Banana Cabana Birthday Cake & A Letter to Joy the Baker


Dearest Joy the Baker,

I’ve been reading your blog. I think you are funny and lovely and adorable. I think you are a fine, modern woman with a good, old-fashioned head on your shoulders. I adore that you wear aprons and heels in your kitchen. Touche. I also happen to think we would have been fine friends if ever we’d met in high school. Of course, if we’d met in high school, you’d have been a lowly freshman and I a haughty senior. I would have likely been much too busy planning my college career and crushing on show-tune singing boys to be a whole lot of help to you. I had things to do, you know, like try to get a lead in the school play so I had a good excuse to kiss in public, and other important stuff. Though, I like to think I would have sat by you in the lunchroom and giggled at your cleverness. Because you really are pretty & witty & wonderful.


Last week you celebrated your 29th birthday. Happy Birthday to you, dear girl. Today see’s me turning 34. Happy Birthday to me. Seeing as how it’s our birthday week, and how I—the seasoned senior—have five years of living on you, I wanted to give you a gift. The gift of wisdom, gleaned from these years I’ve spent delving deep into my thirties. Take what you desire, leave what you will. I’m hardly an expert on life in the thirties. But I have cooked up a handful of wicked awesome recipes, and I did once kiss a boy onstage. So, there are my credentials. And here is my wisdom for your impending 30’s:

* Photobucket

1) Boys. Boys are nice, aren’t they? I’m glad to see you’ve learned how to woo them with your bad-A baking skills. I once also subscribed to that classic adage about men and their stomachs and their hearts. But, Joy. Don’t be disheartened if you get yourself hitched to the one boy whose heart can not be accessed through his stomach. Do not worry when your handsome (if terrifically skinny) hubby tucks himself into the dinner table and cautiously picks out every bit of onion you so lovingly diced into his bowl of pasta. Or when you visit a lovely little restaurant in Paris and he orders a hamburger. Yep, a burger. In Paris. It’s okay, Joy. It’s okay. Because even if he thinks your Lemon Curd Cupcakes are the essence of everything weird, well…he will still share movie popcorn with you, and kiss the palm of your hand goodnight, and make you chubby-cheeked babies. Which also, of course, means more lemon-curd cupcakes for you.
2)Little sisters. On the topic of little sisters, I highly recommend them. I know you have one for yourself and I applaud you for plentifully doting on her. The proper care and keeping of little sisters is a vital investment in your own happiness. After all, who else can you call when you take your children ice-blocking on a whim and gash a hole in your own chin on the first run, leaving you with six black stitches on your face and heart heavy with sorrow? Who else will call you on your birthday and tease you relentlessly about boys you once made mix tapes for or remind you of the modeling pictures you took of yourself in a navy blue blazer, thereby keeping you tremendously humble (and ever so slightly fearful of blackmailed revenge)?
3) Children. When the time comes for you to consider children of your own, be warned. Whatever desire you have now to eat rose-frosted cupcakes or caramel pudding or berry cobbler bars will be multiplied, times-ed, and quadrupled over the elfin ears and rubber-band wrists of your own babies. Learn now to manage your cravings, lest you be utterly consumed with pure, pink-cheeked deliciousness. You will also be consumed by laundry, but that’s entirely beside the point.
4) Clothing. As you make your final marks on the twenties and move gracefully into your thirties, you may want to reconsider your fashion preferences, desiring to make them more age appropriate. Hoohah, I say. Party dresses, aprons, and heels should oft be donned for as long as you so shall live. Amen.
5) Secrets to Staying Thin. To keep that cute figure well into your thirties, you may have to pour your pancakes ever-so-slightly smaller than you do in your twenties. If you choose this simple method of weight management, you are of course, entitled to stack the pancakes as high as gravity with allow, slather them plentifully with maple syrup, and top them with a variety of fresh fruits and pure whipping cream to keep hunger at bay. After all, there is nothing worse than a pancake-starved 30-something. Except for post-pancake bikini season. But seriously, who says bikini is even a season?
6) Kitchens. The next many years of your life will likely take you hither and yon. Some hithers may seem better than the yons, but it need not matter. You can learn to live and love anywhere you roam, whether you’re cooking in a sleek studio kitchen, or the uncool part of town, or on faux wood floors somewhere in the mountains of Colorado. It’s you that makes a kitchen home. So break out the bowls, stir in some yeast and sugar, and rise to every occasion afforded you—no matter where the occasion may be.
7) Baking. You may forever and always have to bake your own birthday cake. We bakers bring that fate upon ourselves, don’t we? But then again, that means we’re forever and always just 18-22 minutes and a batch of buttercream away from a party. A happy fate, I say, no matter what your age.

Happy Birthday, 29-Year-Old Joy the Baker!

