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Bananas and... 1st birthday cake

Planning my grandson's 1st birthday cake.

As much as I crave the pic of chocolate frosting smeared all over his face and through his hair, bananas are what he really loves. This is the recipe I have in mind http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... but I'm not fond of cream cheese frosting so I'm thinking an Italian Meringue Buttercream. The question is, should I stick to a plain vanilla buttercream or am I missing an opportunity to flavor the buttercream and, perhaps, add something sexy to the filling?

My first thought was a tropical explosion with the buttercream pineapple flavored and fresh mango sliced into the filling. But that might just be over the top and mess with the flavor I know he really loves. An alternative might be this Caramel Cream http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... for the filling and a chocolate butttercream icing.

I"d love some thoughts, recipes and links to do-able 1st birthday cake decorating pix. I've still got 3 weeks to figure it all out.

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  1. i don't know much about 1 year-olds, but why not just do a chocolate frosting? pineapple and mango may well be over the top for a baby, but i'm guessing this party is more for the grown-ups anyway?

    last time i made banana cake, i added chocolate chunks to the batter, put raspberry jam in between the layers and just did a simple whipped cream topping. it was major deliciousness.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Can I have the recipe you used, please? It does sound delicious.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I'm with you. Chocolate and banana are a classic combination. This way you get the banana AND the chocolate smeared face.

      2. If he's only 1 maybe make a simpler smash cake for him (i.e. banana with a plain-ish frosting and fruit decorations) and something more elaborate for the grown-ups?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Xantha

          Yes, I was thinking of doing a cupcake variation for him after "he" blows out the candle on the full-sized cake.

          1. re: rainey

            I might do that the other way around (blow out the candle on the cupcake). Have you seen all the "funny" videos of kids spitting/sneezing/vomiting/etc. on cakes while blowing out candles?

            I would make yellow cake layers, fill with caramelized bananas, and top with a chocolate glaze (let the sides show, mostly) This was a Martha Stewart recipe I made in the past, i can't seem to find it for you know. When they re-jiggered the site a few years ago, they DESTROYED the search function.

        2. How about Hummingbird Cake, a Southern favorite? If not for the birthday boy, then for the older guests. It has a cream cheese frosting that would complement the cake well if you spike either with rum.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            Sorry. Not a fan of cream cheese frosting or rum.

            I really want to stick to banana for the birthday boy but also because I think we'd all enjoy it. I guess a Hummingbird Cake is banana and pineapple but I'd still be looking for alternatives for filling and icing.

            1. re: rainey

              "I really want to stick to banana for the birthday boy but also because I think we'd all enjoy it"

              Maybe you could co-ordinate with parent/mom, will she be making the main cake?

              If there are a lot of people a variety would be nice. Too much banana seems a problem, not like too much chocolate, not a problem.

              With banana, I like strawberry. It's southern cooking, I think, that would put fresh bananas between the layers, sliced in half the long way.

          2. To me, banana goes really well with a strong vanilla flavor (like in bananas foster)... what about doing banana cake with layers of buttercream with a good strong hit of vanilla bean? topped with some slices of carmelized banana... and maybe some vanilla ice cream with it?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Adrienne

              Oooooo! Caramelized bananas sounds GOOD!

              1. re: rainey

                If the top layer were a banana upside-down cake, it would carmelize the top.

                1. re: BangorDin

                  That sounds amazing! And beautiful :)

              2. Thanks for all the great ideas.

                I think I'm up for the banana layers I originally posted. The Caramel Cream filling also still sounds good especially with the prospect of caramelized bananas sandwiched in there too. Then the chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream will give us the photo op AND the yummy finish.

                But I've still got a couple weeks to go so more ideas -- decorating ideas as well -- are very welcome!

                1 Reply
                1. re: rainey

                  Not sure this is what you're looking for, but a friend made monkey-face banana/chocolate cupcakes for her daughter's 2nd birthday, using vanilla wafer cookies - they were cute and delicious. I remember them being a bit like the cupcakes surrounding this cake, although she didn't use the star tip to pipe the icing for the monkey fur. I know you're thinking about a layer cake but maybe you could still use the monkey-face idea somehow.


                2. I made a banana cake with custard icing for my son's 1st birthday 29 years ago for the same reason. He didnt know what to do with it!!! the whole idea of cake is new to a 1 year old - the banana flavor doesnt really enter in since the banana is not recognizable.

                  custard frosting is an old fashioned home recipe that has gone a little out of fashion; does not have the heaviness of cream cheese and goes very well with the banana cake. Needs to be refrigerated. Here's a sample recipe http://southernfood.about.com/od/icin...

                  Congratulations, and enjoy the day!.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks. ;>

                    Actually, I take all of your thoughts. You're right, of course, but this really is more for those of us who know what a "year" and a "birthday" are than the birthday boy. Still, he had a half birthday cake at 6 months and seemed to enjoy a pinch of that cake.

                    I have never heard of custard frosting. Must be something like pastry cream? I'll have a better idea, I guess, when I check out your link.

                    1. re: rainey

                      custard frosting is a nice complement for the type of cake you make in a 9x13 sheet pan and that is good refrigerated (like banana cake) I dont know that I would try this recipe on a layer cakehowever.

                      1. re: rainey

                        No, custard frosting is not like pastry cream, much more like buttercream. It is fluffier, less sweet than American buttercream, less buttery than classic buttercream. It works perfectly on layer cakes. It is much loved on Chowhound. Check out this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760095 and this one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364734

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I hadnt seen these threads. Its nice to know that others are carrying forward these recipes, which were so popular in my grandmother (born 1890) and mother's (born 1922) generations.

                    2. Might want to check with daughter/daughter-in-law to see what he's eating right now -- some moms are pretty cautious with introducing new foods, and he might not *like* things like pineapple, raspberry, rum, etc., etc., etc., and I'm pretty sure that spitting out and refusing to eat his birthday cake isn't in your plans.

                      Keep it simple for his cake -- vanilla frosting or something similar...then if you're going to make a big cake for the grownups, go crazy with *that* one.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        How sweet of you to want to be sure it's not inappropriate for him!

                        My kids ate everything when they were toddlers: Mexican, Indian, Thai, you name it. They are still adventurous eaters and my daughter has been raising my grandson that way as well. He's got 7 front teeth and gums the beejezzus out of the same stuff we eat. If necessary we put it through a coarse mill but at 11 months just smashed with a fork usually does the trick.

                        I'm also really current with his tastes and habits. I do the weekday childcare. ;>

                        1. re: rainey

                          okay -- you didn't say, so didn't know if you saw him regularly or only on big trips...I've just seen some moms that follow the baby books religiously (bordering on fanatically!) and seem to forget that kids have been surviving by eating what their parents eat for a very long time now!

                          Didn't want you to have the "how dare you feed MY baby THAT" tussle with the DD/DIL in the middle of a happy event (and yeah, I've seen that one go down at *our* family gatherings)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            It was sweet of you to be thinking about avoiding hurt feelings. I really appreciate it.

                      2. Is Italian meringue safe for a baby? I'm generally pretty cautious about raw eggs and little ones.

                        I love hotoynoodle's chocolate idea. What about a sour cream fudge frosting so the tang of the sour cream plays off the sweetness of the bananas? I love this one but use more dark chocolate than milk: