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Hummingbird Cake is a delightful dessert that originates from the Southern United States, featuring a sweet, fruity, and moist cake base studded with ripe bananas, crushed pineapples, and crunchy pecans. Topped with a creamy and tangy cream cheese frosting, this cake is often garnished with additional pecans for extra crunch.
This cake is named after the hummingbird, the state bird of Jamaica, likely due to its sweet flavor which is said to be irresistible to these tiny creatures, much like the sweet nectar of a flower. It was traditionally made for special occasions and has remained a beloved classic due to its moist texture and unique combination of flavors.
Today, the Hummingbird Cake is a favorite at Southern gatherings and is cherished by cake lovers around the world.
- Mixer: For mixing the cake batter and frosting.
- Two 9-inch round cake pans: For baking the cake layers.
- Parchment paper: To line the cake pans and ensure easy removal.
- Cooling rack: For cooling the cake layers before frosting.
- Offset spatula or butter knife: For applying and smoothing the frosting.
- Chopping board and knife: For chopping the pecans.
For the Cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 lbs powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole or chopped pecans
Cake Batter Preparation:
- Start by peeling and mashing your ripe bananas in a bowl until you have the required amount.
- Then, drain your canned pineapple, making sure to squeeze out as much juice as possible. Too much moisture could make your cake soggy. You can save the juice for another use or drink it!
- In a separate large bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix them well.
- In another bowl, beat together your wet ingredients: eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, mashed bananas, and drained pineapple. Mix until everything is well incorporated.
- Gradually add your dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stirring after each addition. Do this until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Lastly, fold in the chopped pecans into the batter until evenly distributed.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter into your prepared pans.
- Baking the Hummingbird Cake is an easy and rewarding process. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) and then lightly grease and flour your cake pans. You can also line the bottoms with parchment paper for easier removal after baking.
- Pour the batter evenly into the three prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Place the pans in the preheated oven, spacing them evenly for optimal heat circulation. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- It's essential to check for doneness correctly. The old trick of sticking a toothpick in the center works well – if it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it, the cake is done. However, if there's wet batter on the toothpick, it needs more time. In this case, continue baking and check again every 5 minutes to prevent overbaking.
- Soften your cream cheese and butter, but make sure they're not melted. They should be at room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until creamy and well combined.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Add in the vanilla extract and continue to beat the mixture until it's smooth and creamy.
Assembly and Frosting:
- Once the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. This rest period makes it easier to remove the cakes without breaking them. After 10 minutes, gently run a knife around the edges of the pans, then invert each pan onto a wire rack and lift off the pan. Allow the cakes to cool completely on the wire racks before frosting.
- To assemble the cake, start with one layer on your serving plate. Spread a thick layer of cream cheese frosting over the top. Add the second layer, press it down lightly, and frost it the same way. Repeat with the third layer, and then spread frosting around the sides of the cake to finish it off.
- Frosting should be smooth and even, but if you're going for a more rustic look, it's okay to leave some swirls and peaks in the frosting. Decorate the top with additional chopped pecans if you wish.
Remember, the key to a great Hummingbird Cake is patience. Letting the cake layers cool before frosting ensures that the frosting won't melt and run off the cake. Take your time and enjoy the process!
When it comes to serving your homemade Hummingbird Cake, you’ll want to do it justice. Ensure your knife is sharp – a dull knife might drag and tear the cake. To get clean slices, try dipping your knife in hot water and wiping it dry before each cut. Serve the cake at room temperature for the best flavor.
As for leftovers, they should be promptly refrigerated due to the cream cheese frosting. Be sure to cover the cake with either plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. If you have a cake carrier or dome, that would be even better!
- Q: Can I make this cake in advance?
A: Absolutely! You can prepare the cake layers a day or two in advance, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator. Frost the cake on the day you plan to serve it.
- Q: Can I freeze Hummingbird Cake?
A: Yes, this cake freezes well. Be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Q: What can I substitute for pecans?
A: Walnuts would make a good substitute if you don’t have pecans on hand or if you prefer their flavor.
There’s something undeniably enchanting about the Hummingbird Cake. It’s a celebration of tropical flavors packed into a classic Southern dessert. The unique blend of bananas, pineapples, and pecans in a beautifully frosted cake is sure to win hearts at any gathering. We hope you’re inspired to try making this cake at home.
For those with a sweet tooth, explore our website further to discover more delightful cake recipes. Happy baking!