Nothing ho-hum about it: Hummingbird Cake recipe
Since the Hummingbird Cake recipe originally ran in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine, it has become the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history. Originally submitted by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, NC, it is famous for winning numerous blue ribbons at county fairs and acting as a dessert staple on the table of traditional potluck dinners across the South. Since this recipe boasts one of the few non-Italian flavor combinations my grandmother made regularly when I was a kid (and likely, when my mom and uncle were kids), I have to believe that any woman in the know who enjoyed baking in the 1970s knew how to make a Hummingbird Cake or one of its offshoots. It was, perhaps, a breath of fresh air from carrot cake’s dominance of the era.
This recipe is simple and fairly foolproof for those who are intimidated by the thought of baking a multi-layer cake. Think banana bread in three pans instead of one, plus frosting. Its straightforward ingredients and easy-to-assemble steps make it a great bet for novices, but its flavorful taste has earned it a spot in the rotation of many experienced bakers nonetheless. This cake’s aroma alone evokes one of a quintessential Southern dessert profile: banana, pineapple, cinnamon, and pecan, with cream cheese frosting for good measure. Savor the decadent layers as you stick your fork through this hearty cake and relish its undeniably pleasant sweetness. Here’s the recipe as I make it.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living magazine.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups bananas, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup chopped pecans
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup of pecans, and bananas. Batter will be a bit thick and chunky from the bananas and pecans.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and return to racks to cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting
16 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; frost using smooth sides of cake (bottom sides) as tops for best results. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator until shortly before serving.
Happy cake baking!