My first recollection of hummingbirds takes me back to my grandmas kitchen. As a child I would watch my grandma fill the hummingbird feeder with a sweet nectar. She would then hang the feeder right outside the kitchen window, and we would watch the little things pause to take a sip. I was always mesmerized by their wings that seemed to flap so fast you could barely tell they were moving. What a unique creature!
I seem to always be drawn to unique things. Whether its clothes, wedding decor, or recipes. I do not like to settle for anything less than the unique- something that requires thought, or has depth.
The name of this cake immediately caught my attention. One, it reminded me of fond times with my grandmother. Two, I had never heard of Hummingbird Cake before. I believe I first ran across the recipe on pinterest. Not too long after that, I was in Houston visiting my husbands family and a restaurant there had the cake. I did not get the chance to try it, but it stayed in the back of my mind, on my list of things to bake. After looking through several recipes, I decided on this one, adapted from Boulder Locavore. This recipe is unique in that it uses part brown sugar, and it calls for roasted bananas. I would also like to try adding toasted coconut next time.
I have read this recipe described as a cross between carrot cake and banana cake (2 cakes I love!). There are no carrots in the cake, but it does have a spice cake taste. When I tasted the batter (yes I am a batter girl, thanks Daddy), my immediate thought was “nectar”. It tasted like sweet hummingbird nectar (not that I’ve tasted it before, but I can imagine). The cream cheese pecan frosting is less sweet than most cream cheese frostings, which I believe completely balances the sweetness of the cake. At first bite, this is one of those cakes you can’t quite put your finger on, which draws you to a second bite, and a third. It is truly unique in taste, moist in consistency, and like no other cake you have tried. You will not be disappointed. As we draw near to Christmas, consider making this cake for your next party (or hire me to make it! haha) ! I promise it will be a hit!
P.S. I made this cake for my Dad for his birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!
The Best Hummingbird Cake
Ingredients for Cake
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed (see directions below)
- 2 cups roasted bananas, mashed (approximately 5 medium bananas; see instructions below)
- 1 cup chopped toasted (see below) pecans
Ingredients for Icing
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
- 3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese, chilled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups finely chopped toasted (see below) pecans
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans for garnish
Directions for Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. To roast bananas: With peels still on, place bananas on baking sheet. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Peels will turn black and bananas may leak. Once done, set bananas aside until cool enough to peel. Peel bananas and place in a small bowl. Mash bananas and set aside.
3. To toast pecans: Place all pecans (preferably before they are chopped, but if they are already chopped that is okay), 3 cups total between the pecans for cake and icing, on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until fragrant. Keep a close eye on them as they burn quickly.
4. Grease and flour 3, 9 inch round pans.
5. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
6. In another large bowl combine the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, quickly stirring until smooth. Do not use a mixer.
7. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar and egg mixture until smooth.
8. Add the flour (all at the same) to the sugar/ egg mixture. Hand stir the mixture until fully combined.
9. Crush the pineapple by placing 1 cup of finely chopped pineapple in a medium bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
10. Pour pineapple, along with its juice into the mixture. Also add the mashed bananas and 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans. Fold the pineapple, bananas, and pecans into the mixture until just combined.
11. Pour the batter evenly into the 3 greased and floured pans. Tap pans on counter to release any air bubbles in the batter. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then release the cakes from the pans and cool on cooling rack until completely cool.
** TIP: I placed my pans directly from the oven into the freezer for 30 minutes- 1 hour. This helps lock moisture into the cake. I then release the cakes onto a cooling rack until completely cool. If time allows, wrap cakes in seran wrap once cool and place in refrigerator overnight or several hours. This will prevent the cakes from cracking once stacked.
Directions for Icing
1. Cut the butter and cream cheese into 1 inch pieces. Using a mixer, beat the butter until softened. Next, add cream cheese and mix until combined.
2. Add vanilla and slowly add powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until well combined and icing becomes light and fluffy.
3. Fold in 1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans by hand.
1. Place first layer of cake upside down. Use 2/3 cup icing to cover the top.
2. Place second layer right side up and add another 2/3 cup icing to the top.
3. Place the last layer of cake right side up and use the rest of the frosting to cover the sides and top. Garnish the top with another 1/2 cup of toasted pecans.