Hummingbird Cake

Please welcome my dear friend, guest author Steve-Anna Stephens as she shares a Southern classic, just in time for Mother’s Day! ~Elise

Do you have a sweet tooth? Truth be told—I do not. At all. Pass me a second helping of beef tenderloin at dinner, thank you very much, and you can have my dessert. So, the Hummingbird Cake perplexes me, because, well, I can’t stop eating it. Maybe it’s the pecans that lure me in, or the way the taste fools me into thinking I might just be eating a fancy piece of banana bread with a little cream cheese. Good for you, right?

This has to be the one of the sweetest, most scrumptious cakes around. Given their love for sugary nectar, one has to imagine hummingbirds would love to feast on this cake. But tough luck, hummingbirds! No one’s leaving this cake outside unattended.

Since the original recipe for Hummingbird Cake first appeared in 1978 in Southern Living, it holds the title for the “most requested recipe” in the magazine’s history. This version differs from the basic one only slightly. I’ve added nutmeg, used both baking soda and baking powder for a little extra browning and lift, and added some Cointreau to the frosting. It’s a wonderfully simple cake to make, with impressive results on all counts.

Have you ever tried Hummingbird Cake? If you haven’t, and you have a sweet tooth, this cake’s for you. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12 to 16.

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure your baking powder is still fresh!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3-4 bananas)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients*

  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lbs (32-ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp Cointreau**
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans, for topping (optional, toasted)
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Frosting Notes:

*The cream cheese frosting recipe can be cut in half if you prefer less frosting. If so, apply sparingly so there is enough to cover the entire cake.

**Feel free to use any favorite liquor, such as Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Cognac, Armagnac, Brandy or even Bourbon. Or, simply omit the liquor and use 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Method

Cake

1 Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

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In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (optional).

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In a separate bowl, whisk the canola oil, sugar, and eggs together until combined. Stir the pineapple, bananas, vanilla and one cup of the chopped pecans into the egg mixture and mix (do not beat).

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold the moist ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined (do not over-mix).

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Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans, taking care to divide evenly.  Bake on center racks of oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on wire racks for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and remove the cakes from the pans.  Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 Cream the softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer. With the mixer on a slow speed, add the confectioners’ sugar in small amounts until all is incorporated, then add the Cointreau and vanilla and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Note: Do not add the confectioners’ sugar while the mixer is set on a high speed, or you will create a snowy mess of sugar all over your kitchen. [Please do not ask me how I know this.]

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2 Place one layer, top down, on a large plate or cake stand (this creates a smooth surface on the top and results in a more level cake). Spread frosting evenly over the first layer, then repeat with the second and third layers, then frost the sides.

3 Sprinkle the top completely with the remaining cup of chopped pecans (toasted or untoasted). Alternatively, press the chopped pecans onto the sides of the cake and leave the top simply frosted. Store in refrigerator, then remove one hour before serving to allow the cake to come to room temperature.

Main Ingredients

Course

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