I’ve been on a monkey kick for parties lately – between a sock monkey theme baby shower and a monkey themed 1st birthday party – there are a lot of cute monkey ideas swinging around in my head.  Today I’m sharing a recipe for a monkey cake, which is amazingly impressive and doable even for non-bakers.  This cake doesn’t require any real shape trimming: The cake is baked in a metal bowl and a cupcake is used to create the ears.  Even if you don’t pipe the frosting perfectly, it will still come out looking great.

1st birthday cake monkey theme

This cake ideas is inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I used the recipe for the cake decorating instructions and frosting.  The reviews for the cake on Martha’s site  said the cake wasn’t very tasty so I used the “best ever banana cake” recipe for the actual cake and adapted it by using whole wheat pastry flour and less sugar.

Monkey (Banana) Cake Recipe

For the banana cake:

1 ½ cups very ripe banana mashed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 ½ cups buttermilk

For the frosting:

3 ½ sticks butter, softened

¾ tsp. vanilla extract

3 ¾ cups confections’ sugar, sifted

yellow food coloring

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

black shoestring licorice

chocolate covered espresso beans

1.  To make the banana cake: Preheat oven to 275°.  Grease and flour an oven-proof metal bowl.  Mix mashed banana with lemon juice and set aside.  Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.  Cream ¾ cup butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time; add 2 tsp. vanilla and beat until combined.  Mix in flour mixture, a cup at a time, alternating with buttermilk.  Stir in banana mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan (metal bowl) and bake in preheated oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until toothpick or cake tester inserted into center comes out clean (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your bowl).  Cool on wire rack.  When cool, invert onto a plate and trim flat side of cake to make it even (Note:  trim even if the cake looks even on top – this is important for frosting and piping around the bottom of the cake).

3.  To make the vanilla buttercream frosting:  Combine ½ stick butter, ¼ tsp. vanilla and ¾ cup confections’ sugar.  Mix with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Stir in 2 drops of food coloring to make pale yellow frosting.  Transfer to a pastry bag (or ziplock bag with small tip snipped from the bottom corner of the bag).

4.  To make the chocolate buttercream frosting:  Beat 3 sticks butter in mixing bowl on medium-high speed.  Add cocoa and beat on slow speed until fully combined.  Add remaining confections’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, to the cocoa mixture.  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and mix on high speed until fully incorporated (about 20 seconds).  Transfer ¼ of frosting to a pastry bag (or ziplock bag with small tip snipped from the bottom corner of the bag).

5.  To decorate the cake:  Place cake on cake stand with flat side down (dome facing up).  Place 3 strips of waxed or parchment paper on the cake stand under the cake, to keep the stand clean while frosting (remove strips when done frosting by pulling them out from the sides).  Slice cake horizontally in the middle and fill with chocolate frosting.  Place top back on cake and frost entire outside of cake with chocolate frosting, using an off set spatula.  Remove waxed paper strips and pipe small dots along the bottom edge of the cake.  To make the mouth, pipe an oval with the vanilla frosting, filling the center with additional vanilla frosting and spreading with an off set spatula.  Place two chocolate covered espresso beans above the vanilla oval; use two small pieces of black licorice to make the nose (placing them parallel) and one longer piece of licorice for the mouth.  Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

Smash Cake

I made a mini smash cake (using a smaller metal bowl and mini muffin tin), but it was much harder to frost and came out looking a little angry.   🙂