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A southern classic, Hummingbird Cake delights all who taste it. Chock full of sweet tropical fruit and a cream cheese frosting pressed with toasted pecans, you’ll be migrating back to this perfect cake on a regular basis!
Table of Contents
- How did Hummingbird Cake get its name?
- Should I make a Hummingbird Cake or a carrot cake?
- Is this the 1978 Southern Living recipe for Hummingbird Cake?
- How ripe should the bananas be for Hummingbird Cake?
- What can I add to Hummingbird Cake if there isn’t enough banana?
- What can be used instead of allspice in Hummingbird Cake?
- What kind of oil can be used in Hummingbird Cake?
- What nuts can you use to make Hummingbird Cake?
- Can coconut be added to hummingbird cake?
- Hummingbird Cake Recipe
How did Hummingbird Cake get its name?
It’s been said that this cake is sweet enough to attract hummingbirds, but since the recipe hails from Jamaica, it was likely named after Jamaica’s national bird, the hummingbird.
Should I make a Hummingbird Cake or a carrot cake?
Make both! But if you can’t live without banana and pineapple, definitely make this Hummingbird Cake.
Is this the 1978 Southern Living recipe for Hummingbird Cake?
This recipe draws inspiration from the original, but it lightens the cake up considerably for the modern palate without sacrificing flavor.
How ripe should the bananas be for Hummingbird Cake?
The bananas should be very ripe with dark brown skins and soft flesh. If your bananas are still green or yellow, it’s very easy to ripen bananas in the oven.
What can I add to Hummingbird Cake if there isn’t enough banana?
If you don’t have quite enough banana, use applesauce, chopped apple, or pumpkin purée.
What can be used instead of allspice in Hummingbird Cake?
In place of allspice, feel free to use a pinch of nutmeg and a little extra cinnamon.
What kind of oil can be used in Hummingbird Cake?
You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or even very light olive oil for this recipe. You can also use melted butter in place of oil, in the same proportions.
What nuts can you use to make Hummingbird Cake?
Feel free to try toasted walnuts, chopped macadamia nuts, or cashews. Just watch each carefully, as toasting times may vary for different nuts.
Can coconut be added to hummingbird cake?
Shredded coconut can be added to the cake batter, or toasted coconut can be pressed against the frosting as a beautiful finishing touch.
For the Hummingbird Cake:
- 2 cups pecans chopped
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups bananas mashed (about 4)
- 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple slightly drained
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil canola, or coconut oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To toast the pecans:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
To make the Hummingbird Cake:
- Increase oven heat to 350 degrees, then grease and lightly flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, pineapple, eggs, oil, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 batches, stirring to combine after each addition. Fold in 1 ½ cups toasted pecans (reserve the remaining for garnish).
- Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for 26-29 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking.
- Remove cakes from the oven and set on wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, remove cakes from pans and use a serrated knife to level the tops so they are flat.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
To assemble and frost the cake:
- Place 1 cake layer on cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting.
- Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with leftover toasted pecans.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing (or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut).
- Leftover cake is delicious covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make-ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.
- How to Make Hummingbird Cake Cupcakes: For cupcakes, we’d recommend baking for 14 to 18 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean). Then let them cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The recipe should make about 24 cupcakes.
- Using a bundt pan: We have never done this in our kitchen, but a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan should be fine for this recipe. You will likely need to increase the baking time by about 30% in the 10-cup pan, somewhat less in the 12-cup.
- Using a 9-inch by 13-inch pan rectangular pan: simple! Add all the batter to the rectangular pan and bake. The bake time should be similar.
- Pecans: may be omitted or substituted with 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut.
- Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.