Yours Truly,
34-Year-Old Me


Banana Cabana Birthday Cake
I made my own birthday cake. It was rich and moist and full of baked banana’s then topped with crazy-creamy coconut buttercream. The kids helped me push palm tree lollipops and sugary gum drops into it’s fluffy frosting (both were purchased at Dollar Tree. Aren’t they cute?) Then, we sliced the cake and ate the cake, and I knew it would be a perfectly glorious day.
5 very ripe bananas
5 eggs
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. allspice

In a large bowl, beat together bananas, eggs, butter and brown sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix together well. Pour into two well greased and floured cake pans. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes. Allow cakes to cool before turning onto parchment paper. Refrigerate until very cold before frosting with coconut milk buttercream.
Coconut Milk Buttercream
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. coconut milk
2 sticks butter
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

In a small saucepan, stir cornstarch an coconut milk together over medium heat. Stir until well thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large bowl, combine cooled coconut milk mixture, and remaining ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Frost banana cabana cake.


Now it’s your turn! What sage advice do you have for me on my birthday? Share it and win a Cheeky Birthday party favor sack, filled with all sorts of silly treats, including these adorable ice cream sandwich molds!

If you’re in Northern Utah or Southern California and you’re up for a Cheeky Meet & Greet this summer, be sure to leave your feedback on the sidebar polls.

And, finally….voting closes this week over at Parent & Child. If you havent’ already taken a second to vote (and it really does take just a second) I’d be ever so grateful to you for your click for Cheeky Kitchen. Happy Day to You!

28 Responses to “Banana Cabana Birthday Cake & A Letter to Joy the Baker”

  1. MealPlanningMama says:

    What a great read on a Tuesday Morning! I wish I had sagely advice to add but you've summed it all up :)

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Kristi says:

    My Happy Birthday advice (especially for bakers like us) is to eat everything you make in VERY SMALL QUANTITIES!!! Don't skip, just eat very few of everything and give the rest away. I'm pretty sure this is why, at 30, I've been able to avoid major weight gain. Minor weight gain, yes. Major, no.

  3. I run for cake! says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day! Your banana cabana cake looks amazing!

  4. Amy says:

    No big birthday advice here… My only word would be to not sweat the small stuff. And it mostly is small stuff. I hope you have a wonderful birthday! Thank you for sharing your cooking world with us!

  5. gardenwindow says:

    If you want to have a completely luxurious birthday, head over to Coldwater Creek Spa (they have one in Lakewood Colorado – don't know if this is anywhere near you) where you can have the most wonderfully pampering pedicure – complete with a cushy reclining chair, aromatherapy warm wraps, a leg massage, and if you get the tropical pedicure, you will leave with sparkles on your feet! Pure birthday bliss!

  6. Miss Candiquik says:

    The cake looks awesome! Both of you are genius. Keep up the good work, and remember – life is short, enjoy it!

  7. Brooke says:

    My advice? Keep on, keeping on! You are wonderful and I loved this post! :) Happy Birthday, Brooke!

  8. memoryminded says:

    Your cake is beautiful and your advice is spot-on. My only advice, as I have an additional 7 years on you, is that you enjoy every single little morsel of baking goodness you put in your mouth now, because at 41 you'll gain 5 pounds just looking at your food photos!!

  9. Cookie says:

    From someone who is now in her 50's, but feels like I'm still in my 30's, my advice would be:

    1. Take time for the little things. When your husband wants to hold your hand but you are busy with the kids, let him. It will matter to you (and him) later.

    2. When your children want to show you something silly, but you are too busy with laundry, cooking, cleaning, or just trying to rest, let them show you and then respond with a big laugh or smile or simply tell them how wonderful they are. It will matter to you (and them) later.

    3. Dishes can wait. People don't. Before you know it they will graduate, leave home, and your house will sound very empty.

    4. When it's time for hormones, TAKE THEM (bio-identicals, of course)It will make you feel like you are 30 again.

    5. Sometime around 50 you will look at yourself in the mirror and want to only give to you. That's what menopause is all about, YOU. Your 50s are YOUR time to give to you, whatever it is that you want. GIVE TO YOU when that time comes. It will feel difficult at first, because we are programed to always give to others, but believe me you won't regret these gifts to yourself. It does get easier over time……You will always give to your children, but maybe not as quickly…..

    6.Exercise and Weight Watchers will be your best friends. They will keep you looking and feeling like you are 30!

    7. Never stop learning. Challenge yourself to learn something new every year.

    8. And always find the time to lunch with your girlfriends. My husband's grandmother is in her 90s and she lunches with her other 90 year old friends every week. She still lives alone and drives her little Mercedes on the 405 in LA. Her girlfriends, all in their 90s, keep her young. (Plus, a good martini now and then…..)

    9. Baking your own birthday cake is an honor. Always let it be. You are the most special person you will ever bake for. I bake my cake each year and I turn it into a day of honoring ME and all that I have loved and lived in the past year.

