New This Month

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

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, May 2006


  • 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


  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 Add a comment

  • cakengiftsini
    26 MAY, 2017
    My w[filtered] family love this cake very much!!! So we make this cake in every weekend. We give thinks to you by heart for giving awesome recipe. Another cake that they like is given on the site :
  • 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