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Monkey Cake

An animal theme can really get things swinging at a kid's birthday party. Indulge your child's penchant for monkey business with a fanciful banana cake with chocolate buttercream icing shaped and decorated to look like a curious friend.

  • Servings: 12
Monkey Cake

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, May 2006

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • Fluffy Chocolate and Yellow Buttercreams
  • 2 black-licorice drop candies
  • Black-licorice rope, for decorating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 1/2-inch-diameter 3-quart stainless-steel or ovenproof bowl and 1 cup of a large (1-cup capacity) muffin tin; set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and brown sugar; mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to medium; mix in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with banana mixture. Stir in pecans.

  4. Fill prepared muffin cup three-quarters full. Transfer remaining batter to prepared baking bowl. Transfer to oven, side by side. Bake cupcake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in tin on a wire rack. Continue baking large cake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes more (1 hour and 40 minutes total). Let cool in bowl on a wire rack 30 minutes. Invert bowl to remove cake; let cool completely.

  5. Trim flat side of cake to be level. Trim away top of cupcake to be level. Cut cupcake in half vertically for the two monkey ears. Cut bowl cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Spread 3/4 cup chocolate buttercream on top of flat layer. Top with domed layer. Transfer to a cake plate. Spread a thick layer of chocolate buttercream over entire monkey head. Spread buttercream over cupcake ears. Attach ears to sides of head, top of cupcake facing forward, securing with toothpicks.

  6. Place remaining chocolate frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #5). Pipe dots around bottom edge of cake in a continuous line. Switch to a small multi-opening tip (such as Ateco #233); pipe hair on top of head.

  7. Fill another piping bag fitted with a large plain round tip (such as Ateco #11) with yellow buttercream. Pipe an oval near the front base of cake. Fill in with frosting, and smooth. Place 2 small pieces of licorice rope inside for nose. Add a long piece of rope for mouth. Place licorice drops above oval for eyes. Pipe yellow half-circles in centers of ears; fill in with frosting, and smooth. Decorated cake can be refrigerated up to 3 hours.

Reviews (38)

  • sleeperific 19 Jan, 2013

    Easy to make and delicious. We made this for my son's first birthday. I'm by no means a baker or can do a good job with tedious decorating, but this was definitely do-able. Super cute, everyone loved it!

  • m44anthony 5 Mar, 2012

    I made this cake for my daughter's 1st birthday and I doubled the batch to make extra cupcakes. Everyone thought that I bought the cake and told me how wonderful it tasted. This is a wonderful recipe and super tasty!! The frosting was kind of dry and flaky but still tasty.

  • tiffbirchy 10 Feb, 2012

    I cannot access part 2 of this video, and I've tried everything (switching browsers, signing in and out of the website) -- and nothing works. Can you please put both videos, part one and part two, up on this recipe page? This is very frustrating.

  • bethanyt 25 Jan, 2012

    This cake turns out really cute, but like other reviewers, I think the banana cake recipe is sub-par. I also tried the banana pecan cupcake recipe from her cupcake book- it wasn't very good either, dense and not that tasty. I also made the matching cupcakes and they were great as well, just use a different recipe.

  • ddoft 20 Aug, 2011

    where is video part 2? The decorating is the part that looks the trickiest and I cannot find the video.

  • pavlova 18 Apr, 2010

    I made this cake and the matching cup cakes for my daughter's first birthday party. It was an absolute hit. No one had seen anything like it. I baked it a week in advance,froze it then iced it the day before. It's a delicious cake! I hadn't made a character cake before and having the video gave me a lot of confidence. Get thinking Martha for my daughter's second birthday!...oh..and cup cakes to match please. Everyone loved those as party favours.

  • Mspike 26 Feb, 2010

    This cake is delicious! I made it in a bundt pan and added about 1/2 a pkg of skor bits instead of the nuts. I also used 4 bananas as they were not too big. So moist and tasty! No icing, just a sprinkling of icing sugar. 10/10

  • swoon23 10 Jan, 2010

    I made this cute cake tonight for a trial bday cake run, and I love it but my biggest Pyrex doesn't seem big enough - it shrunk and turned into a small cake. What size Pyrex works best? Or, other ideas for which bowl to use? I like the Martha collection stainless bowl idea but are they oven proof?

  • spudmommy 31 Aug, 2009

    Tsk Tsk Martha! Make the banana cupcake recipe from the "Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen tack

  • littlebird70 21 Jun, 2009

    The cake recipe itself is not the best nor is the frosting. I have made this cake several times and ended up using chocolate buttercream and a better banana cake recipe. But the construction is the same and it looks sooooo cute.

  • jcrews2104 2 Apr, 2009

    I have Martha's stainless steel bowls that are sold in a set of three at Macy's. t]The middle one is a three quart and worked perfectly!!

  • realfoodmom 2 Apr, 2009

    What about a pyrex bowl?? That's what I thought I would make it in. That will work, right?

  • realfoodmom 2 Apr, 2009

    What about a pyrex bowl?? That's what I thought I would make it in. That will work, right?

  • realfoodmom 2 Apr, 2009

    What about a pyrex bowl?? That's what I thought I would make it in. That will work, right?

  • realfoodmom 2 Apr, 2009

    What about a pyrex bowl?? That's what I thought I would make it in. That will work, right?

