Until a few weeks ago, I had know idea there was such a thing as hummingbird cake.
I was getting ready to go home to for my younger sister’s birthday. Of the two of us, she’s the more enthusiastic baker—she’s received not one but three marriage proposals thanks to her famous molasses cookies—but on your birthday, it’s nice to have someone bake for you. “What kind of cake would you like?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Something with fruit.”
Now, if those would-be suitors had known what they were doing, they’d have given my sister a pineapple. That’s a far surer way to her heart than compliments on her baking. Whatever this cake was going to be, it would have to involve pineapple. I put on my sleuth hat and did some investigating. I pored over cookbooks, searched blogs and recipe sites, and eventually came up with gold.
Isn’t that a name to conjure with?
Hummingbird cake is apparently a longstanding tradition in the South. It’s what happens when banana bread and carrot cake elope to Hawaii—moist, fruity layers of cake with a slight nutty crunch, punctuated by luscious cream cheese frosting. You could make a cupcake version instead, which would be a lot less work, but don’t. Spend the time and make layers. Even if you aren’t making this for your favourite sister, it’s worth it.
Adapted from Stephanie Shih’s version at Desserts for Breakfast. Which reminds me that this would make an entirely legitimate breakfast food.
- 1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C pecans, finely chopped, plus plenty of pristine halves to decorate with
- 1/2 C unsweetened shredded dried coconut
- 1 C coconut sugar or sucanat
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 4 oz. minced pineapple, plus lots of extra chunks to decorate with
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 recipe honey cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, chopped pecans, coconut, and sugar. In another bowl, mix together the egg, minced pinapple, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour half the batter into each cake pan, stick them both in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack. Cool completely before you try to frost them, otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Are they cool? Okay, you can keep going.
Put one of the cake layers on a plate and slather a coating of cream cheese on top. Cover the top with thin slices of pineapple. If you like, you can add more ground pecans as well, but my sister isn’t too crazy about nuts, so I just packed in the pineapple. Put the next layer on top, and coat the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate the top with pecans, pineapple, and birthday candles!