Atomic Cake Recipe: Cupcake Version

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The Atomic cake is a wonderful celebratory cake that is typically made for milestone occasions. It is a delicious creation that includes 3 layers of cake that are Banana, Chocolate and White. The cake is then stacked with three layers of freshly made pudding, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding and banana pudding, and fresh strawberries, ripe sweet bananas layered in between, and covered with fantastic whipped cream.

Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.
Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.

The idea of the Atomic Cake was thought to have originated in the 1940’s. Research shows the exact history of the cake is not known, but it was thought to be created in Chicago’s south side in honor of the first ever nuclear reactor. Since then, the cake has been referred to by other names such as the atom bomb cake or the banana split torte.

There might be occasions where you want to make a huge 3-layer cake with 3 layers of pudding, but this cake needs to be eaten right away or the bananas will turn brown. And if you don’t have 10-20 people to help you consume it, it might seem wasteful. With that in mind, we have come up with a way to make this same cake as cupcakes so that they can be enjoyed in individual portions if desired, without having to be overwhelmed with a huge cake.

Celebrating Atomic Cake, the Iconic South Side Creation That Defies Gravity

This cake is said to have defied gravity. I think that’s mainly because of the impressive aspect that its presentation provides. After you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the experience of consuming your atomic cake, perhaps you’ll agree.

Chicagoland Atomic Cake

Most of the history of the Atomic Cake has been lost since the cake is thought to have originated in the 1940’s. But what we do know is who truly invented the Atomic Cake and why it stayed on the South Side remain a mystery. But in the recent past, an Atomic Cake Deluxe has emerged at bakeries across the South Side of Chicago, topped with a pour of chocolate and a crown of chocolate-covered strawberries, making a new spin on this bakery confection.

Atomic Cakes: The Bombastic South Side, Dessert That Combines Three Cakes Into One

Three cakes combined into one can be quite a task for the creator. But three cakes combined into one can be quite a delight for the consumer. Just imagine eating chocolate cake, banana cake and white cake along with your favorite pudding flavors all on the same fork. And top it off with fresh strawberries, bananas and whipped cream. This cake is lush.

This South Side Delicacy Combines Chocolate, Yellow And Banana Cakes Into One Staggering Display of Baked Goodness

The stunning Atomic Cake is quite a stunning display when it is all assembled. There are not many cakes that include 3 different flavors of cake plus three different flavors of pudding and fresh fruit all wrapped up in whipped cream.

The impressive aspect really takes place when the cake is sliced. Before that it simply looks like just a plain white cake. Slicing the cake allows the true beauty to shine through and that’s when you hear folks gasping in awe because of what they’re about to enjoy.

Tips For The Best Cake

The following are tips to help you make the best Atomic Cake or cupcakes if you prefer.

1. Don’t over mix the cake batters or they will cause the cake to be too dense rather than light and fluffy. Instead, stir them until all ingredients are incorporated and that’s it.

2. Don’t over bake or under bake the cake. Use a toothpick in the center of the cake or cupcakes and see if it comes out clean. If there is still batter on the toothpick, the cake needs to cook a bit longer.

3. Let everything cool before assembly. Whether you’re making 1 large cake or several cupcakes, you’ll want to let the cakes cool completely before assembling them. Otherwise with warm cake, stacked with pudding and whipped cream, everything will just fall into a messy slump.

4. Keep in mind that bananas turn brown once they’re sliced. We recommend leaving the assembly of this cake to shortly before it will be served. If you have to assemble this cake ahead of time, be sure to use the pudding to cover the sliced bananas to prevent air from touching them and making them turn brown.

Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.
Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.

How To Slice A Layer Cake

Slicing a several layer cake can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you be successful.

1. Make nice clean slices of cake to show off layers.

2. The entire cake or complete cupcakes should be chilled for at least 30 minutes before it is sliced. Otherwise, you can end up with a mess.

3. Use a serrated knife and use back and forth sawing motions to make the cuts. The key is the sawing motion without pressing down much at all. Pressing down with cause the pudding to ooze out.

4. Use a napkin or paper towel to wipe knife clean between layers so that you don’t end up with nasty crumbs in your whipped cream layer of the next slice.

Weighty Cake

As you might imagine, Atomic Cake is a weighty cake that should be served on china plates, not your flimsy paper plates. Whimpy paper plates are typically too floppy to hold the weight of Atomic Cake. 

Tools That Will Help in Constructing and Icing a Layer Cake

There are several tools that can be helpful to use when making this cake. These are all helpful, not required to make the cake.

1. Use a serving platter or flat cake stand to place, assemble and serve the cake.

2. Use a cake leveler to level the cakes before stacking them. This can help to prevent an odd shaped cake that crumbles.

3. Use a turntable to spread the whipped cream or buttercream outer layer.

4. Use piping bags and tips if desired to create a decorative touch.

Need to Know: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Store Atomic Cake?

Atomic cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Keep in mind the bananas will turn brown overnight and will likely need to be removed before consumption.

How Long Does Atomic Cake Last?

Atomic Cake can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I Freeze Atomic Cake?

Atomic Cake can be frozen, but you’ll want to keep in mind that bananas turn brown when frozen. If you know you’re going to be freezing a portion of your cake, consider removing the bananas before placing the cake in the freezer or making the cake without bananas.

Can I Make Atomic Cake Ahead?

Atomic cake can be made ahead, but we don’t recommend making it too far in advance if you’re going to be using sliced bananas as the recipe instructs. Sliced bananas turn brown in a few hours.

What is an Atomic Cake?

