Hummingbird Cake: a classic southern recipe made with pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and nuts, all topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting!
*This post originally published on February 28, 2014. I thought it was about time the pics and recipe were updated. So, the photos you see here now are new and improved! I’ve also improved the recipe and added more answers to some frequently asked questions. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this hummingbird cake as much as my family and I do.*
It’s good Friday! Can you believe it??
I’m so happy it’s finally spring. After this weekend I can break out the white jeans. Holla!
And I know I’ve been harping on you about what you should make for Easter this year, but I am going to make yet another suggestion. This recipe would be perfect because:
- It looks so pretty! Aren’t those dried pineapple flowers gorgeous?
- Even though it’s spring, the seasonal fruit isn’t really making much of an appearance yet. So tropical is a great way to go!
- The flavors here are so on point. Sweet banana is at the forefront, then you get the warm cinnamon and the pineapple. With tangy cream cheese frosting and crunchy pecans, it’s just a total home run.
And honestly this cake would be welcome at any time of year. It’s a true classic and there is really no occasion that wouldn’t be made more special with this stunner of a hummingbird cake on the menu.
WHAT IS HUMMINGBIRD CAKE?
It’s a simple layer cake, flavored with banana, pineapple, and cinnamon, filled and frosted with a tangy cream cheese icing, and garnished with pecans.
The cake is ridiculously moist and tropical-tasting, and the combination of flavors is just out of this world. My whole house smelled incredible while this cake was baking! You’ve gotta give it a try!
HOW TO MAKE HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
Just like with so many of my cakes, this recipe uses the reverse creaming method.
Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Flour, sugar, leavening, cinnamon, and salt just get stirred together.
Work in the soft butter until the mixture resembles damp sand.
Then, mix in the eggs. It’s important that the eggs go in one at a time, to avoid a lumpy batter. Allow the first one to become completely incorporated, before adding in the next.
Now it’s time to add the liquid ingredients. Puree the bananas until they’re really smooth. I like to use my mini chopper for this.
You are also going to want to drain your pineapple really well! It’s best to put in in a strainer and really squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.
Add the pureed banana and drained, crushed pineapple to the cake batter, along with a little sour cream and a splash of vanilla extract.
Mix this batter for about a minute, then transfer it to greased, parchment-lined cake pans and bake!
CAN HUMMINGBIRD CAKE BE MADE IN DIFFERENT SIZED PANS?
To me, a tall, triple layer cake is just such a statement, so I baked this cake in 3 6-inch round pans.
But it could also be made in 2 8- or 9-inch diameter pans, or in a rectangular 9×13-inch pan. Just keep an eye on the bake times. Larger, thinner cakes could need more or less time in the oven, depending. You’ll know your cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.
WHAT KIND OF FILLING OR FROSTING TO PUT ON HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
Traditionally, hummingbird cake is made with cream cheese frosting. It’s so good! It compliments the fruit and spices in such a perfect way.
Try this recipe for no-fail, fluffy as can be cream cheese frosting that’s stiff enough to pipe: Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s what I used in the pictures you see here!
If you’re looking for another option, try this one: Magical Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s basically a hybrid of traditional cream cheese frosting and ermine frosting, sometimes known as boiled milk frosting or flour frosting. It’s super-smooth and silky, and perfect for making ahead.
HOW TO DECORATE HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
Once the cake is filled and frosted, you can give it a simple but stunning decoration.
Press finely chopped pecans into the sides of the cake. I chose to only go a little less than halfway up, but you can do it however you like!
Then, just place a few dried pineapple flowers on top, for garnish.
To make dried pineapple flowers, peel a fresh pineapple, and cut it crosswise into very thin rounds (the thinner the better!). Place them on a wire rack, and dry them in the oven. (At 170 degrees F, this will probably take around 3 to 4 hours.) Once they are dry but still warm, they should be pliable enough to shape. Press them gently into a small cup to form the blossom shape, and allow to cool completely.
HOW LONG DOES HUMMINGBIRD CAKE LAST?
This cake will keep at room temperature for at least a day or two.
In the fridge, it will stay good for a week to 10 days. Just press a piece of plastic wrap into the cut side of the cake, so it doesn’t dry out.
The unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen. They’ll last in the freezer for a couple of months.
CAN HUMMINGBIRD CAKE BE MADE AHEAD?
You can definitely make this dessert ahead- in fact I would recommend it!
The layers can be baked the day before you plan to assemble the cake. Allow them to cool to room temperature, then wrap them tightly in plastic and refrigerate them overnight.
I also like to fill and frost the cake ahead, and give it some time in the fridge to chill before slicing in. In my experience, the results are always so much better when you allow layer cakes to chill for a while before serving. They’re easier to frost, and they slice so much more cleanly this way.
Hope you have a fantastic holiday weekend, and I really hope this hummingbird cake is a part of that! Let me know if you have a chance to bake it up; I want to hear all about it!
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For the hummingbird cake layers:
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g) cake flour
- 3/4 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter,, softened
- 1 1/2 (2) large bananas, , ripe
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) crushed pineapple, , drained & squeezed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) sour cream
- 2 eggs,, large
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
To make the hummingbird cake layers:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, mist 3 6-inch diameter cake pans with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the softened butter, and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute).
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. (Allow each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next one.)
- Puree the banana, and add to the bowl, along with the pineapple, sour cream, and vanilla.
- Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.
- Divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared pans, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool completely, fill & frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with chopped pecans and pineapple flowers.*