Hummingbird Cake Recipe

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Hummingbird Cake Recipe



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Hummingbird cake, a delight that hails from the Southern United States, is a delectable dessert that’s perfect for any occasion. This cake stands out with its unique combination of flavors and textures, thanks to the bananas, pineapple, and pecans mixed into the batter and the rich cream cheese frosting that adorns its layers. The origin of the hummingbird cake is somewhat of a mystery, with some attributing its creation to the Jamaica Tourist Board in the late 1960s as a way to attract tourists. However, its popularity in the United States is often credited to Southern Living magazine, which published the recipe in 1978. Since then, it has become a beloved treat across the country, especially in the South.



3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans for decoration


Prepare the Cake Batter:

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

Add the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.

Bake the Cake:

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

Add the vanilla, then gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. Stir in the pecans last if you prefer them in the frosting or reserve them for decoration.

Assemble the Cake:

Place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread a layer of frosting over the top.

Add the second cake layer and spread another layer of frosting.

Top with the final cake layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

If desired, press the additional chopped pecans onto the sides of the cake or sprinkle them over the top for decoration.

Tips and Variations:

For a lighter cake, you can substitute half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce.

If you prefer a crunchier texture, toast the pecans before adding them to the batter and frosting.

For a festive touch, garnish the cake with edible flowers or a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Hummingbird cake is more than just a dessert; it’s a celebration of flavors that brings joy and sweetness to any gathering. Its moist, fruity, and nutty layers, coupled with the tangy cream cheese frosting, make it a standout dessert that’s both comforting and luxurious. Whether for a special occasion or a simple family dinner, hummingbird cake promises to delight and impress.

Enjoying a slice of hummingbird cake is like taking a bite of Southern hospitality itself. Its moist crumb, rich flavors, and history of communal sharing make it a testament to the tradition of coming together over good food. When you make a hummingbird cake, you’re not just preparing a dessert; you’re crafting an experience that invites warmth, conversation, and a touch of sweetness into the moment.

Serving and Preservation Tips:

Serving: Hummingbird cake is best served at room temperature. If you’ve refrigerated the cake, let it sit out for about an hour before serving to ensure that the frosting softens and the flavors meld beautifully.

Storage: Keep the cake covered in the refrigerator. Thanks to its moist ingredients, it keeps well for up to five days, making it a great make-ahead dessert for gatherings.

Freezing: Both the unfrosted cake layers and the finished cake freeze well. Wrap the cake layers or the entire frosted cake in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and, if necessary, let it reach room temperature before serving.

Cultural Significance:

The hummingbird cake not only stands as a symbol of Southern baking traditions but also reflects the cultural exchange and adaptability of recipes. From its possible Caribbean origins to its Southern American transformation, the cake embodies the idea that good food knows no boundaries. It’s a reminder of how recipes evolve and become embraced by different communities, acquiring new meanings and significance along the way.

A Cake for All Seasons:

While the hummingbird cake is particularly popular during the spring and summer months, thanks to its fruity notes, it’s equally fitting for autumn and winter gatherings, offering a taste of sunshine during the cooler months. It’s versatile enough to be a hit at weddings, birthdays, holidays, and potlucks alike.

The Joy of Baking Together:

Making a hummingbird cake can be a delightful way to spend time with loved ones. Baking from scratch offers the chance to engage with every ingredient, from mashing the bananas to chopping the pecans, and it invites participation from family members of all ages. The act of baking, assembling, and decorating the cake together adds an extra layer of personal touch and meaning to the dessert.

In essence, the hummingbird cake is more than just a sum of its ingredients. It’s a celebration of community, a tribute to the joy of baking, and a beloved tradition that continues to bring people together. So, the next time you’re looking to bake something special, consider the hummingbird cake—a dessert that promises not just sweetness, but also stories, shared experiences, and the comfort of home.


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