My son recently moved from the “monkey room” at his school into a full-fledged preschool class. To celebrate his last week as a monkey, we made a monkey cake together to share with his little monkey friends. Little hands can help mash the bananas, sift the flour, and add ingredients. It’s a fun project to create together, as it has a clear homemade look that doesn’t exactly require precision. Plus, it’s just cute!
This banana cake is actually rather easy to make. The cake does take longer than normal to bake, but the overall decorating is pretty quick. It’s baked in a metal bowl; I used the bowl of my stand mixer. No shaping the cake is required, only a post-baking cutting into layers. The ears are a cupcake with the top removed (and discarded) and the “stub” cut in half. The eyes are chocolate covered almonds and the nose and mouth are licorice. As far as decorating cakes goes, this one is pretty straightforward.
It’s a fantastic idea for a monkey birthday party or a little monkey baby shower.
adapted from Martha Stewart
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed (about 1 ⅓ cups)
¾ cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a metal bowl with non-stick spray (if you happen to have 2 bowls, otherwise you’ll need your mixing bowl while mixing the cake). Also, spray 1 cup of a muffin tin with non-stick spray (or line with a single cup).
Sift cake flour into a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients (soda, powder, salt) and stir. Mash bananas in a separate medium bowl. Add wet ingredients (buttermilk, vanilla). Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.
Beat butter in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment until fluffy, ~ 2 minutes. Add in brown sugar. Beat for ~ 1 minute further. Add eggs. Mix just until incorporated. Add ~ ⅓ of dry ingredients, mix until incorporated. Add ½ of wet ingredients, mix until incorporated. Continue alternating with dry and wet ingredients until all have been added.
Fill the muffin cup ¾ full. Pour the remaining batter into the metal bowl. Bake the muffin and the cake ~30 minutes. Remove the muffin and continue to allow the cake to bake until a toothpick or tester comes out clean, ~ 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 ½ hours. Allow to cool.
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
5 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
Yellow food coloring
¾ cup cocoa powder
Beat butter in mixing bowl with paddle attachment until very fluffy, ~ 3 minutes. Move ~ ¼ of butter into a separate bowl. To the larger amount of butter, add cocoa, 3 ¾ cups powdered sugar and 1 ½ tsp vanilla. Mix until fully incorporate. To the smaller amount of butter, add remaining 1 ½ cups powdered sugar and ½ tsp vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated. Add a small amount of food coloring to the smaller amount of frosting and mix until fully incorporated.
2 chocolate drop candies (chocolate covered almonds or milk duds)
black rope licorice
Invert cake onto a plate. Slice twice horizontally through the cake, creating 3 even layers. Frost the bottom layer with cocoa buttercream. Add the second layer and frost with cocoa buttercream. Top with third later. Cover entire surface with cocoa buttercream.
Remove cupcake from pan/wrapper. Cut off the top. Cut the stub in half. Each half-stub will be 1 ear of the monkey. Attach monkey ears with 2 toothpicks. Frost ears with cocoa buttercream.
Place yellow buttercream into a large ziplock/plastic bag, pressing into one bottom corner, or use a pastry bag with a large, round tip. Cut the corner of the bag. Twist the open end of the bag around the frosting, to create a makeshift, disposable pastry bag. Pipe on the yellow face and yellow portion of the monkey ears.
Add the chocolate covered almonds above the yellow portion of the face to create monkey eyes. Cut short pieces of black licorice for the nose, and use a long piece for the mouth.