Before you even ask, don’t bother. I don’t know why it’s called a Hummingbird cake. It doesn’t look like a hummingbird. It’s not made for hummingbirds. It’s certainly not made from hummingbirds… From everything I’ve read, no one is really sure why it is named as such. From all that I’ve read, the only thing people can figure is that it’s called Hummingbird cake because of it’s sweetness. You know, because hummingbirds like nectar. I didn’t know that hummingbirds specifically like pineapple and banana, since those are the fruits that lend their sweet characteristics to this cake, but you know, maybe they really do.
This is a cake that is a cinch to make and is something like a cross between a carrot cake and banana bread. It is not fussy or fancy, just tasty. And it transports and keeps well, which is part of the reason I chose to make it for the Easter brunches I was attending this year. I made one batch of this batter and divided it between two bundt pans and took one to each of my brunches. This cake was a big hit! And since it’s covered with pecan cream cheese frosting, why wouldn’t it be a hit??
The first published version of this recipe is credited to Southern Living magazine, from their February 1978 issue. I found the original page with the recipe from the magazine online and it’s kindof neat if you want to look at it.
I adapted the recipe that follows from the original one found in Southern Living and the frosting from the one on Joy of Baking website. This is very delicious. I also made a few mini cupcakes with some of the batter so that I would be able to “test” it before taking the cakes to my Easter brunches. I just hate giving edible gifts that I haven’t first tasted. These were very cute and very yummy as well. I gave a couple to my neighbor and buddy Karen who said “I only had one BIG complaint.” And I said, “What is that?” to which she replied “They were too small! Hahaha!”.
(Adapted from “Hummingbird Cake” from Southern Living Magazine and from joyofbaking.com)
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup safflower, corn, or canola oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple, do not drain
- 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium sized bananas)
Ingredients for the Frosting:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 2/3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (to taste)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- 2-4 tbsp. milk or cream, optional (to reach desired consistency if you prefer thinner more “glaze-like” frosting)
- Pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with rack in the center position
- Butter or spray two – 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. OR spray the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan with baking spray
- Place the pecans (for the cake, frosting and garnish) on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop finely, leaving a few whole halves if toasting extra for garnish
- In a large bowl whisk together both flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.
- In another large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans.
- Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes with just a few moist crumbs attached. OR pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs
- Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting
Directions for Frosting and Assembly:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps
- Gradually add the SIFTED powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the finely chopped pecans. Beat in additional sugar to taste or cream/milk to thin down. Thinned down is great for frosting bunt cake versions of this recipe
- If making a layer cake, place one cake round on serving platter, smooth a thick layer of frosting over the top and then place the second round ontop. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with pecan halves if desired. If you made a bundt cake, frost it or drizzle thinned frosting over the whole thing and then garnish with pecan halves