Hummingbird Cake: a classic southern recipe made with pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and nuts, all topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting!

A slice of hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and a dried pineapple flower on a white plate.

*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!

I’ve been meaning to share this hummingbird cake recipe for a while. I started developing it way back in February! It took a lot of tries but I finally got it perfect.

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:

  1. It looks so pretty! Aren’t those dried pineapple flowers gorgeous?
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Classic hummingbird cake on a marble cake pedestal, decorated with pineapple flowers.

WHAT IS HUMMINGBIRD CAKE?

Hummingbird cake is a southern tradition. Like so many other delicious baked goods (think biscuits, peach cobbler, corn bread, pecan pie…) this recipe got its start down south.

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.

Overhead image of ingredients for making hummingbird cake.

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.

Dry ingredients and butter for hummingbird cake.

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.

Fresh bananas in a mini chopper.

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.

Pureed Bananas in a mini chopper.

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.

Wire mesh strainer with crushed pineapple in it.

Add the pureed banana and drained, crushed pineapple to the cake batter, along with a little sour cream and a splash of vanilla extract.

Mixing bowl with hummingbird cake batter, bananas, pineapple, and sour cream.

Mix this batter for about a minute, then transfer it to greased, parchment-lined cake pans and bake!

Three cake pans with hummingbird cake batter.

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.

Or if you are anti-cream cheese, you could also try my favorite, Swiss meringue buttercream, or this easy American-style buttercream.

Close-up of southern hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting, pecans, and pineapple flowers.

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.

A vertical slice of hummingbird cake, with another slice in the background that is laid on its side.

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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Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

Mystery Dish couldn’t have come at a better time.

Sorry for my absence, you guys.  Sorry for my absence from Baking a Moment.  Sorry for my absence from Facebook.  Sorry for my absence from Twitter.  Sorry for my absence from Google Plus, and most of all, sorry for my absence from all my bloggy friends’ comment sections.

I have no real good excuse other than just a general blue funk caused by things that should not really put one in a blue funk.  I knew it all along, as it was happening, that these things should not get me down, that I have too much to be thankful for, and fun projects to occupy myself with, and wallowing can never be a good thing, but sometimes I think we just need to let these things run their course.

February is a tough month.  I mean, once all the flush of Valentine’s day is all over, there’s not much else to look forward to, other than Spring.  And that’s not happening as soon as we’d like, I’m sure.  Still lots of snow on the ground, and more to come.  Thankfully, there were a few bright and sunny days over the last week, and I for one think soaking up some sunshine is the best remedy for that gloomy late February state of mind.

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

If you haven’t been lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of the Spring weather that is to come, this cake is the next best thing.  Just when we’re all sick to death of looking at the same four walls, while dreary skies and dirty slush unwittingly worm their way into our peripheral consciousness, along comes the sunniest, fluffiest, most tropical treat anyone could ever imagine.

Have you ever heard of hummingbird cake before?  I only recently became familiar with it myself.  Evidently it’s a classic southern recipe.  It’s unclear how it got it’s name, but the one thing I knew for sure, when I saw this month’s ingredients list, was that it was exactly what I needed at that moment.

  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Pork
  • Spinach
  • Cream Cheese
  • Pineapple
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Tortillas

That pineapple and cream cheese have hummingbird cake written all over them, am I right?  And while traditionally it’s made with pecans, macadamia nuts make a fun substitution…

A little banana adds to the tropical flavor of this cake, and cinnamon speaks to that cozy feeling we’re all still so into at this time of year.

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

The cake is made in one bowl, with no fancy or complicated method.  Just dump and stir!  It doesn’t get much simpler.

I often keep fresh pineapple in our fruit basket during the winter months, since there are so few other fruit options that are locally grown and seasonal.  So, although the original recipe calls for canned pineapple, I just tossed a few cubes of fresh into my mini chopper, along with a splash of orange juice to keep things running smoothly.

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

I used the same chopper for my nuts and banana too.  Don’t bother washing it out in between- it all ends up in the same place!

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

This recipe is for a smaller cake (2 six-inch layers), but if you’d like something larger, to feed a crowd, it doubles easily.  That will get you 2 eight-inch layers, or, a 9×13-inch sheet cake, or, about 2 dozen cupcakes, which would be totally adorable 😉

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

If you’d like some tips on decorating your cake in this way, I’m giving a quick rundown, along with affiliate links to products I use and recommend, within the recipe card below.

Now before I share the fabulous recipe, please take a moment to look at all the mouthwatering treats my Mystery Dish friends whipped up:

February Mystery Dish | Baking a Moment

2. Hummingbird Cake by Baking a Moment
3. Three-Cheese Spinach Squares by The Well Floured Kitchen
4. Easy Pesto Pita Bread Pizzas by Yummy Healthy Easy
5. Minty Pea Prosciutto Toast by Chez CateyLou
6. Pina Colada Cheesecake by Blahnik Baker
9. Tropical Green Smoothie by The Dessert Chronicles
11. Pineapple Drop Cookies by I Dig Pinterest

How ’bout it???

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

[simple-recipe]

Hummingbird Cake | Baking a Moment

Now get to making your hummingbird cake!  You’re going to love this happy, happy treat!  It’s so perfect at this gloomy time of year; I just know it will brighten your day!  It certainly did that for me!

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Hummingbird Cake
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Hummingbird Cake: A classic southern recipe made with pineapple, banana, cinnamon, and nuts, all topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting!

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Classic Hummingbird Cake, Hummingbird Cake, Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Southern Hummingbird Cake
Servings: 10
Calories: 290 kcal
Ingredients
For the hummingbird cake layers:
For the decoration:
Instructions
To make the hummingbird cake layers:
  1. 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.  

  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

  3. Add the softened butter, and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 1 minute). 

  4. 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.)

  5. Puree the banana, and add to the bowl, along with the pineapple, sour cream, and vanilla. 

  6. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.

  7. 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. 

  8. Cool completely, fill & frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with chopped pecans and pineapple flowers.*

Recipe Notes

*To make pineapple flowers, peel and thinly slice rounds of fresh pineapple and place them on a wire cooling rack. Dry in a 170 degrees F oven for 3 to 4 hours, then place in a small cup to shape.

A few more great layer cake recipes:

Nutrition Facts
Hummingbird Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 290 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 58mg19%
Sodium 214mg9%
Potassium 171mg5%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 365IU7%
Vitamin C 12.4mg15%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 0.6mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.