Hummingbird Cake

I was introduced to this cake at my favourite cafe, The Black Dog.  I had it there for the first time and was extolling its virtues to the waitress who duly fetched the recipe book they used and I was straight on to my Amazon app and ordering the book.  It is from the Hummingbird Bakery, but despite the shared name, it is a widely known cake and not invented by them.  It is supposed to be a triple layer cake, but I chickened out and went for two layers as my last attempt at 3 layers looked like an homage to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  This meant the baking time was longer, but it turned out well enough!

hummingbird cake

The bananas keep it moist and it has a lovely moorish flavour.  Initially, I wouldn’t believe that there was pineapple in it (convinced it was apple) but I was proved wrong and it all works very well together.  Unfortunately, I ran out of pecans, so the decoration is a bit sparse but it is definitely a cake worth baking.  And eating.  I might try it as muffins too….

You will need:

300g caster sugar

3 eggs

300ml sunflower oil

270g peeled bananas

1tsp ground cinnamon

300g plain flour

1tsp bicarb soda

½tsp salt

¼tsp vanilla extract

100g tinned pineapple, chopped up small

100f shelled, chopped pecans

 and for the icing:

600g sifted icing sugar

100g unsalted butter

250g cream cheese


Put the sugar, eggs, bananas, oil and cinnamon into a mixer and combine well.  Add the flour, bicarb, salt and vanilla and mix again until the batter is smooth.  By hand, stir in the nuts and pineapple then split the mixture into two lined cake tins and bake at 170ºC for about 40 mins (but start checking after 30 mins).

Let the sponges cool in their tins for a few minutes then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.  I always put mine on upside down so the domed top is flattened more and it makes it easier to construct the cake.

Whilst the sponges are cooling make the icing by combining the sifted icing sugar (don’t skip the sifting – it leaves lumps in the icing.   I know from experience!) and the butter in a mixer then beating in the cream cheese and mixing for 4/5 minutes until smooth and light.

hummingbird cakeWhen cool, put one sponge on a cake stand and slot greaseproof paper under the edges.  These are removed after icing and keeps the stand clean.  Splodge about ¼ of the icing onto the sponge and spread over evenly.  Put the other sponge on top and repeat.  Use the rest of the icing to ice the sides of the cake, covering the sponge completely.  I always make a mess of this, but using a palette knife helps to spread evenly and without digging in to the cake!

Decorate the top with a dusting of cinnamon and pecan halves.  Then serve (do you like my new Emma Bridgewater comport?) with a cup of tea and enjoy!  Even my kids ate it, which is always a test of greatness – fussy little monkeys.  Just don’t count the calories….


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