Hummingbird Cake

by Cate on May 12, 2009

Hummingbird Cake
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.

Hummingbird Cake
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.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire May 12, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Ah, yes! Hummingbird cake! Very moist and delicious…and skip the cream cheese frosting? Cate, you should be ashamed! ;-) Glad it turned out well…it looks wonderful!

Claires last blog post..Healthy Cookies!


Holly May 12, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Are you familiar with Pampered Chef’s bar pan? I have a recipe for Hummingbird Cake using the large bar pan. It is always a huge hit at potlucks and is so easy to make.

Hollys last blog post..My Cake on TV


Natasha - 5 Star Foodie May 12, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I have never heard of the Hummingbird Cake! How neat – it looks delicious, thanks for sharing the recipe!

Natasha – 5 Star Foodies last blog post..All Things French – Part 2


Debbie May 13, 2009 at 7:21 am

The cake looks great. I’ve never made Hummingbird cake before and hope to try it soon….I definitely don’t want to know the calorie content! I can only imagine!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 13, 2009 at 7:36 am

Bravo! It looks magnificent and I think something lovely happens with the cake and the icing. I think it improves as the cake gets even more moist!


Patsy Kreitman May 13, 2009 at 8:03 am

I’ve never head of that type of cake before, it sounds amazing!


Sarah Caron May 13, 2009 at 8:46 am

That cake looks divine (and PERFECT!). That is a fantastic picture, by the way.

Sarah Carons last blog post..Sometimes We Just Need a Laugh


Cathy May 13, 2009 at 9:07 am

This looks delicious! I am not a fan of making layered cakes either – mine always look odd.

Cathys last blog post..Huli Huli and a birthday present


Veronica May 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

I love hummingbird cake…yours looks so moist-I hope you didn’t let them eat it in the car! ;)

Veronicas last blog post..Caribbean Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno Mango Sauce


krhm May 13, 2009 at 10:15 am

YUM! Hummingbird cake is my favorite. My grandmother just made us one for Easter. Because of the fruit, this cake responds well to subbing applesauce for the oil (and you can reduce the sugar a little more if you do so too). I’ve also used 1 cup of white-wheat pastry flour. Granted, the altered version is not as cake-y, but it still has great flavor. I’d rather have the real deal and just not as often, but thought I’d mention it anyway!


dawn May 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

I’ve seen this a few times but never a picture. Now that I see your fabulous photo I want to try a slice or two.

dawns last blog post..tropical chicken salad


John May 13, 2009 at 11:16 am

looks yummy!


Laura May 13, 2009 at 11:17 am

A southern treat for sure…yum.


jan May 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I’d actually seen the recipe in the book ‘Cake Mix Doctor.’ Yours sounds even better!


Alisa@Foodista May 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

It’s been so long since I last had this! Looks beautiful!

Alisa@Foodistas last blog post..Sweet Corn


maris May 13, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I wouldn’t exactly call this health food but I can think of worse things to eat!


donna May 13, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I have been wanting to make this for a while now. This version sounds fntastic and I loved your review. I am so trying this! Soon!

donnas last blog post..Imitation Post #3 Oreo Cake With Chocolate Pan Frosting and Chocolate Chip Overload Cookies


Culinary Wannabe May 14, 2009 at 6:27 am

I have a small love affair with cream cheese icing. I’ve been know to buy a slice of carrot cake and throw away the cake itself. :) And your picture turned out beautifully – would have no idea that you had some difficulty with it. Nice job!

Culinary Wannabes last blog post..Strawberry Yogurt Muffins


Lynda May 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I’ve eaten this amazing cake before and have wanted to make it, but, as you state it is alot of cake! Yours looks drool-worthy and tasty for anytime, even breakfast!
Glad you used the cream cheese!

Lyndas last blog post..Classic Green Bean Almondine


lisa (dandysugar) May 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I’ve always wanted to make this cake. It looks gorgeous and delicious. SO tempting with the nuts on top! What a yummy breakfast!


megan May 18, 2009 at 9:54 am

I’ve heard of Hummingbird cake but have never tasted it or even seen it till now. I love the name! :) I’ll give it a try when I know I’ll have a big group to serve!

megans last blog post..Mississippi Mud Cookies


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