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Hummingbird Cake

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Hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting

Berry topped hummingbird cake

taliabunting/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Hummingbird cake is a popular dessert credited in print originally to L. H. Wiggin in a 1978 copy of Southern Living but this cake has been baked long before that in different variations. The origin of this cake's name is unknown but many sources seem to think the sweetness of the cake would appeal to those quicksilver birds. It has gone on to win many awards over the years as well.

This delectable cake has been known over the years by names other than the mysterious Hummingbird cake moniker such as Jamaican cake, Granny's Cake and even the Never Ending Cake. Other variations of this recipe can include toasted almonds, more fruit and a drift of toasted coconut to complete the tropical theme. This cake is a crowd pleaser no matter what inspiration you come up with or what decorations you apply.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: A three tier cake

Ingredients:

  • Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable spray or flour and butter to prepare the pans
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil, or any mild tasting vegetable oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 3 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs, well beaten
  • Cream Cheese Icing

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, or less depending on taste
  • 2 Tbsps. milk, or more
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare three 8 inch round baking pans by either spraying them with a non-stick spray or greasing them with butter and then dusting each with flour. Tap out any excess flour and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the self-rising flour and sugar until well mixed. add the canola oil, pineapple, bananas, pecan pieces, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Spoon cake batter evenly into the three prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula or the back of your spoon.
  4. Bake cakes in preheated oven rotating pans if oven does not heat completely even, at the halfway point. Bake about 30 minutes or until the top of the cakes springs back when pressed gently with your fingertips.
  5. Remove from oven and place the pans on a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from their pans and let cool completely top sides up. When the cakes are cool wrap loosely in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until you are ready to frost. Hummingbird cakes freeze really well so you can make them in advance and place tightly wrapped in the freezer until your event. Simply thaw in the fridge, still wrapped, and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a large bowl use hand beaters to beat together the cream cheese and butter until completely combined. It is important to get out all lumps at this point because it is impossible to smooth this icing out after the sugar has been added.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat to incorporate well.
  3. Slowly sift in the icing sugar a cup at a time, scraping down the sides frequently until you have reached the desired sweetness. Usually about four cups is sufficient because the cake is quite sweet itself. If your icing is sweet enough but a little thick you can add milk a teaspoon at a time until you have the right consistency. You can also prepare the icing using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Assembly

  1. This type of cake can dome slightly while baking so you might have to level the tops using a serrated knife or commercial cake leveler. This is a three layer cake so it is important to have level layers for stability.
  2. Place the first cake layer on a cake board or plate and spread about a cup of icing on the layer, right to the edges.
  3. Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the frosted first layer and spread about a cup of icing to the edges. Top the second frosted layer with the last cake (bottom side up because it is usually a nice flat surface)
  4. Generously frost the entire cake and use the tip of a spatula or back of a spoon to create a scalloped texture all over the cake. Sprinkle the pecan pieces on the top of the cake and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve your masterpiece!

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