Hummingbird cake is a super moist and flavorful cake made with oil instead of butter, ripe bananas, bite size pineapple chunks, and crunchy nuts. The recipe originated from Jamaica as the “Doctor bird cake” when the Jamaican tourist board sent press kits with recipe cards of local favorites to the U.S. to attract tourists. Since then many Southerns have baked their own versions for country fairs and events and submitted their tweaked recipe under names such as the “Cake that doesn’t last” to be in cookbooks.
When Southern Living printed Mrs L H Wiggin’s recipe in 1978 with cream cheese icing and pecans in 3 layers instead of a bundt cake style and called it a Hummingbird Cake, the cake became a Southern Classic. Since the Doctor bird is a nickname for a Jamaican variety of hummingbird called the Red-billed Streamertail, it is not that much of a stretch and a Hummingbird Cake sounds more appealing than Doctor cake. The Hummingbird Cake has been the most requested recipe in Southern Living’s history and there are many different versions including a lower fat option. My father chose the one with less oil and half the amount of frosting for his unpublished cookbook.
I have tweaked it to make it eggless for my son. It is definitely one of our favorite cakes especially during the winter when Caribbean pineapples are in season from December to February. Hawaiian pineapples are best in April and May. We use fresh pineapple but you can use canned if you wish. Canned pineapples became popular in baking during the Great Depression and it has stuck for years due to the ease of use.
To make the cake eggless, substitute 1 banana for 1 egg and 100g of applesauce for the other 2 eggs. You will not taste the apples and your guests will never know it is eggless. The cake freezes beautifully if you want to bake it ahead of time. Wrap it well with plastic to avoid the moisture crystals. I place mine in a plastic dome in the freezer to let the cream cheese frosting set up before I wrap it tightly in plastic. Then slice a piece when you are craving something sweet to avoid eating the whole cake in 2 or 3 days.
I recommend using 1 cup of nuts instead of 1/2 cup in the icing to balance the protein with the sugar. Press the chopped nuts into the iced sides of the cake for a beautiful presentation. Toast them in a skillet or your oven for a richer nut flavor. If you do not want to ice the side of the cake and go with a more whimsical look for the spring or summer, only ice between the layers and top the cake with pecan pieces and delicate flowers like Jamie Oliver.
1) Combine the Dry Ingredients- Sift together 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour, 2 cups (400 grams) granulated cane sugar, 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon Margarita Himalayan Pink salt, 1 teaspoon (3 grams) ground cinnamon. Set aside.
2) Combine the Wet Ingredients- Peel the fresh pineapple and chop into bite size pieces. Measure about 8 ounces (227 grams) of pineapple. Set 7 ounces in a bowl and set aside. Place the 1 ounce of pineapple in a blender to create some juice along with 4 very ripe bananas (1 1/2 cups) and puree. Note-This provides more consistent pineapple and banana flavors in the cake. If using canned pineapple, then skip this step and mash the bananas well. In the bowl with the pineapple chunks, add the banana and pineapple puree, 100 grams applesauce (1- 4 oz container of applesauce), 3/4 cup (180 ml) of coconut, walnut, or organic canola oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, and 1 cup (100 grams) pecans. Mix together.
3) Combine- Add half the amount of dry ingredients to the wet and mix. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until all the flour is absorbed and incorporated. Do not beat the batter which will form more gluten making it tough.
4) Bake- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place round parchment paper pieces in the bottom of the 3 different 9 inch cake pans. Butter the parchment and the sides. Do not skip this step or the cakes may stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter equally into the 3 cake pans and place in the oven. Turn down the temperature to 325 degrees if using convection. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle.
5) Make the Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting- Whip together 1/2 cup (105 grams) butter and 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, both at room temperature and 1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract. Slowly add 1 pound box (450 grams or about 4 cups) of sifted powdered confectioners sugar to get the right consistency. It should be thick but easy spread on the cake.
6) Ice the cake- Spread icing between all the layers and over the top and sides. Press 1 cup (100 grams) of finely chopped pecans on the sides of the cake. Add some whole pecans to the top of you wish. You may also toast the pecans beforehand to enrich the flavor of the nuts. Enjoy!
THE ULTIMATE COOKBOOK RECIPE
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
3 bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add the eggs and oil and stir until well mixed; do not beat. Add the vanilla, undrained pineapple, bananas and pecans and mix well. Pour into three (9-inch) cake pans sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the layers test done. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans to wire racks to cool completely. Spread Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting between the layers and over the top and side of the cake. Yield: 16 servings
Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (1 pound) package confectioner sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Combine the butter and cream cheese in a medium mixer bowl and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the confectioner sugar gradually, beating until smooth and creamy. Add the pecans and stir until well mixed.
Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/HummingbirdCake.html#ixzz3L5TvRjY8