on May 25, 2022, Updated Feb 19, 2024
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There is so much that I love about the South-from the charming homes, unmatched hospitality and last but not least, the southern cuisine. Hummingbird Cake is a beautiful Southern classic that is moist, dense and full of flavor.
If you haven’t heard of hummingbird cake before you are in for a delicious treat. It is a cake made with mashed banana, crushed pineapple, pecans and topped with a rich cream cheese frosting. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t devour it!
Who came up with this fun, tropical tasting cake? The hummingbird cake originated from Jamaica where it was called the “Doctor Bird” cake. The doctor bird is a nickname for Jamaica’s national bird which is the red-billed streamertail hummingbird. It is rumored that this cake is sweet enough to attract hummingbirds and I would have to agree.
In 1978 the hummingbird cake was submitted to Southern Living by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina. It went viral in the 70s and for good reason! It stands to be the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history. The people love this cake. It makes a great dessert for summer gatherings, backyard parties, or Sunday dinner dessert.
What does hummingbird cake taste like?
This delightful cake is a cross between the taste of banana bread and carrot cake. The pineapple taste is subtle but it totally makes the cake in my opinion. It is perfectly spiced and oh so moist. The cream cheese frosting and pecans are the icing on the cake-literally!
What bananas work best in hummingbird cake?
I prefer to use overripe bananas (the ones that have brown spots on them sitting on your counter) for this cake. This will create a flavor that is unmatched!
How can I tell when a cake is done baking?
You can always used the famous trick of inserting-a-toothpick-to-the-center-of-the-cake technique. If the toothpick comes out clean it is properly baked. With a cake I often use the bounce back test as well. Carefully press a finger down on the cake. If the cake bounces back, it is done. However, if the finger left a dent then it needs a bit more time.
How long does hummingbird cake last?
Since this cake has fruit and cream cheese frosting it is best preserved in the refrigerator. It will last for up to a week in the fridge. It is also a great cake to make ahead a day or 2 because the flavors marry together in the most delicious manner.
More cake recipes
If you’ve tried my Hummingbird Cake recipe or any other recipe on Bless this Mess, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some pictures of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories AND add your photo to your comment so that other can see your creation.
For the Cake
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups melted butter,, salted or unsalted
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup crushed pineapple,, undrained
- 4 medium ripe bananas,, well mashed
- ⅔ cups finely chopped pecans
- dehydrated pineapple flowers
- banana chips
- candied pecans
- For the Frosting
- 2 blocks cream cheese, (8 ounce each, 16 ounces total)
- ½ cup salted butter
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅓ cup crushed pineapple
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease 4, 6-inch cake pans with baking spray (this works so well, you can also grease and flour them very well), set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, butter, vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and pecans. Mix together until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans and place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or when you lightly press on the cake, it springs back. If touching it leaves an indent, bake it a few minutes longer.
- Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing it carefully from the pan. I like to place a cooling rack on top of my slightly cooled cake and then flip it over with the cooling rack on top (so that the rack is now on the bottom), then remove the pan and allow the cake to continue to cool on the rack.
- While the cake is cooking, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add powder sugar and mix until smooth.
- Add vanilla and mix.
- Remove one cup of frosting and place it in a separate bowl, add the crushed pineapple to the reserved frosting and stir to combine well.
- To Assemble:
- When the cake is completely cook, place on layer in the center of your plate or cake stand.
- Pipe thick line of frosting around the edge of the first layer.
- Fill inside the piped line with 1/3 of the pineapple frosting mixture and spread it out evenly.
- Top with next layer and repeat until all of the layers are used.
- Once assembled frost cake with thin layer of frosting, it’s ok if it has a rustic look to it. This is considered a “naked cake” which means the icing is on the thin side and it’s ok to see the imperfections and a bit of cake through the frosting. It’s a very pretty look.
- Use the extra frosting to pipe swirls on the top of the cake.
- Decorate with dehydrated pineapple flowers, banana chips and candied pecans. Use the photos in the blog post for inspiration.
- You can also use 3, 9-inch baking pans for this recipe, they’ll need to cook for about 30 minutes.
- You can make your own dried pineapple flowers removing the outside of a pineapple and then slicing it 1/4 inch thick (don’t remove the core). Place in the oven and dehydrate on the lowest setting until the pineapple feels like leather or jerky. You can also buy them at Trader Joe’s.
Please don’t wait any longer to try the Southern classic that is the Hummingbird Cake. This cake is not only a showstopper but the combination of flavors is quite honestly; heavenly.