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Hummingbird Cake

June 3, 2011

Oh my!! Has is really been a month since my last post…terribly sorry about that. But you know, school ended, so I took a little break from anything writing or work related. Then summer school started and blogging just got lost in the midst of all those things piling up on the to do list. And plus, when the weather is this nice, who wants so sit at their computer desk while the ever-so-cunning sunshine lures you away. So now, much, much too late, I am embarrassingly yet finally getting around to telling you about the Mother’s Day cake I prepared a couple weeks ago.

Now as much as I love baking anything (cakes, cookies, pies, whatever) the funny thing is, I don’t crave that sort of stuff that much. Especially in the summer. If I want something sweet after my meal, what I really want is just some fresh fruit, or a little scoop of ice cream, or some good dark chocolate. Those other desserts are just a little too much when the weather starts warming up. However, on a beautiful, warm mother’s day at my grandparent’s house, I discovered that cake could actually be quite refreshing.

I prepared gorgeous hummingbird cake (and yes, I received confused faces anytime I told someone what it was) and was left to recite a “it’s a southern spice cake with bananas, pineapple, coconut, and pecans and a cream cheese frosting.” This was usually followed by a, “well how many hummingbirds did you have to kill to make it,” or a, “I didn’t get any hummingbirds in my piece!” Well I promise you that no hummingbirds were harmed in the process. The name actually came about because the cake is sweet like the sugar water that hummingbirds feed on. Cute, right?

The cake turned out incredible. It was super moist yet the crumb was very delicate and I actually cut back on the sugar some so the sweetness was not overwhelming and the natural fruit flavors came out more. I also switched out the classic cream cheese frosting for a less sugary alternative. Now, I believe there are two people in the world: those who like American style frosting, heavily laden with powered sugar so that is gets that funny crust on the outside that makes a slight cracking noise when you bite in, or those that like a lighter and thinner whipped frosting. I am of the latter. So instead, I paired the cake with a lightly sweetened, whipped cream, cream cheese and mascarpone frosting. Overall this made for a cake that you ate and when you were done, you didn’t have that guilty sick feeling that usually follows.  Rather, we all thought it refreshing and perfect ending to a meal.  Though Spring is quickly transitioning into Summer, this southern classic would still make a perfect seasonal treat.

Hummingbird Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake adapted from Martha Stewart
Frosting from

I followed a Martha Stewart recipe for the cake itself.  Funnily enough, this was supposed to be more like a quick bread and made by melting the butter and folding the wet with the dry. But, I guess I fail at following directions and just looked at the ingredients and proceeded as I normally would with cake, merrily creaming the butter with the sugar instead. It turned out great though and actually found the cake to still a tad dense so I’m sure that if made it the quick bread way, it would have been more so, so I suggest creaming the butter and sugar.

Cake Ingredients

3 cups flour1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. coconut extract
1¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups mashed banana
1 8oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 cup sweetened coconut

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cake pans (9 inch diameter) by placing a round of parchment on the bottom and buttering and flouring the pans.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed banana, pineapple, coconut, and pecans and set aside as well.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on high for two minutes.  Add the vanilla and coconut extract and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue beating on high until the mixture is pale and fluffy (about another 2 minutes). Add the fruit mixture and beat until just combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients while the mixer is running on low and blend well until batter is smooth, but don’t overmix.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes and then invert them onto drying rack to cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Cream Cheese and Mascarpone Frosting Ingredients 

8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1½ cups cold heavy cream 

With the paddle attachment on the mixer, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone until for about a minute on medium speed. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat on medium until smooth. Switch to the whisk attachment. On low speed, slowly add the heavy cream. Once all of the cream is added, increase the speed to high and whip until the frosting is thick and fluffy 

Assemble the cake in a standard 2-layer fashion by placing about 1/3  to ½  of the frosting between the two layers.  With the rest, use a spatula to first apply a thin coating of the frosting to the top and the sides of the cake and let it chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This is the crumb coating that seals the cake so the final outside frosting layer is smooth, clean, and free of cake crumbs. Apply the rest of the frosting to the outside of the cake and decorate with some toasted coconut and pecans.



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