Maybe the rest of the world already knows what hummingbird cake is. Personally, I’d never heard of it until a couple of years ago when my in-laws mentioned that it was what Justin’s younger sister wanted for her birthday. If you don’t know, this is a deep-south-meets-Jamaica kind of dessert full of nuts, pineapple, and bananas with a delicious cream cheese frosting on top.
Since I found out that my in-laws were coming to visit this weekend, I decided I’d try the dessert myself. It turned out beautifully, three layers tall and full of moist hummingbird goodness. And since it is so moist, this is a great make-ahead recipe. You could store it in your fridge for a day or two with no need to worry about it drying out.
I’ve written my version of the recipe below but if you feel so inclined, I’m sure it would work well with the addition of coconut or raisins. You can also substitute pecans for the walnuts if that’s what you prefer.
For the cake:
- 3 cups cake flour*
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup crushed pineapple
- 4 large ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup chopped roasted California walnuts, plus extra for garnish
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the cake:
*1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose flour, minus 2 tablespoons
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray 3 round cake pans with cooking spray.
In a bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
In another large mixing bowl, add sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Mix on high until well combined and light and fluffy. Add vegetable oil and vanilla extract and mix again.
Add crushed pineapple and mashed bananas, and mix again. Stir in the chopped roasted walnuts by hand.
Add dry ingredients to the wet ones, stirring until just mixed.
Divide batter equally between the 3 pans. Tap each pan lightly against the counter top to remove any air bubbles. Place in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
When cool enough to handle, remove the cakes from their pans and allow them to finish cooling completely before adding frosting.
For the frosting:
When cakes are completely cool, make frosting. In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addiction until completely incorporated and fluffy.
Apply a thick layer of frosting between cake layers and a thin crumb coat on the outer surface. Refrigerate for an hour or more. When the crumb coat has hardened, apply the rest of the frosting so that the cake is completely covered and there are no bald spots. Garnish with roasted walnuts.
Refrigerate for another hour so the frosting will set, then the cake is ready to serve!