Springtime is oh so sweet!
It is so gorgeous today! While my husband and boys are outside hunting for freshly laid chicken eggs, I'm inside waiting for one of my favorite cakes, a Hummingbird, to finish baking in the oven. Not many have heard of a Hummingbird cake and what a shame, because it's pure bliss. The cake originated in the southern United States. It's a layered banana pineapple cake with pecans and a hint of cinnamon, topped with cream cheese frosting. Sound amazing? It is.
What I love most about this cake is that I don't feel as guilty feeding it to my children. It's filled with hearty goodness, with an abundant mix of fruit and protein. It's comforting knowing there's some nutrition underneath all the cream cheese frosting. Which brings me to the next thing I love most, the cream cheese frosting. It is delectable. The banana and pineapple in the cake layers could be considered overly sweet on its own. Not by me, of course, but by others who don't have my severe sugar addiction. The cake does contain 5 bananas and over a cup of crushed pineapple, so the tangy cream cheese frosting provides the perfect balance of flavors.
I had the pleasure of mixing this cake by hand as my mixer broke the night before. I haven't mixed a cake by hand since I was a kid. Surprisingly, my arm strength and wooden spoon did the trick beautifully. It even added a rustic element, leaving large chunks of banana in tact. A mixer is faster and easier, but I'll continue to make this cake the old fashioned way.
The cake layers rise gorgeously, turning a warm toasty brown. The texture is heavy, full of pecans and banana, yet still fluffy. I add an extra layer to make the cake more dramatic, plus it's a reason to add more frosting.
The aroma of this cake fills your entire house. Bananas, warm toasty pecans, and cinnamon. It embodies southern charm. I guarantee it will become a favorite for spring. Or for those who crave something other than chocolate.
The minute this cake was on the stand my kids were surrounding it like sharks. I choose to not frost the sides, as I love the contrast of the white frosting and honey colored cakes. Pile the frosting on thick, because why not? I decorated mine with fresh flowers, toasted pecans and candied coated chocolate eggs, to make an spring splash. I can't wait to dive in. It's a great day for a sugar rush!
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar (if at high altitude decrease by 2-3 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (if at high altitude decrease by 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature (if at high altitude add 1 egg)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups smashed very ripe bananas (from about 4-5 bananas)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
12 ounces of crushed pineapple with juice (1 1/2 8 oz cans)
Preheat oven to 350°F (if at high altitude 375°F)
Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.
Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk in oil, eggs, and vanilla.
Stir in bananas, pecans, and pineapple.
Divide batter equally between prepared pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cool the cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the cake sides and turn out onto rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans for decorating
fresh flowers (optional)
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in large bowl to blend.
Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
Place one cake layer on a plate. Spread a heaping layer of frosting over the top.
Top with second cake layer. Spread a heaping layer of frosting over top.
Top with the final cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top.
Decorate to your taste with toasted pecans and fresh flowers.
*Baker’s Note: This cake can be made one day ahead. Cover; chill. Let stand at room temperature. If at high altitude see my post on high altitude baking for precise adjustments.