During a summer of misspent youth, I worked in a small café where I was first introduced to Hummingbird Cake. Of course, it was love at first bite. Rich with butter and cream cheese, but tangy with pineapple and bananas, Hummingbird Cake is the perfect blend of salty and sweet. It’s cheerfully decadent.
Hummingbird Cake is a Southern Treat
I know Hummingbird Cake originated in the Southern US, so I looked for a recipe in an old Southern Living cookbook. I was a little taken aback by how ingredient intensive the recipe is (I was making this during the time of quarantine when ingredients were scarce.) Since Hummingbird Cake is a celebration cake, I continued with my plans to feature it for Easter.
I tweaked the original version two ways: My reference recipe had too much frosting, and for my taste it was too sweet. Neither of these attributes seem objectionable at first. But trust me, you can have too much frosting which slows you down from eating more cake.
The second tweak was changing the recipe to include only butter, as opposed to the “salad oil” of the original recipe. I like butter, and I know you do too. If this is admittedly a rich, decadent cake, why scrimp?
Small Tweaks Equal Big Results
Having room temperature ingredients may seem a little weird, but soft butter, cream cheese and room temp eggs help the batter combine with just a spoon. A delicate cake is made when you don’t overwork the batter. Electric mixers can overwork a cake very quickly and make it chewy. Be kind and gentle to your batter and you will be pleased with the rewards.
I think this recipe will translate well if you want to use a 9”x13” baking pan (33cm x 23cm) but I haven’t tried it. I did test Hummingbird Cake several times, just to make sure my tweaks on the original recipe wouldn’t disappoint. You know, research. It was time well spent.Print
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 16 servings 1x
- Category: Pastry
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Southern US
3 cups cake flour (375gr)
1 ½ cups sugar (300gr)
1 tsp. salt (4gr)
1 tsp. baking soda (6gr)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (2gr)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups butter, room temperature (460gr)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (10ml)
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained (227gr)
2 cups chopped bananas (450gr)
12oz cream cheese, room temperature (340g)
¾ cup butter, room temperature (172gr)
1 lb. powdered sugar (500gr)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (10ml)
Heat your oven to 350°F (176°C). Prepare three 9” (23cm) round cake pans by buttering the insides well and dusting with flour. If you can, cut three 9” (23cm) rounds of parchment paper to line the bottom of each cake pan so the cake releases easily from the pan after baking.
To make the cake:
Stir together the cake flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and ground cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and butter. Combine half of the egg mixture with the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well. (If you choose to use your electric hand mixer for combining the batter, do not overwork the batter.) Add the remaining egg mixture and stir until the batter is well combined. Add the vanilla extract, pineapple, 1 cup of chopped pecans (or walnuts) and bananas. Stir well.
Pour the batter in even amounts into the baking pans. If you can, it helps to weigh each pan to confirm an equal amount of batter is added to each pan. Place the equally filled pans in the preheated oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when tested. Remove the cake pans from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove each cake from its pan, and cool completely.
To make the frosting:
Combine the frosting ingredients once the cake has completely cooled. Using an electric hand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter. Whip until smooth, about 1 minute. Stir in the powdered sugar until well combined.* Add the vanilla and whip the frosting for 30 seconds with the electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Frost the cake by dividing the frosting into two portions. Use one portion to fill the layers of the cake, and the other portion to frost the top and the sides of the cake. Top the cake with 1 cup of chopped pecans (or walnuts.)
*To avoid a cloud of sugar, use a spoon to stir together the cream cheese mixture with the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated use the electric hand mixer to whip the frosting until its light and fluffy.