In my recent years of being educated into Southern culture, there are a few things I’ve learned to be true. I’ve learned that you will be called “Ma’am,” no matter how old you are. I’ve found that iced tea does not come unsweetened; chicken is best served fried. Finally, moreso than football, camouflage, or pickup trucks, Southerners are really serious about their family recipes.
During my first year of living in Selma, Alabama, I discovered a number of foods for the first time. Skillet cornbread, fried pork chops, and chocolate chess pie were all foods that I barely knew existed and had definitely had never tried. Of all the bites I tasted during those early months in the deep South, one treat that stands out head and shoulders above all others in my mind is hummingbird layer cake, a cinnamon, pecan, and coconut flavored cake kept moist with the addition of bananas, crushed pineapple, and a sweet cream cheese frosting. While the combination of those ingredients seemed kinda odd to me, I nevertheless tried the cake and immediately fell in love.
Northerners, I’ll be honest- you’re missing out if you’ve never tried hummingbird cake. In true Southern form, this cake is heavy, rich, and moist, but the bright fruity flavors combined with the warm scent of cinnamon keeps you coming back for more and more. It’s a comforting recipe that somehow tastes like home, and I am beyond ecstatic to share the recipe for this delightful cake with you today!
This recipe for hummingbird cake comes from a darling Southern book written by my friend Katie Jacobs. “So Much To Celebrate” is an entertaining how-to filled with recipes, party ideas, and more. Katie, a Nashville native, put her keen eye for style, color, and Southern flair to use in this book that is equally beautiful as it is inspiring. While a number of recipes caught my eye, it was the hummingbird layer cake that stole my heart.
To make this hummingbird layer cake, we start by mixing the wet ingredients with the sugar until light and fluffy. Next, several mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, pecans, and coconut are added, followed by the dry ingredients and a healthy spoon of cinnamon. The cake gets baked in four separate pans until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
The frosting for this hummingbird layer cake is ultra-rich but perfectly sweet. Butter and cream cheese are creamed together before powdered sugar and vanilla are whipped in. In true cream cheese frosting fashion, this icing is fairly loose, so to achieve clean edges, I refrigerated the cake throughout the icing process and tried not to fuss with it too much. As a garnish, I trimmed some fresh blooms, a sweet and feminine topping worthy of a Katie Jacobs cake. I think she would approve.
This hummingbird layer cake is out of this world, a delightful treat to enjoy all year round. If you’re looking for a gift idea for a lady in your life, check out her book at this link here! Katie represents Southern baking well, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Happy baking!
If you like this hummingbird layer cake you should check out:
Hummingbird Layer Cake
This hummingbird cake is a Southern specialty from Katie Jacobs’ new book. Moist layers of cake made with cinnamon, banana, and crushed pineapple are filled with pecans and coconut, and the frosting is a rich and fluffy cream cheese icing.
- Prep Time: 35
- Cook Time: 35
- Total Time: 90
- Yield: 12 1x
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
- 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
For the frosting:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1–1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
- 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour four 8-inch round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat oil, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mix together banana, pineapple, pecans, and coconut. Add to egg mixture; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; blend well.
- Divide batter between pans. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.
- Transfer pans to a wire rack. Once cooled, invert cakes onto racks; reinvert, top side up. Cool completely. While cake is cooling, make frosting.
For the frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately to frost and layer the cake.
- This frosting is rich and fairly loose. To help keep your cake edges clean, refrigerate the cake throughout the icing process to help it set up.