    10. And finally, say thank you every day, as often as possible. It keeps you young!!

    I feel and look better than I ever did in my 30s. Life gets better with each decade. I know you will agree with me someday when you reached your amazing 50s!

  10. Sweet Plate says:

    We love your blog and want to wish you a Happy Birthday!

    We made your lemon-kissed buttermilk cupcakes and wrote a post about them on our blog.

    Your birthday cake looks wonderful!

  11. Ann says:

    Ahhh! I too love Joy the Baker and read her blog like she is my friend! This is so sweet! Happy Birthday to you and to her!

  12. Camille says:

    Happy Birthday my friend!

    I, as well, am celebrating this coming week – a year older than you. YOU, however are far more savvy and sage than I. I haven't even kissed a boy onstage! ;)

  13. Suzy Q says:

    Lovely letter to Joy. Ditto on giving most of what you make away. (Easy for me since generally by the time whatever I am making comes out of the oven, I have had enough 'tastes for quality assurance' that I am not even interested in the final product!)

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for a fun read!

  14. smalltownoven says:

    This cake looks delicious!!

    As for sage advice, I don't have much to offer except a Tide-to-Go pen is one of the greatest things to ever hit my purse :)

  15. Heather says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday to Brooke!! You are just too sweet and what a lovely letter to Joy.
    This Banana Cake looks heavenly and I can't wait to try.
    And my little words of advise…is just stop and enjoy those little moments in life, all of them. Whatever they may be and whenever they may be. Life is too short not to.
    Love this post and thanks for making me smile, as always!

  16. mangiabella says:

    happy birthday once again to a beautiful soul – I only have one and 1/2 years on you sweet bella, but I can share a few things that I think are worth chewing on

    1) never fight where you are at along this life journey – embrace it – you will undoubtedly wear yourself out trying to rush through challenging seasons, and possibly miss things you're meant to face.

    2) Learn the freeing art of simply saying, "I don't know", and giving it time…those "I don't know's" in life can be gifts to keep us humble, curious, aware and truly alive.

    3) we all tend to have an inner critic that can literally sap all the creative inspiration from us if we don't name it and fight it and stand on what we know to be true.

    4) "comparing" is truly a cancer of the soul, unnecessary and unfruitful in every way. We sometimes get so caught up in focusing on what God is doing in other people's lives that we neglect to notice what He is doing in our own lives.

    5) gratitude & the art of thankfulness is truly the nucleus of wonder and joy in our day to day lives.

    6) always save a little room in your tummy for an unexpected nosh, you never know when a good friend – or- a new friend will cross your path – and it could very possibly be "the unpardonable sin" to be "too full" to share a nibble with another soul :)

    ciao bella!

  17. cookies and cups says:

    very cute! love that joy too!

  18. Pink Little Cake says:

    You turned 34 on Monday and I turned 36 yesterday! Happy Birthday! Keep baking and sharing recipes with us. We love to come her and finf lovely yummy photos and treats. Have a great week.

  19. Cecily says:

    As a much older 34, the only advice I can offer is to send samples of you goodies to me. Then I wouldn't have to painstakingly figure out what to substitute for the ingredients I am out of on a fine Sunday afternoon. (Though I haven't had a problem with things turning out tasty.) Happy birthday.

  20. Maria says:

    Happy Birthday! Love that cake!

  21. lo says:

    My advice:

    Always make room for the silly & ridiculous. (Like those awesome jellies on top of your cake!)


  22. Heather I. says:

    You give great advice! That banana cake looks so delicious, and that frosting is to die for, I'm sure. Happy late birthday!

  23. Aimée says:

    I'm going to print this for my birthday (I'll be 32,which is so….anticlimactic…and old)
    It's a bloody fantastic list. I sure hope Joy read it!

  24. Cow Belles: Southern Sophistication says:

    Happy Birthday. The cake looks fabulous.

  25. Judy says:

    The solution to pollution is dilution!

  26. Kristen says:

    Such great wisdom (and what an amazing cake!) You are cracking me up this morning :)

  27. Carol Peterman says:

    I just found your blog, very entertaining and I especially enjoy that I read your writings in the voice of Alice from United States of Tara. Your photo no doubt tipped my brain in that direction. Looking forward to more.

  28. Mliss says:

    I just discovered your blog while trying to find that rainbow cake recipe to make for a friend. Its my bday next month, and my fourth baby is only just 4 months old.
    I am a baker and yup, no one yet has offered to ever make my cake for me ;-)
    Your advice numbers 3, 6 and 7 hit a serious home for me!
    So, my number 8 that I'd add?
    Be Here Now. This moment is truly only a moment, it will pass and you will face new scenery, challenges, delights and disappointments.
    So sink your teeth into every bite of your birthday cake and savour each one. Make it again and guaranteed — it'll taste different. Live fully in this moment, it is sweet.
    Happy birthday from Sunny South Africa!

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