Monday, 31 December 2012

a birthday and an anniversary

It is the time of the year again...

as the new year approaches, in just a few hours...

I gladly bid farewell to year 2012...

a year filled with wonderful memories and precious moments for me to treasure in years to come...

to mark the end of yet another year of baking and blogging, I will like to share with you this banana chocolate sponge cake.

I first saw this monkey cake a year ago when I was looking for a suitable birthday cake recipe for my son. However, back then, we were away from home, and even though the service apartment came fully equipped with an oven and basic baking tools, I wasn't gung ho enough to give this a try. I am glad that I went ahead to make it ten days ago, and it turn out to be the cake of the year (for me)!

Instead of the usual sponge cake, I baked a banana sponge cake for the layers. Recently, I have a reader who encountered some problem with this banana sponge cake recipe. I really admire her never give up attitude. Although I wish I could show her how I made this cake, but, I am no professional baker and I am certainly not qualified to give any advice especially since I have not even attended any baking class. The least I could do was to bake this banana sponge cake again so that I could at least revisit the steps to ensure I didn't mislead anyone with my instructions. The cake turned out well, with a nice golden browned crust, and soft and moist texture. I am quite certain that this reader has prepared the batter correctly, the only thing I could pinpoint would be the oven temperature, could the oven be too hot?? I understand how disappointing it is whenever I have to face a failed attempt. I sincerely hope she could get it right the next time, all the best!

My child was grinning from ear to ear when I presented the cake to him. Even though he was not born in the year of the monkey, he behaves pretty much like one ;)

The banana cake was so delicious with the chocolate ganache, the only downside was, the coco pops turned soft by the time I served it, and, it was really, too cute to eat, luckily it was quite an easy cake to put together.

Happy birthday to both my little munchkin and this humble blog of mine! It seems almost like yesterday when I went home with my baby boy on a Christmas day....and, it doesn't seems too long ago when I was pondering for a name for my blog. In reality it has already been six years since I published my very first post! I really hope I could still keep it going for another year or two...

or maybe three, or four years to come....

Here's wishing all of you a joyful new year!

And may your kitchen be filled with sweet memories and wonderful aroma of freshly home baked goodies, 
all year round!  

Banana Chocolate Monkey Cake

(make one 7" round cake)

for sponge layer:
3 large eggs, room temperature
100g caster sugar (original recipe uses 150g)
3 large ripened bananas, cut into chunks
150g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
80ml vegetable oil
20ml milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for chocolate ganache:
170g pouring cream (I used one can Nestle pouring cream)
170g semi sweet chocolate chips (or use any dark baking chocolate, coarsely chopped)

for peanut buttercream:
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
30g icing sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons milk (I used low fat fresh milk)
about 1 tablespoon peanut butter jam (use more if necessary)

for decoration:
chocolate flavoured rice cereals (I used one mini pack 30g kellogs coco pops)
2 regular size chocolate chips
1 large cookie


to make sponge cake:
  1. Grease (with butter) and flour sides of a 7" deep round pan (Note: original recipe calls for an 8" pan), line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Sieve together cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Sieve the flour mixture twice and set it aside.
  3. Place vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, set aside.
  4. Place eggs, caster sugar and bananas in a large mixing bowl. With an electric whisk, whisk the mixture at Low speed for a few seconds (to break up the bananas). Change to medium-high speed, and whisk the mixture till it becomes thick, pale and triple in volume. This should take around 7 to 8 mins. The batter should leave a ribbon like trail when the paddle is lifted. Test by lifting up the whisk/paddle, and draw an '8' with the batter. The number should stay for a few seconds. Turn to Low speed again, and beat for another 2 mins. This is to stablise the air bubbles in the batter. (Note: do not over beat the is not a good thing if the '8' doesn't disappear.)
  5. Sieve over the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Each time Fold In the flour carefully with a Spatula, making sure there is no pockets of flour being trapped at the bottom of the bowl. Do not stir the batter with the spatula, it will cause the batter to deflate too much.
  6. Pour a small portion (less than 1/3) of the batter into the mixing bowl in Step 3. Fold in with the spatula until the oil mixture is fully incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour the mixture in Step 6 back into the rest of the batter (Step 5).
  8. Fold in the batter with the spatula making sure the mixture is well combined. (By now the batter could be deflated by about 20% or so as compared to Step 4).
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, the pan should be about 75% to 80% full (Note: original recipe uses an 8" round pan, I baked extra batter in two muffin paper cups) .
  10. Bake in preheated oven at 160 degC for 40-45mins or longer until the surface turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. (The edges of the cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.) Remove from oven, unmold (slide a thin bladed knife along the sides of the pan) and leave to cool (inverted) on a cooling rack.

