hummingbird cake with cream cheese icing

when it comes to southern desserts, red velvet cake and chess pie are popular choices.  let’s not forget banana pudding, it is always on that list too.  and it wasn’t until i moved to nashville that i even heard of a hummingbird cake.  since learning to make one, i must say, it is one of my favorite cakes.  
when describing a hummingbird cake to someone unfamiliar with it, i always compare it to a carrot cake.  the two cakes have an oil base with lots of raw produce and nuts in them.  a carrot cake is a blend of raw carrots, pineapple, shredded coconut and walnuts while a hummingbird cake is a combination of bananas and pineapple with pecans.  both cakes have a generous amount of cinnamon in the batter and they are both decorated with cream cheese frosting.  but honestly, they don’t taste anything alike except that they are both mouth watering good!
since i was taking this cake to a pot luck dinner, i decided to make it easier on everyone; i baked it in a tube pan rather than the traditional 3 round cake pans.  the result was a huge cake that fed our large group easily.  
so here are a few hints.  do grease and flour the pan-you will be sorry otherwise!  the bananas should be ripe but not mushy.  the perfect state of ripeness; a few black freckles and an obvious banana scent before you actually open the skin.  ripe pineapple will give the best flavor but you can use a small 8 ounce can of crushed in a pinch, just realize it will not add the same amount of flavor as the fresh.  whether you use fresh or canned pineapple, make sure you add the juice too-don’t drain it or the cake will be on the dry side.
hummingbird party cake
serves 16 or more
2 cups pecan pieces
2-3 bananas, ripe
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, about 1/2 pound
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup canola oil 
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 recipe of cream chess frosting
preheat the oven to 350.  grease a large tube pan and dust it with flour.  place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  measure out 1 cup for the cake batter and reserve the rest for the garnish.
place the bananas and pineapple into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the fruit is chopped to the size of peas.  pour into to a mixing bowl.  add the 1 cup of pecans, brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and salt.  whisk until blended.  place the flour, baking soda and cinnamon into a sifter and sift over the batter in the bowl.  fold this all together and pour it into the prepared pan.  
bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  allow the cake to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before taking it out of the pan.  to remove the cake, place a cooling rack over the top of the cake and invert.  set the rack down and remove the cake pan carefully.  allow it to cool completely before frosting.
cream cheese frosting
4 ounces of regular cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar, sift after measuring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted pecans (from the cake recipe-not additional)
cream the cheese with the sugar and vanilla.  spread it over the sides and top of the cake using a spoon to create swirls.  sprinkle the nuts over the top of the cake.  can be refrigerated but let it come to room temp before serving.

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