Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Make a Monkey Cake

Google images is a wonderful thing. After searching around I found a blog with instructions to make the perfect monkey cake for Bubba's birthday party. I actually needed to make two sheet cakes for the sides as well because we were expecting 20 or so friends and relatives, plus the 5 of us. We took my Aunt's advice on the amounts of cake per person, and got a couple of secret baker tips for doing decorative icing since she is the owner of Blackbird Baked Goods. Too bad she is in Connecticut and has multiple farmers markets in the summer and cannot make it to Bubba's birthday because we would have probably been able to convince her to help us make the cake.

First cut out circles of wax paper to line the pans with so that the cake comes out easier.

Put in the wax paper, then grease and flour the pans.

We used 5 boxes of cake mix to make a 12 inch round, three 8 inch rounds, and two 13x9 cakes.

Lots of cake cooling on the counter.

When the cake is cool flip it on to a wire rack and peal off the wax paper.

Flip it back over and "plane the cake" (or cut off the domed top) so it is flat. (We saved the cake scraps, that we didn't eat to make a trifle with later, yum!)

Brush off the excess crumbs.

Then cover a board in tin foil to fit the cake on.

Make sure you measure the board you want to put the cake on. It was the right size for how we wanted to position the cake but, we did not check to see if it would fit in the fridge until it was almost too late. So we woke up my brother Tim to help us cut the board.

Tim was not amused.

Measure the board and cut it to fit in the fridge, and re-wrap it in the tin foil.

Next we started on the icing. Lots and lots of icing! We used a recipe from The Joy of Cooking. It called for 1 stick of butter, 4 cups of powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of milk, and a splash of vanilla extract.

Chop up softened butter and mix with powdered sugar.

Add the milk to the butter and powdered sugar, and mix it slowly.

Or the sugar will explode all over the kitchen.

Like this.

This is a baker's tip from my aunt: To stop the cake from having a bunch of crumbs in the icing, put the cake in the fridge to get cold, them do a "pre-icing", just plain white, and put it back in  the fridge. Once it sets you can ice over it without dealing with all the crumbs.

We used the 12 inch round pan to cut the right arch for the monkey's eyes and ears.

Then "glued" it together with icing.

And did another layer of "pre-icing" to the rest of the cake.

We mixed cocoa powder in the vanilla icing to get the brown for the monkey. For this light brown it was only about 1 1/2 teaspoons to a whole batch of icing.

After letting it set, we added the whites of the eyes and teeth.

Set again, then the darker chocolate and the blue part of the eyes.

Then with a piping bag added the details with darker chocolate icing. Also made with cocoa powder, just a lot more of it.

Then with the extra arches of cake we cut out to shape the monkeys ears and eyes, we made bananas for the 13x9 sheet cakes.

And decorated it with a piping bag.

"It's a jungle leaf! Not a hand with a middle finger!"

I'll admit, the banana cake came out a little rough. I did use it as a practice cake for the piping bag so that the monkey would turn out better.

Bubba liked his monkey cake.

He thought it was delicious!

Both times. 
(His party was the day before his birthday, so we let him have another small piece after dinner on his actual birthday too)

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