Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake is another of those oil based cakes that are moist and delicious.  Think of Carrot Cake or Apple Butterscotch Bars--moist and delicious.  If you are a lover of banana bread then you'll enjoy (dare I say "love") this cake. 

I had never heard of Hummingbird Cake until a few years ago (that could be 20 years as time is flying away on me) and was intrigued by the name.   Why would a cake be named after a bird?  I did a little research on the encyclopedia of google and found it originated in Jamaica in the mid-twentieth century and migrated to the Southern states soon thereafter.  The name is still somewhat shrouded in mystery.  Some think it was named such because it was as sweet as the nectar hummingbirds eat and others because of the yellow streaks of banana and pineapple, in the cake itself, reminding the eater of a bird's plumage.  However it got its name, it's one humdinger of  a cake.  If you have never eaten a slice of the rich, moist tropical cake you are missing out on a taste bud sensation. 

As I stated above I was intrigued by the name but also by the ingredients which were similar to those of a carrot cake so I decided it was worth giving a try.  Oh my, was it ever worth making.  True, it does have a similar texture to the carrot cake but the flavour is definitely different.  The Hummingbird Cake is intensely banana flavoured and that, mingled with the taste of pineapple and pecans, gives this cake its special status in the world of desserts. 

And as if to gild the lily, this cake is swirled with Cream Cheese Frosting and often adorned with more toasted pecans.  

It is truly a magnificent cake but so easy to make.  No mixer is required and it can be ready for the oven in less than 15 minutes.  Most of the work is in the chopping of the pecans and bananas.   As far as I can tell, the cake was traditionally baked in two or three layers but I have also made it in a bundt pan with great success.  And if you'd like to downplay its magnificence, make it in an oblong pan and serve it from that.  It will taste as good but you will be not held in such awe of your culinary presentation. 

As I often advise, this cake is best made when serving more than two or three.  Keep it for a special occasion where friends and family can help you enjoy this truly delightful cake.

Hummingbird Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pan(s).  Grease and line with parchment paper where necessary:  Large Bundt pan (greased), 9x13-inch cake pan (greased and lined if removing from pan),  three 9-inch round cake pans (greased and lined). 

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add eggs and oil, stirring until mixed.   This will be quite thick at this stage. Mix in vanilla and pineapple combining well.  Stir in the pecans and bananas and mix until everything is well combined.

Bake in preheated oven in chosen pan(s). Bundt pan or a 9x13 inch cake pan, for 50 - 60 minutes, for  9-inch cake pans bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool the cake(s) for 10 minutes and then turn out on cake rack to finish cooling.  If you wish, you may leave the 9x13-inch cake in the pan and frost and serve directly from the pan. 

Makes 12-16 servings. 

Frost cooled cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 – 8 ounce package Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2-4 tablespoons milk, as needed

Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and gradually add the icing sugar using enough milk to make an icing of spreadable consistency.   

The frosted cake may be garnished with more chopped pecans.  Toast the pecans for better flavour.

Chop the nuts and bananas before beginning the cake.  I like to toast the pecans but it's not necessary.  The bananas should be very ripe but not mushy.  Dice the bananas in small pieces.

 Mix the dry ingredients together until well combined.

Add eggs and oil, stirring until mixed.  You will notice the mixture will be very dry.

Add the undrained pineapple and vanilla combining well.  The mixture will become quite moist and manageable.  When the pineapple is well mixed in, stir in the banana and nuts.

Bake the batter in three 9-inch pans until golden brown.  You may also bake the cake in a bundt or tube pan or a 9x13-inch pan. 

Frost cake with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Decorate with extra pecans.

Cut a slice for yourself.

Doesn't that look good!

Open wide...

Have another bite...go on, you know you want to. 



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