Hummingbird Cake

For Easter dessert, I was planning on making something called Angel Pie, a family recipe that is simply a meringue, topped with lemon curd and freshly whipped cream. Perfect and simple and oh-so-spring. But not so perfect when the forecast calls for humidity. Meringue and moisture do not mix; it is a very bad idea. And so, the hunt for a new dessert was on. I landed on this one pretty quickly.

I first read about his cake last week, but since then, I’ve seen it no less than 4 times. Why do things work like that? Why can you hear of something new, or something you havent thought of since you were french-rolling your jeans, and suddenly it’s everywhere? Regardless, I was glad this one was in my face, because it’s right up my alley.

Carrot cake is my favorite cake…this is not a carrot cake. It is, however, reminiscent of one. It has pineapple, which all my favorite carrot cakes contain. It has cream cheese icing, which makes my knees weak. It has nuts; pecans here, rather than the more carrot cake-traditional walnuts. But here, instead of the orange beauties, it substitutes my favorite, or at least most consumed, fruit: bananas. I was in. Banana bread? In. Banana cake, draped in sweet, tangy cream cheese and accompanied by sour, sweet pineapple? In. Yesterday.

Plus the name….Hummingbird Cake? How adorable is that?

I’ll tell you this: I accidentally set my oven 100 DEGREES too high, and this cake was still a delicious piece of indulgence. Granted, I tend to hover and watch my baked goods like a hawk, and therefore pulled it’s lucky derrier out about 20 minutes earlier than expected, but any cake that can withstand that kind of screw-up deserves some recognition. This cake was my kind of heaven; moist and flavorful, tangy from the cream cheese, fragrant from the bananas and cinnamon. The kind of cake which must be instantly dragged into the presence of coworkers and out of my self-control-lacking maw. I love it when things with cute names are just as cute in reality as they are in my head.

Hummingbird Cake
Adapted from Saveur.

I used Saigon cinnamon in this cake, which was a wee bit too intense. If you’re using regular cinnamon, stick with the allotted amount, but if you’re using something stronger, I’d cut back by a half teaspoon. As always with banana desserts, make sure those babies are nice and black before they go in.

3 c. flour
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c chopped pecans
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1  8-oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
2 c mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
1 c canola oil
2 t vanilla

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
3, 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 c chopped pecans

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 3, 9″ round cake pans, line with parchment, and grease again
  • In a large bowl, beat the two sugars and eggs on high until smooth
  • Add the pineapple, banana, oil and vanilla and mix on medium until smooth
  • In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and pecans
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined
  • Divide the batter between the three pans and bake ~50 min, or until a tester comes out clean
  • Cool the cakes completely and remove the parchments

While the cakes bake, make the frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until well blended
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on low until combined
  • Beat on medium for an additional 2-3 minutes until fluffy
  • Mix in the pecans with a spatula
  • Stack the cakes using 2/3 cup frosting between each layer
  • Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the cake; you’ll have plenty

2 thoughts on “Hummingbird Cake

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