Monkey Cake – Cupcake Edition

A banana, pineapple, and walnut spice cake topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting: A Southern classic – NYC Style – perfect for the first day of Spring!


I have a love-hate relationship with Daylight Savings. I hate it because we lose an hour of sleep. But I love it because it means 3 things: Spring. Sunshine. Summer – all of which I would choose over sleep any day!

So when Daylight Savings came around this year, I decided to celebrate by baking up a small batch of Amy’s Bread Monkey Cake, their version of a Hummingbird Cake – in a cupcake! I didn’t want a 9-inch double layer cake lying around the house (the 4 of us in my family don’t have big sweet teeth – I know – terrible for someone who loves baking cakes), so I decided on monkey cupcakes.

This is another recipe from Amy’s Bread cookbook: The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread from which I also made these kitchen sink cookies. This NYC gem is seriously my most favorite bakery in the entire universe! It’s a great local bakery in the city, without the commercial and “tourist-y” feel. They sell everything from breads, cakes, pies, sandwiches, and anything baked!

When I tasted the original Monkey Cake, and instantly fell in love with it. I was never a big cake eater, but the cake won me over with its rich banana and pineapple flavors. The pecans gave a surprising crunch that balanced out the moistness and denseness of the cake.

IMG_0953.JPGFortunately, I had some pineapple in the fridge leftover from the sweet & sour pork my mom made for dinner the other day and several ripe bananas sitting on my counter. I subbed the pecans with walnuts, and used a brown sugar frosting because I didn’t have any cream cheese lying around (and I was too lazy to go out and buy it). The frosting was like any buttercream frosting, which wasn’t the perfect match for the cake so next time, I’ll definitely go for the cream cheese!

The recipe gives instructions for using a stand mixer, but I just mixed everything with a whisk and spatula. I whisked the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another, added the wet to the dry, and stirred in the bananas, pineapples, and walnuts. Be VERY CAREFUL to mix gently. Over mixing the batter will result in a tough cake – not what you want to start off the Spring season!

Be sure to completely cool the cupcakes before frosting! You don’t want the frosting to melt all over them.

As always, bake with love and your sweets will be lovely!

Monkey Cupcakes

slightly adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread
8 cupcakes


11/12 cup Unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon Baking soda
1/3 teaspoon Cinnamon
7/12 cup Sugar
5/12 cup Canola Oil
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2/3 cup Banana, ripe, mashed with chunks remaining
1/3 cup Crushed pineapple, with juice
1/3 cup Pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
Brown sugar frosting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and store briefly on medium-low speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid). In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well-combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed. Do not overmix – this should take less than 20 seconds.

Add the bananas and pineapple and stir briefly on low speed to distribute evenly. Add the pecans and mix again on low speed until just combined. Be sure to scrap the bowl on all sides to make sure everything is combined. Do not overmix your batter!

Divide the batter into the prepared cupcake pan. It should be about 2/3 to 3/4 quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. They are ready when the cupcakes are almost ready to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before taking out the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the brown sugar frosting.

Brown Sugar Frosting

recipe from The Cupcake Project


2 1/2 tablespoon Flour
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup Brown sugar, packed

Cook the flour and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it thickens, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

With an electric mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Taste it to make sure the grittiness is mixed thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and whip until whipped cream consistency. Be patient – this may take a good few minutes. Refrigerate the cream for about 15 minutes to stiffen out for piping onto cupcakes.


  1. This recipe can easily be converted into a 9-inch double layer cake. Just triple all the measurements for a 8-inch or 9-inch cake, or 24 cupcakes!
  2. The original recipe calls for cream cheese icing. See below for the recipe.
  3. Refrigerate cake until 1 hour before serving.

Cream Cheese Icing

Yields frosting for one 9-inch double layer cake

  • 5/8 cup Butter, directly from refrigerator
  • 3/4 cup Poured fondant
  • 3 1/2 8-oz package Cream cheese, directly from refrigerator

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed until butter is malleable. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Add all the fondant and continue to mix on medium to medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. No lumps of fondant should be visible.

Cut the cream cheese into 4 chunks and add them gradually in three portions. Mix at medium speed until the icing is completely smooth, thick, and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.

Store in the refrigerator until use. If it’s too stiff to spread, let it soften slightly at room temperature to a spreadable consistency.

Poured fondant

about 650 g/ 22.9 oz

  • 2 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Light corn syrup

Bring sugar, water, and light corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, stop stirring and cook syrup to 238F. Immediately pour the hot syrup into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Let the syrup cool undisturbed to 140F, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove thermometer and process until glassy syrup converts completely to an opaque paste, 2-3 minutes. Pour into a heatproof container, cover loosely, and let it cool. Once cooled, seal the container and store the fondant for 24 hours before using it. It can be stored at room temperature for 6 days or in the refrigerator for 6 months.


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