Hummingbird Cake – a no fuss favorite with tropical flavors of pineapple, banana and pecans making it the perfect summer bake. A new layer cake recipe by our contributor, Tessa Huff.
At the height of summer, nobody wants to turn their oven on. But if you must, let’s make a vow that it will be for a good reason. A tasty reason. If your kitchen is anything like mine, then you know that when the oven is on, it heats up to 10-degrees warmer than the rest of the house. You also know that the cross-breeze from the window above the sink bypasses the kitchen and only cools those sitting at breakfast bar across from where I bake. No? Just me?
Regardless, summer calls for more rustic, simple yet classic cakes and pastries. Who wants to spend time whipping egg whites while the sea breeze and beach life are calling your name? Likewise, who wants to fuss with creaming butter and sugar when the butter most likely softens beyond room temperature in the summer heat? Enter the Hummingbird Cake. A classic, no-frills cake that is packed with flavor bombs and slathered in everyone’s favorite cream cheese frosting. Hummingbird cake is a spice cake typically made with banana, pineapple, and pecans – like a carrot cake that went on a tropical vacation!
This is one of those cakes that you just want to grab a fork and dive straight into. Each bite is extremely moist and lightly spiced. The flavor and texture are similar to banana bread crossed with a carrot cake, but minus the carrots. I like to give the tangy cream cheese frosting both a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as well as a pinch of cinnamon, but feel free to choose either or both. I bet a splash of dark rum would actually be pretty tasty, too.
Since we are working with cream cheese, I kept the design simple. Cream cheese frosting can be softer than, say, a meringue-based buttercream, so I didn’t want to fuss with it too much, especially during the summer. The buttery yellow and sherbet orange remind me of a summer sunset. The colors blend together beautifully by creating short strokes around the cake with a small offset spatula. To finish, a ring of white sugar peals is sprinkled around the top edge.
Hummingbird Cake – a no fuss favorite with tropical flavors of pineapple, banana and pecans making it the perfect summer bake.
- Skill Level: ✽ ✽ ✽
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 5 to 5 ½ cups confections’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, as needed
For the Assembly:
Make the Hummingbird Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or hand mixer), beat together the oil and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two batches.
- Add in the bananas, pineapple, and pecans. Mix on low until they being to combine with the batter. Stop the mixer and fold by hand until everything is evenly distributed.
- Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to rest on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Cool completely before assembling.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Using an electric mixer (hand or stand), beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the remaining ingredients, and mix on low until combined.
- Turn the mixer up to medium and let the frosting whip until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add more sugar or milk until desired consistency is achieved.
Assemble the Cake:
- Place one layer of cake onto serving plate or cake stand and top with about one cup of cream cheese frosting. Repeat with second cake layer, more frosting and then last layer of cake.
- If desired, tint remaining frosting a summery yellow and light orange. Frost the cake using both colors. Blend together by creating short strokes around the cake with a small offset spatula.
- Sprinkle a ring of white sugar pearls around the top edge, if desired.
- Store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
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