Hummingbird Cake is a dense and moist southern cake flavored with bananas, pineapple, and cinnamon and covered in a rich cream cheese frosting topped with toasted pecans.
What Is Hummingbird Cake?
The first Hummingbird Cake recipe was published in Southern Living magazine in 1978 after being submitted by a reader from Greensboro, North Carolina. It became the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history. It’s a classic southern cake that’s perfect for a special occasion like Easter, Mother’s Day, a Graduation or Thanksgiving.
Typically dense and moist and very rich and sweet, this cake is a great dessert for parties and get togethers. It will fill you up in a hurry and should be cut in small slices. It is known to induce tummy aches if eaten in too large a quantity.
What Flavor Does It Have?
Hummingbird Cake almost tastes like banana bread and carrot cake had a baby together. The banana flavor overshadows the pineapple, but the pineapple no doubt helps create a moist cake and the little pieces of pineapple help give Hummingbird Cake its unique texture.
Does Hummingbird Cake Have Coconut?
Occasionally, Hummingbird Cakes will have coconut in them, probably because coconut is such a natural fit with banana and pineapple. The mashed banana, crushed pineapple, and Vegetable oil keep the cake very moist and the pecans provide some crunch and texture contrast.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The technique for making the cream cheese frosting is from America’s Test Kitchen and I love it. Instead of starting the frosting by beating together softened butter and softened cream cheese, you beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together and then add 1-ounce pieces of CHILLED cream cheese. The end result is a thicker, firmer cream cheese frosting that holds its form better when you spread it between the cake layers, making the cake much easier to frost.
Plus it just seems to taste better right from the get go because the cold cream cheese chills the frosting some. I’ve never found room temperature cream cheese frosting to taste very good.
You would think that the cream cheese would have trouble blending in evenly with the rest of the ingredients, but it magically and instantly gets completely absorbed into the frosting. You will have a hard time not sticking your finger in for a taste or two.
- Use a very ripe banana. A very ripe one will add more flavor and moisture to the cake.
- You can use walnuts instead of pecans or leave the nuts out altogether.
How Long Does This Cake Last?
Since there is cream cheese in the frosting, it should be stored in the refrigerator. You can let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two before serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days. Be sure to wrap it weel in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. It also freezes really well.
- Electric Stand Mixer– I like to use a stand mixer for mixing together cake batters.
- 3 9-inch cake pans– I really love these Wilton cake pans.
Next special occasion, bake up a Hummingbird Cake. Each bite will surely make you and your guests hum with delight 🙂
More Southern Cakes
- Bananas Foster Cake
- Banana Pudding Cake
- Classic Coca Cola Cake
- Classic Southern Pound Cake
- Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake
- Mississippi Mud Cake
More Hummingbird Recipes
Watch the short video below to see how to make Hummingbird Cake.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cups very ripe banana, mashed
- 2 cups toasted chopped pecans, divided
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1-ounce pieces and chilled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice.
- Add vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
- Stir in banana, 1 cup pecans, and pineapple just until evenly mixed.
- Divide batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. Place in oven and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- To make frosting, use and electric mixer to beat together butter and powdered sugar, adding powdered sugar gradually. Add vanilla extract and salt and mix until smooth.
- With mixer on medium, add 1 piece of cream cheese at a time. Turn mixer off once all cream cheese has been incorporated.
- Spread frosting between layers of cake and cover top and sides. Sprinkle remaining chopped pecans on top.
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Originally published April 5, 2014.
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