Last week, I gave the kids in car pool a choice … strawberry cupcakes or a Hummingbird Cake. Hummingbird Cake won hands down, no doubt because they had no idea what it was. I love the adventurous spirit … we could all use a little more of that sometimes.
Of course, midway through making the darn thing, I was cursing letting the kids make the choice to begin with. I can count on one hand (and have fingers leftover) how many times I have made a double layer cake, let alone a triple layer cake, which this was. I was trying to hurry the process along so I could get the kids off to bed and the layers were sliding all over the place. I also r-e-a-l-l-y suck at frosting layered cakes. Truly.
I was tempted to skip the cream cheese-based frosting and going with my to-die-for buttercream, but I ended up keeping with the original recipe. It took great restraint, I assure you. By the time I was done, the frosting was soft and the cake ultra-messy. I slid the plate into the refrigerator and herded the kids upstairs. I was sure the next morning would be a sad one indeed, with a lopsided, unedible cake waiting for me in the fridge. As I got Nick ready to head out the door, I snuck a little piece. What? Is there a problem with cake for breakfast? It has fruit in it! Besides, I wanted to see how terrible it was.
Lo and behold, something happened overnight and it actually all worked out. Beyond working out, it was way more than edible. It was moist, majestic and simply divine. Truly. I quickly cut half the cake and slid it onto a plate for the car pool gang. No way was I keeping so much of this hard-to-resist cake in the house. Another large section of it went to the office later on. That left a few slices for us to feast on over the next few days.
Hummingbird Cake is a traditional Southern dessert, and Southern Living magazine lays claim to the first printed reference for the recipe back in 1978. The version I made is nearly identical to the Southern Living version (from the Dallas Morning News), and now that I’ve read the nutritional stats on the finished product, I will spare you the agony. Suffice it to say that it’s not an everyday treat (what dessert is?), but a something different, once-in-awhile thing that you can enjoy. Even for breakfast. Just make sure to share.
Recipe courtesy of the Dallas Morning News
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, divided use)
2 cups chopped bananas
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Icing (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter; dust the bottom and sides with flour. Set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and stir until well blended. Add the eggs and oil, and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened, taking care not to beat them. Stir in the pineapple and juice, 1 cup of the nuts, the bananas and vanilla.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto racks to cool completely.
Spread the icing between the layers, stacking them on a cake plate. Ice the top and sides of cake, and sprinkle remaining nuts over the top. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Icing: Combine 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese with 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, both at room temperature. Add 2 (16-ounce) boxes of powdered sugar, sifted; beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.