The Monkey Cake, Part One: The Cake & The Story

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We had a birthday in our house this month, and along with that, a special visitor from Adelaide, my friend Sonia.  The combination of the two was perfect, as Sonia was an old housemate of mine, someone who has a mutual love of food and also someone who has been spending a bit of time recently doing cake decorating courses.  Enter the birthday cake idea that had been percolating in my head for a few weeks….. and the story of our monkey.

My other half has been wanting a real monkey as a pet for a while now.   I think the book “Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse” by Paul Carter  might be responsible for the idea.   In my opinion they are cute, but I can’t say I need one in my house as a pet.  Some would say I’m a spoil sport I know!   But ever the one to take an idea and run with it I put my thinking cap on….so when a colleague was heading to Sabah, I asked on the down low if they could buy me a toy monkey as a joke.

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Ever since this cute little Monkey G (a baby orangutan) has been a part of our life and has honestly taken on a personality all of his own…   he’s travelled around the world, has himself a Facebook page, and now has a birthday cake in his likeness… spoilt much?

This is the recipes behind this cake, enjoy, maybe take a bit inspiration from what we’ve done and create your own special birthday cake.  I’ve created a second post to show you in pictures how we constructed him.

And onto the how too….

The biggest challenge with creating this cake was working out what shapes we needed for the cakes.  We ended up making 12 cupcakes, 4 mini cakes & 1 brownie tin.

This recipe did end up with twice as much cake as we needed as we didn’t want anything too big, but it freezes well and I knew that I could use the left overs for rumballs. We guessed quantities for the butter cream and again did okay, but leftovers will freeze if you end up with too much.  For me if this cake was being created for a child’s party the quantities might have been just about right as we would have decorated all the cupcakes with mini faces to have enough cake.

At the end we were really quite chuffed with the result and I wanted to share it with you all as much for the cake recipe as for how simple it is to be creative in making decorated cakes if you have the inclination.  The cake was moist, rich and with a little special addition of walnuts, a great flavour.  I would recommend it on its own regardless of it being a special occasion or not.   Pre-planning which forms we would use and how we would construct the cake were imperative in making this work.  I would also suggest don’t be scared of using a few toothpicks or skewers in your construction process to get it right. Another thing is more cake is better than not enough, just in case you make a boo boo along the way.

All in all though I think we did a pretty good job of re-creating “monkey” as a birthday cake.  What do you think?

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The Chocolate Cake

pre-heat your oven to 170c

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbl sp instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 200g softened unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbl vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Grease and line your baking tins with flour. Pre-heat the oven to approx 170c.

Cream your butter until light and fluffy.  Add the castor sugar and vanilla and beat for another 2-3 mins.

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Add one egg at a time beating until light and fluffy.

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Whilst this is happening, sift your flour, bicarbonate soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set to the side.

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In a third bowl combine the hot water, coffee and cocoa and whisk until dissolved and forms a paste.  Then add the cold water.

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Once your eggs are all added to your butter mixture, add the coffee/cocoa mix and flour in equal parts until well combined.

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You will have a thick style batter.  Fold through the walnuts and then spoon the mixture into your baking dishes and cook in the oven.

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We found the cupcakes took approx 20 mins and the larger cakes slightly longer.  Use a skewer to check when the cake is done.  It should come out clean.

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Allow to cool before decorating.

Stay tuned for the next post which is all about the buttercream icing… and then see how we put this baby together!

Happy Baking & Happy Birthday to my best friend and partner in crime; Mr G.  Big thanks to Miss Sonia for being the second pair of hands in this construction, it would not have happened without you.

xx Leah

The original recipe this is based upon can be found  The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham.

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