It is finally spring, and we are ready for it over here. And with it comes the time of year for one of my very favorites, the most ultimate Hummingbird cake with coconut topped with a cream cheese frosting. It is one of my all-time favorite cakes and sure to be one of your favorites too.
What is Hummingbird cake?
An old fashioned Hummingbird cake recipe is is full of banana, pineapple, nuts and cinnamon. A quick google search tells you will find that the cake likely originated in Jamaica in the 1960s (the ingredients would suggest this is true). The Jamaican tourist board, trying attracting tourists, sent out press packets that included recipes, including this cake.
Is hummingbird cake a southern thing?
It sure is, now. After the recipe initially making it's way to the U.S. via the Jamaican press packets, versions of it started showing up in local papers throughout the South. The first printed recipe in the U.S. was in Southern Living in the late 70s. Google also informs us that the cake is named for the hummingbird because it is sweet enough to attract one - how cute.
Why this cake is different from old fashioned versions
The small addition that, I think, elevates this cake is coconut. Also coconut is a total compliment to the pineapple and the banana. In fact so much so, that when I managed a bake shop this was our for our Hummingbird cake.
Like all of my cake recipes (pretty much) this is an oil-based cake. There is more fruit than flour in this cake, and let me tell you, that is not a bad thing. This cake is super moist. Also the crushed pineapple gets added with all of its glorious juices and super ripe bananas make for a moist, nicely sweet cake. Here is everything you need for the cake itself:
- Baking soda
- Crushed pineapple with it's juices
- Very ripe, very soft bananas
- Unsweetened shredded coconut. this is now available in most supermarkets (all of them near me), but also amazon
- Finely chopped pecans (or use walnuts if you prefer)
- Sour cream
Tips for success
- Toast the pecans. I promise you that you will not regret it. Extra tip...you should always be toasting your nuts when baking with them, it makes a bigger difference than you think.
- Add some cinnamon. Hummingbird cake is really like a great banana bread turned into a cake, and it needs some spice. Cinnamon is warm and just mellow enough to be the perfect compliment.
- Use unsweetened coconut. This cake is sweet enough, and the addition of coconut is to taste the coconut, not add extra sugar. I use large flaked unsweetened toasted coconut to garnish this cake too.
- Don't leave out the sour cream. This takes the place of milk or buttermilk in a traditional cake recipe.
The cream cheese frosting
Oh the frosting! A cream cheese frosting is traditional and best for hummingbird cake - This recipe is a lighter version of cream cheese frosting, whipped heavy cream folded into the frosting, making it lighter and oh so amazing.
Honestly, I don't know why this isn't the traditional frosting for pretty much every cake ever.
To me, this cake screams spring, and would be a great to your Easter dessert table or your Mother's Day dessert. Similar to carrot cake, which is often considered the quintessential spring cake, but dare I say...even better!
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- Stand mixer
For the cake
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 3-4 very ripe bananas mashed
- 1 cup crushed pineapple undrained
- 1 cup pecans or wlanuts
- ¾ unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 2 tablespoon oil
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 3 eggs
For the frosting
- ½ cup butter one stick
- 8 oz package of cream cheese 8 ounces to be exact
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans. YOu can use two 9-or 10-inch if you like and if you prefer a two layer instead of a three layer cake.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.
- In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, pineapple, coconut, pecans and sour cream. Stir together to combine.
- Beat oil, sugar and eggs with a stand mixer (or hand mixer) with a paddle attachment for six minutes until fully incorporated and very light and fluffy. Add the wet ingredients to the oil and egg mixture and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
- Divide batter as evenly as you can between the three pans. Bake for about 40 minutes. The toothpick test works best for determining doneness. Let cool in pans for about five minutes and then remove from pans and cool completely on a cooling rack.
- To make the frosting, with a stand mixer (or a hand mixer), using the whisk attachment, beat the cream until medium peaks firm and it has becomes whipped cream. Spoon the whipped cream out into a separate bowl and set aside. In the same bowl you beat the whipped cream, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about six minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on LOW SPEED (or you will have a powdered sugar snowstorm in your kitchen), and whip the powdered sugar in. Once combined, turn mixer to high again and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and the vanilla and eat to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until filly incorporated. Don't be rough with it, you want to keep all that air in the frosting to keep it light.
- Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate and cover the top of the cake with a big scoop of the frosting and spread evenly. Top with another cake layer and repeat with the frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer and frost the cake top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Like these flavors? Check out my best banana bread ever!
Best cake ever in my opinion. It’s so pretty and equally delicious!
Debbie Beck says
I love this cake and Jimmy does too!
Jane E McAndrew says
I saw one recipe where they took a pineapple and cut thin slices and put them in the oven and made flowers to put over the Hummingbird Cake it was lovely
They put frosting first then the flowers. Please send me this recipe. Thank you in advance. Janie McAndrew
Beth Banfield says
My go-to spring cake recipe, have made it many times. Love the addition of coconut and the frosting is a dream! Will be making again today!