Hummingbird Cake

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.

 

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

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure your baking powder is still fresh!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (from 3 to 5 bananas)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds (32-ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or other liquor (see Recipe Note)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans, for topping (optional, toasted)
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Special equipment:

Method

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

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

whisking dry ingredients for hummingbird cake

3 Whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, then stir in pineapple, bananas, vanilla, 1 cup of pecans: 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).

whisking wet ingredients for hummingbird cake combining wet and dry ingredients for hummingbird cake

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

5 Pour into cake pans and bake: Pour the batter into the three prepared cake pans, taking care to divide evenly. Bake at 350°F on center racks of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

how to make hummingbird cake - pour batter into baking pans

6 Cool: 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.

Cooling hummingbird cake after baking

7 Make the frosting: Beat the softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered 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 powdered 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.)

8 Frost the cake: 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.

How to make hummingbird cake and frost with cream cheese frosting

3 Sprinkle with chopped pecans: Sprinkle the top completely with the remaining cup of chopped pecans (toasted or un-toasted). Alternatively, press the chopped pecans onto the sides of the cake and leave the top simply frosted.

This cake is best served the day it's made and can be kept, assembled and frosted, for a few hours before servings. If you need to serve it the next day or if you have leftovers, cover the cake as well as possible and refrigerate it. Remove it from the fridge and let it come up to room temperature for an hour or two before serving.