1. Prepare a 6-inch cake ring by placing it on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, lining the inside of the ring with a 20 inch long piece of acetate.
  2. Cut out two 6-inch circles of cake, and two half circles.
  3. Fit the two half circles of cake at the bottom of the acetate-lined ring, filling any gaps with the leftover cake scraps.
  4. Brush the cake with half the blackberry purée (~30 grams), then smooth on half the blackberry curd and sprinkle one third of the milk crumbs over the curd. Dollop with one third of the almond frosting, then gently spread into an even layer.
  5. Gently fit a second strip of acetate between the first and the ring to give your mold height. Then, place the next layer of cake over the frosting, and repeat the previous step by brushing with purée, smoothing with curd, sprinkling with milk crumbs, then dolloping/smoothing with frosting.
  6. Place the final layer over top, pressing slightly. Spread with the final bit of frosting and the milk crumbs.
  7. Freeze 12 hours to set, then pop the frozen cake out of the ring, placing it on a cake stand. Pull off the strips of acetate and let the cake defrost for about 6 hours in the fridge before serving.


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11 Responses to Blackberry almond cake – Milk Bar style

  1. BonnieBanters June 24, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    Simply Wow!!!

  2. Deb June 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    An amazing dessert! Adore the blackberries for a spectacular summer treat!

  3. Jett Whitfield June 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Very interesting! Looks amazing!!!

  4. La Boufferie July 4, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Oh my… ! It seems so good!

  5. Susan April 18, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    This looks so amazing!! I wish you would include some pics of the steps while you were making the cake. I will save this recipe and hope to make it soon

  6. Laura at Creative Supergirl April 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    This looks like a work of art. It looks so beautiful and so delicious! I am a huge fan of almond paste. I really need to make this. It looks challenging so I’ll have to get my nerve up.

  7. Eden Passante March 1, 2016 at 1:10 am #

    This looks so amazing! Blackberries and almond–amazing!

  8. Sean April 14, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    What a spectacular cake. Seriously… wow. Very interesting stuff about the whisk – it’s funny how stuff like that can jump out and bite you when you’re not expecting it.


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    […] and yet, over the years, I haven’t quite figured out how. The best way seems to be to go the Momofuku Milk Bar route, stabilizing the curd with gelatin and freezing the assembled cake to set it all firmly in place. […]

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