to make chocolate ganache:
  • Place cream and chocolate chips (or chopped chocolates) in a bowl. Set it over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl is big enough to sit over the saucepan).
  • Stir the mixture gently with a spoon till the chocolate melts and mixture becomes smooth. Remove from the bowl from the saucepan. Use immediately.
to make peanut buttercream:
  • Beat unsalted butter with an electric whisk in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add icing sugar, continue to beat until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add milk beat till smooth. Add peanut butter (gradually so as to adjust to the desired colour tone, use more peanut butter if necessary) and beat till smooth.

to assemble:
  • Make a simple piping bag with parchment paper (refer here for instructions). Fill the piping bag with about 1 tablespoon of chocolate ganache, set aside.
  • Slice the banana sponge cake horizontally into three layers. Place a layer of sponge cake on a cake board. 
  • Spoon about 4 heaped tablespoons of the chocolate ganache onto the surface. Spread evenly with a spatula. Repeat with the second layer of sponge cake. Place the third layer and spoon the remaining ganache over the top and spread it over to the sides. Smooth the surface with the spatula. 
  • On the cake surface, draw/outline the shape of the face of a monkey with a toothpick. Spread the peanut buttercream on the surface. Smooth the surface evenly. Place two chocolate chips (upside down) on the face to make the eyes. Pipe nose and mouth with the piping bag. 
  • Pat the chocolate rice cereal/coco pops on the chocolate frosting. Cut cookie in half and place the halves on each side of the cake for ears. (Note: as the coco pops will turn soft, I will like to suggest to frost the cake as close to serving time as possible.) Store any leftovers in fridge.
Recipe source: monkey cake adapted from here; banana sponge cake adapted from here.


What's Baking?? said...

Awesome monkey cake!

Unknown said...

that is the cutest cake ever! and it also super yummy!!! Happy birthday to your kids, blog and happy new year!!!

Veronica said...

Happy New Year to you and family and all the very best for 2013!

cybil said...

what a cute cake! hapy new year to you as well!
Greetings from Stuttgart/Germany!

Little Joy Factory said...

Happy New Year! I will definitely give it a try as both me and my daughter born in the year of Monkey. THANKS for sharing.

CY said...

Happy New Year HHB! may 2013 be filled with more bakes and more cakes! :)

PH said...

Very cute cake! The monkey face looks very smiley, no wonder your boy was delighted. And I bet it was a very delicious cake. A very Happy New Year to you and your family and may 2013 bring all good things to you all!

The Experimental Cook said...

Lovely cake. Happy New Year to you!

seviminaskanasi said...

very nice blog, I got to follow you, I wish you a happy new year
I'd be happy if you come to visit my blog

Christine said...

Thank you for this brilliant idea! I can't wait to make a cake and decorate it like this! Hopefully this weekend!

Christine said...

Thanks for the idea and recipe, HHB! I just did my Monkey Cake for my nephew's and niece's cake yesterday --

Yours is still look much neater!!

Happy Homebaker said...

Christine, your monkey cake is very cute too!

sherlyn said...

This cake is so cute! MY girl is a monkey... wonder if I remember that I can attempt this cake this Oct or not. Then again, will my boy ask for a sheep cake ? Maybe I must find a sheep cake first. :)

It seemes easy cake but alot of preparation work .. I think I must do ahead, cake first, then deco the next day .. one morning cannot make it ... :(

Happy Homebaker said...

Sherlyn, I will help to remind you ;) I will let you know if I come across any sheep cake ;)

I baked the cake the night before too, actually it is a good thing as the banana sponge cake will taste even better when left overnight.

Maria Luisa said...

So cute! All the best for the new year!:-)

Rumbling Tummy said...

Happy Belated Birthday.

Smiley Baker said...

Nice looking monkey cake. I will try it definitely!

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Unknown said...

that just looks soo nice.

Snugglor said...

Such a cute cake!

lamanresepi said...

We noticed that you have a lots of delicious recipes on your blog, could you share with us?

dessert said...

Incredible!. The design of it is amazing and I felt that your really have a fashion on baking cakes and I wish I'll have too, soon if I'll have an oven to use for baking. Thanks for you recipes. I can use it someday.

Caca said...

this is so adorable

Unknown said...

I'm pleased to meet you online!
Nice monkey cake!
I'm trying to translate in english mi italian food blog!
You can find me here

cody said...

My birthday is in two days, I'm planning to make this recipe. Thanks so much! :)raviole aux cepes

Alice said...

Happy Chinese New Year to u and family, HHB :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Alice, Happy Lunar New Year to you and your family too!

Anonymous said...

i don't like bananas so can i omit it in the recipe? but will this affect the overall taste?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi, I won't recommend you omit the bananas as I am sure the texture will be affected. You may want to look for other sponge cake recipes that do not call for bananas...