An Atomic Cake is a three layer cake made with chocolate, banana and yellow or white cake. It is layered with 3 kinds of pudding, chocolate, vanilla and banana and includes sliced strawberries, bananas and is topped with whipped cream.

What to Serve With Atomic Cake

Atomic Cake goes great with any kind of celebratory meal such as a birthday, anniversary, retirement or graduation. Atomic cake goes well with meat and potatoes, a pasta dinner or simple soup and salad.

Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.
Atomic Cake. Photo by CookThink.

Recipe Variations

1. Frosting. The Atomic Cake is traditionally finished with a whipped cream layer. It helps to tie the whole cake together. You can use homemade whipped cream made by whipping heavy cream with sugar or you might choose to buy frozen whipped topping. Or some prefer to use buttercream frosting for the external layer.

2. Cake size. You might choose to make your cake as a personal size in cupcake tins for easier manageability or because you want a smaller quantity. If you want to make a large cake, just use a full cake mix for each of the 3 cake flavor layers.

Ingredients For Atomic Cake, Personal Sized Cakes

Making an Atomic Cake requires quite a few ingredients, but don’t fear, these don’t all need to be made from scratch. They can be if you prefer. But most people don’t have the time or energy to make it all from scratch. We’ll show you how to make this cake with as much ease as possible. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
Banana, 2 large ripe
enough Milk to make puddings as directed on box
1 quart Fresh Sliced Strawberries
1 cup sugar, divided
Whipped Cream

Atomic cake. Photo by CookThink.
Atomic cake. Photo by CookThink.

Instructions

Batter

Yellow or Banana Cake, 1 layer
Chocolate Cake, 1 layer
Yellow or White Cake, 1 layer

1. Since we’re going to make this Atomic Cake in a personal size, you can simply buy 1 white or yellow cake mix and divide it to make the 3 different flavors. In our sample recipe, we used 1 box yellow cake mix and prepared it as suggested on the box.

2. Divide the batter into thirds and set aside one portion. Add ½ cup mashed banana and mix it to make the banana cake in the second batter portion. Using the third portion of prepared batter, add ½ cup baking cocoa and mix it to make the chocolate cake.

3. Pour ¼ cup of batter into greased cupcake cups, using chocolate batter in some cups, banana in some and yellow or white in the others.

4. Bake at 350F degrees for 10 minutes. Check the cupcakes for doneness. Return to the oven a bit longer if needed.

5. Remove cakes from baking pan and let cool completely.

Filling

Banana Pudding
Chocolate Pudding
Vanilla Pudding

1. Use milk to prepare 3 flavors of instant pudding as directed on their boxes.

2. Refrigerate to chill.

Fruit

1. Peel and slice remaining banana.

2. Wash, hull and slice strawberries. Mix with ½ cup sugar and let stand.

Whipped Cream/Frosting

1. If you are using homemade whipped cream, prepare it by adding the heavy whipping cream and ½ cup sugar to a mixing bowl.

2. Use an electric mixer to mix on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form.

Assembly and Finishing

1. Before assembling make sure that all ingredients have completely cooled.

2. Assemble cupcakes or cake by placing banana cake on the cake platter, top with banana slices covered by a layer of banana pudding.

3. Next, gently stack the yellow or white layer on top and add strawberry slices, cover with pudding.

4. Gently place the chocolate cake layer on top and top with chocolate pudding.

5. Finish with whipped cream or buttercream frosting as preferred.

Atomic Cake: Cupcake Version

It is a delicious creation that includes 3 layers of cake that are Banana, Chocolate and White. The cake is then stacked with three layers of freshly made pudding, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding and banana pudding, and fresh strawberries, ripe sweet bananas layered in between, and covered with whipped cream.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time38 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: atomic cake

Equipment

  • cake or cupcake pans
  • mixing bowl
  • electric mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 large, ripe bananas
  • Milk, enough to mix according to box instructions
  • 1 quart Fresh Sliced Strawberries
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ pint Heavy Whipping Cream

Instructions

Batter: chocolate, yellow, banana

  • Since we’re going to make this Atomic Cake in personal sized cupcakes, you can simply buy 1 white or yellowcake mix and divide it to make the 3 different flavors. In our sample recipe, we used 1 box yellow cake mix and prepared it as suggested on the box.
  • Divide the batter into thirds and set aside one portion. Add ½ cup mashed banana and mix it to make the banana cake in the second batter portion. Using the third portion of prepared batter, add ½ cup baking cocoa and mix it to make the chocolate cake.
  • Pour ¼ cup of batter into greased cupcake cups, using chocolate batter in some cups, banana in some and yellow or white in the others.
  • Bake at 350F degrees for 10minutes. Check the cupcakes for doneness. Return to the oven a bit longer if needed.
  • Remove cakes from baking pan and let cool completely.

Filling: chocolate, vanilla, banana

  • Use milk to prepare 3 flavors of instant pudding as directed on their boxes. chocolate, vanilla, banana.
  • Refrigerate to chill.

Fruit: strawberries and bananas

  • Peel and slice remaining banana.
  • Wash, hull and slice strawberries.

Whipped Cream/Frosting

  • If you are using homemade whipped cream, prepare it by adding the heavy whipping cream and ½ cup sugar to a mixing bowl.
  • Use an electric mixer to mix on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form.

Assembly and Finishing

  • Before assembling make sure that all ingredients have completely cooled.
  • Assemble cupcakes or cake by placing banana cake on the cake platter, top with banana slices covered by a layer of banana pudding.
  • Next, gently stack the yellow or white layer on top and add strawberry slices, cover with pudding.
  • Gently place the chocolate cake layer on top and top with chocolate pudding.
  • Finish with whipped cream or buttercream frosting as preferred.
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