Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing and a look back at my very first cake.
Cupcakes to Cake
You guys know I am all about the cupcakes. Every week you guys watch me pull flavors together into bite-sized mouthfuls of joy and call them cupcakes. And being MsCupcakeasaurus, why wouldn’t I be?
Something you may not know is that I have been caking for almost eight years. By caking, I don’t just mean whipping a mix together and slathering icing over it.
The Art of Caking
Caking involves idea preparation by gathering source materials and analyzing size and shape to determine the best fit for the cake being prepared. It means drawing up plans and sketches and paying attention to all the little details. It means sculpting the cake like a statue emerging from marble. Caking is art after all.
Over the years, I have not always taken pictures or written step by step tutorials or documented every step of the journey along the way. I make cakes because I enjoy caking. I enjoy bringing the food to art and the art to food.
Flavor combinations are my chemistry experiments and dimensional cakes are my masterpieces. I love playing with new techniques, new materials or ingredients. One of the reasons I enjoy caking so much is that it feels like an art form that I can continuously learn from. That, and they taste good.
Today, I will be sharing with you my very first ever caking endeavor.
You may have noticed that I have been caking for as long as I have been a mom. The very first cake I really put my heart and soul into was for Little Cakeasaurus Rex’s first birthday. When he isn’t busy being a dinosaur, he is busy being a monkey. We lovingly nicknamed him Monkey since he was a baby.
As any over zealous mom would be, I created a theme of monkeys and immediately started developing ideas for his main cake and his smash cake. He had blow-up monkeys to toss around, monkey plates and napkins and of course a monkey cake. He had a cake for his guests and he had a personal smash cake.
The Smash Cake
Every little kid needs a smash cake for their first birthday. It is the tradition! I love smash cakes for the little ones. That first birthday is all about seeing their little eyes bulge out of their heads with sugar. There is nothing like taking that first fistful of delicious cake.
For the smash cake, I decided to go with a German chocolate cake and have the coconut frosting serve as the textured monkey fur. Admittedly, my skills at the time were limited and the monkey face looked more like a bear but Little Cakeasaurus Rex loved it. He had no problem figuring out what to do with his smash cake. Hands in the cake and then straight to the mouth.
Little Chunky Monkey
I love watching little ones feed themselves at this age because they still fist their food and are practically licking their palms. Too cute!
I’ll remember next time that monkey ears should be more on the side of the face rather than on the top. Also, don’t mind the little yellow hair tuft I tried to create. Monkeys can be blonde too, right?
The Guest Cake
The cake for the guests was a large vanilla sheet cake with a large mound of banana cake on top. I was so inexperienced and had no clue what I was doing. I went totally overboard on measuring out how much cake I would need for a one-year-old’s birthday party. In true First Time Mom fashion, I made enough to feed everyone at the party, the park and halfway down the street.
To give you an idea, I had no clue how to even carry this large of a cake to a park two blocks from the house. I purchased a huge white plastic cutting board and that became my caking station. I still use this cutting board as my preferred surface for rolling fondant or cutting out biscuits.
In all honesty, I baked two 9×12 inch cakes for the base. I slid them together and covered them with icing. If you are counting, that is a total of four standard cakes for one party. This was the first time I would bake that much cake for one party but it definitely wasn’t the last.
If you are wondering, it is no secret how I made the dome-shaped cake. I didn’t have a pan that shape that is for sure. I actually used a stainless steel mixing bowl and baked it right in the oven.
Obviously, be careful when using alternative baking pans but, the bowl worked out great and I still use it for other caking endeavors. I will remind you to take a good look at the shape of the bowl though. If you are wanting a hill shape like I was, you will want a shallower bowl to create a soft mound. However, I have also used a much deeper mixing bowl to create the Drunken Carolina Cake so that I had enough space for good sized cake layers.
The idea I was wanting to create was a mischievous monkey sitting atop a huge pile of bananas. The pile of bananas had to be made of banana cake of course. The banana cake wasn’t going to be enough though.
Nothing quite looks like a pile of bananas than a pile of bananas. After icing, I also completely covered the mound in Banana Rama candy pieces I purchased from a local candy shop.
Originally, all the bananas were going to be yellow bananas but this is a very mischievous monkey and he needed some colored bananas too. The monkey was a purple monkey bath toy so it was super safe for the kiddo to enjoy long after his party was over. A funky colored monkey totally deserves a pile of funky colored bananas.
To add a bit more decoration without going overboard any further, I added Piroulines around the outside edge of the sheet cake which provided great bamboo. A few green leaves and blades of grass with green icing and I had my masterpiece.
Can you tell I was proud of myself? I made a little card label with a silly monkey sticker for good measure. I am so proud that this was my first caking adventure. It brings back wonderful memories of my little one’s first birthday and it was the start of a wonderful adventure I still pursue today.
Still A Monkey
The kiddo still embraces his monkey side by collecting cute monkeys we find on our adventures. Currently, we have one from Cape Canaveral and Tampa Zoo. Just a few weeks ago, I offered my little monkey a special treat.
I treated LCR to Chunky Monkey Cupcakes!
These moist banana cupcakes remind me very much of that original banana cake but in smaller cupcake form. Top that off with a peanut butter cream cheese icing and you will be making all the monkeys smile.
Even walking down memory lane, I couldn’t leave you hanging without a scrumptious cupcake recipe to keep you satisfied.
You have now seen where the caking magic started. Tell me about your baking start. Do you remember your first real baking endeavor as an adult? I clarified that sentence because I was baking and cooking tons growing up. This one just sticks out in my mind as the first cake I researched and planned and put my heart and love into making.
Do you have that one dish or cake that sparked your love for it? I’d love to hear all about it or better yet, see it.