Because this is the very last Fat Pants Friday installment I’ll ever write (not counting, of course, this morning’s regurgitation of my all-time favorites), I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide how to best consume my last professionally-mandated serving of simple carbohydrates. Until I finally realized that it only made sense to do so by returning to the origin of my New York bakery obsession, the monkey cake made at Amy’s Bread.
I first ate this cake several years ago at a friend’s birthday party. I had never tasted anything quite like it – with its cream cheese frosting, walnuts, bananas, and pineapple chunks, it struck me as the logical outcome of a ménage à trois between a carrot cake, a hummingbird cake, and a banana cake. I’ve always been a sucker for layer cakes – the more over-the-top and nutritionally ruinous, the better – and the minute I took my first bite of Amy’s monkey cake, I knew I’d found my Platonic ideal.
Layer cakes are a weirdly personal thing: people who love carrot cake, for example, will defend it to the death against those who insist on the supremacy of devil’s food, while yellow and chocolate cakes have inspired their share of territorial skirmishes. I was reminded of this yesterday when I went to Amy’s Bleecker Street store to find some monkey cake. “That’s my cake!” the woman behind the counter replied when I asked if they had it, and we shared brief, greedy smiles of recognition.
Although I love this cake, I hadn’t eaten it for a couple of years and so was a little unprepared for its scale, which verges beyond generous to global. This is a slice of cake that measures about 4 inches wide at its outer edge, and stands about 5 inches high. Laid on its side, it’s like a beached whale. In other words, it’s a proper slice of layer cake. And I ate every bite of it, savoring the contrast between the tangy frosting and the toasted walnuts, and the way the creamy chunks of banana complemented the faint cinnamon notes embedded in the cake’s tender, springy crumb.
Some might call it irresponsible to eat such an enormous slice of cake. I call those people grossly misinformed, and called that cake lunch and dinner.