Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monkey's Swan Song


M no longer sucks his thumb. I am soooooo proud of him. Early on I introduced the pacifier hoping it would replace the thumb. It never entirely did. If he did not have his 'sucker' he'd revert to the thumb. He was pretty much contented one or the other.

Around 3yrs, I noticed that excessive sucking was precipitated by his 'lovey' Mikey Monkey. He'd be fine playing, watching TV whatever- no finger sucking- until he saw monkey. We had a chat and it was agreed that Mikey was only for night time. At about 3 1/2 yrs, I was chatting with him about how big he was, almost 4 (he wanted to be 4 so badly he was walking around telling anyone who'd listen that he was 4). Anyways one night I said to him that big boys of 4 don't suck their finger or walk around with monkeys and he should think about giving him up. Immediately he said, "OK, I'll give him to A. I was stunned and then I realized, maybe I was the one who wasn't ready to give up monkey!
"You don't have to do it right now." I said, "You can think about it and then when you are 4 give him up."
"Uh uh," he said, " right now," and he hopped out of bed, went to the other room and rather unceremoniously (it seemed to me), tossed Mickey into his baby brother's crib. " A can have him."

Back in his room I asked, "So how are you going to sleep without sucking your finger?" Sure enough he had a plan for that too. He put both his hands under his bum and by the time my bedtime story was over he was fast asleep sans thumb sucking!!!He hasn't sucked his finger since. I am amazed because I had anticipated a battle of apocalyptic proportions when the time came to quit.

So as a sort of farewell to Mikey monkey I decided to bake a monkey cake for M's 4th birthday. I wanted something that involved minimum cake decorating skill as I wasn't prepared to run out and buy specialty equipment that would not be used again. I decided to make Martha Stewart's somewhat, sinister-looking, sock-monkey cake because the video how-to made it look easy enough. I should mention that I gave little thought to the fact that Martha has people to do this stuff for her, until it was 1:00am and I tried to reference the video to see how to attach the ears and found that the video link was no longer w-o-r-k-i-n-g. Martha and her staff were properly fire-trucked and it sooo WAS NOT a good thing!


Lacking the recommended Martha Stewart 8 1/2" bowl, I used one of my regular stainless steel mixing bowls. I eyeballed the dimensions which turned out to be a bad idea since I ended up with a flatter wider monkey's head. Fortunately the diameter was 9" so I quickly whipped up another regular round 9" base layer. Bonus, as I did not then have to slice the cake in half to frost the center.

Martha advises that the cake be frosted 3 hours before it is actually needed. I frosted this cake the day before and I am glad I did as I learned something that maybe already obvious to you bakers out there; a butter-cream frosting is not well suited to tropical weather.I had to keep putting it back in the fridge so the frosting could firm up as it was very messy to work with it. The whole time DH kept giving me the "why did you bother to embark upon this project when we could have ordered a perfectly acceptable store bought cake," evil eye.

But you mothers out there understand right? Homemade cakes create memories. I remember my own mom baking a cake for me and loading it onto the stroller to bring it to my pre-school which was a 3 min walk from my home, for my birthday. Beside homemade cakes are soooooo much better than those dry up specialty cakes that sit on the shelves for days; all iced perfection on the outside but they are dry dry and tasteless.

I am pleased with the final result. It did take a bit of effort and my end result looks decidedly more homey than Martha's but that is the point of a HOME made cake isn't it? Some advice for anyone wanting to try this cake. It is important to make an 8" diameter cake not 9" like I did. Why? Because 8" gives you some allowance for the addition of the ears so that your cake cover will fit. My cake cover touched the ears and once the frosting hardened up in the fridge the tips of his ears were ripped off and had to be repaired when we removed the cover.

As to the taste of the cake....I altered Martha's recipe by using freshly grated nutmeg which IMO pairs better with banana than cinnamon. I also tossed in some chopped up caramels. This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Diabetes do I hear you I hear you calling? I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup and after tasting it could probably go as little as half cup in the future. The kids gobbled it up. Let's face it, so long as there is frosting, children aren't fussy about the taste of the cake itself. The adults however all felt it was missing a little one could quite say what, until my MIL suggested rum. Ahhah! A little rum sprinkled over my slice. Just Perfect.

PS. I checked my mom on the pre-school cake story and it just goes to show that you can't trust all your childhood memories. My mom remembered the particular birthday and cheerfully informed me (while giving my husband the thumbs up) that it was a perfectly acceptable store bought cake that she brought to my preschool that day!

Also M disappeared at some point in the day and was eventually found hiding behind the sofa 'tiefing' a little suck finger with Mikey:-)!


  1. your cake is cute too!
    mine looks like a bear instead of monkey! :P
    but ultimately, it's about if the kids love it.
    though my boy is too young to even remember his first bday.

  2. BEST. CAKE. EVER. I must have one. lol!