I’m pretty sure the first time I saw this monkey cake, it was in a picture sent to me by Kate’s sister-in-law. I remember thinking it was the cutest thing ever, which is why months later when I was searching the internet for ideas for my oldest son’s first birthday this link from Martha Stewart caught my eye.
I wanted to show you all this fun idea because it’s the method that makes it 1. easy and 2. versatile (more on that later!) So many character cakes require massive amounts of equipment, ingredients, and cake decorating talent, but this is something that really anyone can do! My second son just celebrated his 2nd birthday and I thought it would be fun to bring back the monkey. It’s become a tradition in our house, and in the houses of many of my friends!
The trick is using a plain old mixing bowl to bake your cake in. You’ll want something that’s Pyrex or stainless steal. I have this set of stainless steel bowls that works great because I can pick from all different sizes.
The first time I made this cake I made a large sized one, and then I used that teeny tiny bowl to make a little individual cake for my son- it was a huge hit!
Banana cake is a natural choice for a monkey theme, but any cake flavor will work just fine. I’ve made Martha’s Banana Cake recipe and it’s really yummy.
Basically you’re just going to fill your round bowl with cake batter and bake it just like that. When the cake is cooled you can invert it and you’ll have a nice round shape. You can leave the cake solid, or fill with banana pudding, chocolate frosting, or anything else your little heart desires.
This is where the versatility comes in. You could turn this into a baseball, a watermelon, a ladybug, a frog, one of those hideous barbie cakes with the giant dresses, etc. If you’re going for the monkey like I am, then you’ll want the whole thing covered in chocolate. I’m slathering on this chocolate frosting.
To get the frosting nice and smooth, try running an off-set spatula under really hot water for a minute to warm it up. Dry it off and then quickly spread. It helps smooth out lines and bubbles.
Then you’ll need a little yellow frosting. You don’t need much at all so I just eyeball it by mixing a little butter, powdered sugar, milk, and food coloring until it’s a good consistency.
I’ll have you know that being the perfectionist that I am I really wanted to scrape the mouth off my monkey and start over because it’s totally lopsided! But my husband convinced me to just leave it and show everyone that it’s okay if it’s not perfect, it just gives it character. I think he just wanted to eat the darn thing.
For the hair I used this piping tip, but any star shaped tip will do just fine. Martha used a halved cupcake for her ears but I find it much easier to just slap on a couple of Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies. Just cut a little slit in the side and they pop right in. My eyes are Jr. Mints, and I just piped on the nose and mouth. If you can find thin black licorice, you could use that as well.
When I made this cake for the first time I didn’t know if it would be big enough, so I came up with this cupcake idea to match. I think the cupcakes were a bigger hit, especially with the kids!
Again, a quick and easy idea that you don’t need much skill or equipment for. I just pipe on the mouth part and give them a little squiggle of hair on top. Miniature oreos make the perfect ears, I separate the cookies and use one side for each ear. And lastly, the mini M&M’s are the perfect size for eyes. Done! They really don’t take long to make.
And what did my birthday boy think? You be the judge.
such cute cakes! Love it!
Lovely! I agree with your husband it doesn't have to be perfect. This was one of the first recipes I every blogged about. I LOVE your idea with the monkey cupcakes. I want a do over LOL
Super duper cute! I love those cupcakes!
I love this! Awesome monkey cake and cupcakes! Banana cake would be awesome and so fitting for these, too.
We used the same idea to make a ladybug cake. We used a small pyrex bowl for the head and the big measuring bowl for the body and mini oreos for the spots. It turned out so cute although it was challenging making true black frosting. : )
you must have known that i needed a cute cake idea for tuesday! thanks so much, can't wait to try it out.
Those are just TOO cute Sara! Your son looks like he is definitely enjoying them, what a cutie : )
It is simply superb n wonderfully easy too !!! Thanks for sharing the lovely idea !!
I SO made that monkey cake a few years back for a friends' baby shower….but forgot to take pics (duh). Anyhoo, yours turned out SO cute, and good for you for not changing the face. I would have and it probably would have ended up ruining the WHOLE cake somehow!! (I'm REALLY clumsy 🙂 Although, I do remember having to try it a few times to get the baking timed right. Hmmm
This is just adorable! I love how it looks like those retro sock monkey dolls! 🙂 Soooo CUTE! I might archive this post for my son's 3 year-old birthday in July! Thanks!
Your son is gorgeous! You were still pregnant when we left for England!
Making cupcakes for my second grade end of year at school … monkeys would be perfect!! So how do you get the yellow frosting oval on there without it smearing the chocolate frosting below? I've never done fancy cupcakes before so maybe this is a stupid question but I can't figure out how you get them so neat, even with the squiggly 🙂 THANKS!!
Jennifer- I had a feeling that comment was bound to offend at least one person! lol. Okay okay, so maybe "hideous" isn't the right word. Maybe it's just because I have all boys at my house so I'm not used to the froo-froo!
Really cute and creative! Do you really think the barbie cakes are hideous? 🙂 I made a Cinderella one for my daughters 3rd b-day last year and didn't think it turned out THAT bad 🙂 🙂
I love monkeys! Is there anything wrong with a 40 year old making this cake for herself? Hope not…because I'm gonna!
Emily, honestly with any cake you bake this way you just kind of have to eyeball it. I just keep an eye on it and start testing it with a skewer when it starts looking done. Because it will totally depend on the size of bowl you're using.
Sorry, I forgot to add my question: how do you adjust cooking times for cooking in the big vs. small bowls?
Those are awesome! My SIL is expecting her first child and she's having a monkey theme — this is perfect 🙂
THAT is adorable. I'm totally doing that for my son's birthday next week–he's turning 6 and just started T-ball. A baseball would be awesome, right??
Brilliant, Sara 🙂 All four of the kids in the family have their birthdays between now and the end of the year…hmm…I'll bet Siu Jeun would like a monkey cake 🙂
I love this cake! I made it for Becka when she turned one and it was a huge hit! I made her monkey pink though, it was adorable. We've always called her our little monkey and this was the perfect theme!
Trista, what kinds of problems have you run into? I just find it's easiest to grease and flour the bowl and use a skewer to make sure the cake is cooked all the way to the center. Oh, and let it cool enough before trying to invert it or you'll lose the top!
Okay. You had me at the adorable monkey cake. But then you brought in the cupcakes!!! I'm dying from cuteness over here! Thanks for sharing!!
Man that kid is cute!
Your little boy is so cute! And how do you bake the cake in the bowl? I've never really been successful with that.
cute! I posted a link (ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com). Thanks for sharing!
My son is 4 months old, and I think these cupcakes will be made for his 1st birthday! What better theme than Monkeys! So excited.
so cute! I never thought to bake right in a mixing bowl – you got me thinking now!
Kim @ http://frostmeblog.blogspot.com
Oh my goodness these are cute! My youngest wants a kitty themed b-day and I'll be trying this cake as a kitty! Thanks for posting this!!!!!