Friday, July 13, 2012

Hummingbird Cake

So Kelly's post about Sunshine Cake got me to thinking about another old-fashioned favorite, Hummingbird Cake. I first heard of Hummingbird Cake on a visit to my Aunt June's in Pikeville, TN in the late 70s. Of course, being all of about 14 years old, I was convinced she was making confections out of sweet, innocent little birds and was naturally horrified. Once she convinced me that wasn't the case I dug in to find a dense, moist cake flavored with bananas, pineapple and pecans and then slathered with thick cream cheese frosting - divine. Really cream cheese frosting on anything - right?

The cake first appeared in a 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine and has since become a southern staple. Here's a recipe from Art Smith - no actual hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this recipe.

Servings: Serves 12
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped ripe bananas
  • 1 cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs , beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter , at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 4 1/2 cups sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cake, position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly butter two 9" round cake pans, sprinkle evenly with flour and tap out the excess. (If you wish, butter the pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, then flour the pans and tap out the excess.)

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir or whisk the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined. Do not use an electric mixer. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. Do not beat. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly into the pans.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks (remove the parchment paper now if using). Turn right side up and cool completely.

To make the icing: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. On low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla, to make a smooth icing.

Place 1 cake layer, upside down on a serving platter. Spread with about 2/3 cup of the icing. Top with the second layer, right side up. Spread the reaming icing over the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored, uncovered in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.


  1. what you need to do is make this cake, and then decorate it with fondant flowers and hide a wee little sugar hummingbird in among them. First person to find the hummingbird gets the first piece of cake.

  2. Fun! Now if I only knew how to make a sugar hummingbird!

  3. It looks very good. Are you going to make it?


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