  • realfoodmom 2 Apr, 2009

    Anybody know how to substitute blue agave for both the cake and the frosting? I want to make this for my sons first birthday, but do not want to use sugar. HELP!!

  • SpankieJMonkey 31 Mar, 2009

    Betty Crocker has a cake baking pan set in the shape of a dome just like this monkey head. It is in a red colored box I got mine at Macy's, and you can add ice cream to it or a filling of your choice if you use the insert. You can also make 2 half circle cakes and then put the 2 together to make a ball shaped cake, like a snowflake or ormanent for Xmas! d(. .)b

  • SpankieJMonkey 31 Mar, 2009

    Betty Crocker has a cake baking pan set in the shape of a dome just like this monkey head. It is in a red colored box I got mine at Macy's, and you can add ice cream to it or a filling of your choice if you use the insert. You can also make 2 half circle cakes and then put the 2 together to make a ball shaped cake, like a snowflake or ormanent for Xmas! d(. .)b

  • dyanamo 22 Mar, 2009

    I cannot find a stainless steel bowl matching your specifications. Please help.

  • pamsmiles 16 Mar, 2009

    I really want to make this cake for my neice's bday (huge curious george fan)... but what kind of bowl can i use to bake it in? I have looked on the net but to no avail... please HELP!!

  • bh2 25 Feb, 2009

    LOVE this recipe! I would also like to double the batch and then make a 2nd cake in a 9x13 pan for additional guests. Can someone tell me how long you would bake this cake for?

  • bh2 25 Feb, 2009

    LOVE this recipe! I would also like to double the batch and then make a 2nd cake in a 9x13 pan for additional guests. Can someone tell me how long you would bake this cake for?

  • bh2 25 Feb, 2009

    LOVE this recipe! I would also like to double the batch and then make a 2nd cake in a 9x13 pan for additional guests. Can someone tell me how long you would bake this cake for?

  • ManicCat 4 Nov, 2008

    This cake looked so cute when I made it! But I wished that the "cake" was a different recipe. What came out was more of a banana-nut muffin or bread. The birthday boy would have loved something more fluffy and sweet.

  • ManicCat 4 Nov, 2008

    This cake looked so cute when I made it! But I wished that the "cake" was a different recipe. What came out was more of a banana-nut muffin or bread. The birthday boy would have loved something more fluffy and sweet.

  • Speckydoo 9 Sep, 2008

    I made this cake for my sons 1st birthday, first cake i have EVER made, everyone thought i had lied and made it! It was SO yummy and really easy to make, i started soething now and will be looking on here for another idea next year!!

  • danders24 27 Jul, 2008

    i made this cake for my son's first birthday. it turned out perfectly! the guests loved that it was banana cake - healthy, but sweet enough for a celebration! the cake is very dense, almost like banana bread with a smooth, silky, rich chocolate buttercream frosting. the leftover frosting was fabulous on graham crackers, too!

  • nadjya 23 Jul, 2008

    I made the cake, with some slight alterations. The cake itself was Martha's one bowl chocolate cake and it was perfect. I also ended up putting the face on the top of the cake, changing the ears also, for an overhead view. It was a perfect first birthday cake for my daughter and the guests were gushing about it. Definitely recommended.

  • Ameise 12 Jun, 2008

    It's perfect and not too sweet. I used it for one Birthday Cake and everybody is bugging me for the recipe.

  • mamaangel59 28 May, 2008

    I made the gorilla cake for my granddaughter and added a banana and orange candy necklace and yellow bows above the ears. She loved it aak wanted the same cake for her next bithday. To this gorilla cake I added a pink heart candy necklace and pink bows above the ears.. She thinks grandma is great. Thank you Martha! We think you are great!

  • smowen2004 23 Apr, 2008

    it's in the Kids Good Things little magazine that comes out 3 or 4 times a year...

  • sammeann 10 Apr, 2008

    Which magazine and what issue contains the recipe?

  • dstilmann 8 Apr, 2008

    The recipe is in the magazine but I can not find it on the web site.

  • jenny4 8 Apr, 2008

    where is the recipe?

  • Ashlindn 11 Feb, 2008

    I made this cake for my boyfriends 30th birthday along with a whole monkey themed birthday party. My way of saying you aren't to old to have fun yet. I make cake crumbles out of the bits I had to cut off to level the cake and put them on the back to make monkey fur. I make it with devil's food because he likes that more than banana cake. It was really fun and and he definitely enjoyed it. Thanks Martha!

  • leetlebug 4 Feb, 2008

    What a wonderful idea. My little girl will be turning 4 in a couple of weeks and we were going nuts trying to come up with a theme for her (she is VERY picky, but she loves the zoo). My husband, her big sister and I talked it over and we are going to take her to the zoo, then come home to a zoo themed party. She is going to be SO surprised I can hardly wait to see her face.

  • tivogirl 25 Nov, 2007

    I made this for my daughter's ninth birthday. I used Betty Crocker's yellow cake mix, canned chocolate and vanilla frosting tinted yellow.

  • mrsfiorillo 9 Nov, 2007

    I made this for my son's first birthday after watching Martha make it on the show. It was easy to do, and it turned out beautiful.

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