Eating a slice of Hummingbird Cake is like falling in love. It’s sweet and intoxicating, and after you’ve spent a little time together, you start counting down the minutes until you can see it again. Seriously. Like, OK, I had a slice after lunch. Can I have another for dessert? No, that’s too much. Maybe? Like, just a bite? OK, a bite now and one later. Oh, wait, it’s got all the food groups! I’ll just eat the cake for dinner! Yeah, it’s that good.
And I did have cake for dinner.
It was my birthday.
Southerners have been making versions of this cake for decades, calling it different names, like Nothing Left Cake, Cake That Won’t (or Doesn’t) Last, Granny’s Best Cake and Jamaican Cake. The name “Hummingbird Cake” probably comes from the cake’s roots as a Jamaican banana cake; the swallow-tail hummingbird is the national bird of Jamaica. So, you could think of this cake as the love child of Jamaica (with its mashed bananas and pineapple) and the American South (with its pecans and cream cheese frosting).
Not only is Hummingbird Cake delicious beyond belief, it’s exceptionally easy to make, with a batter that requires just one bowl and a little stirring and a cream cheese frosting that comes together quickly in the mixer. It also requires very little decoration. Once you assemble the cake, you can sprinkle the pecans on top (or press them into the sides), and add a fresh flower to keep things simple and beautiful.
Since Hummingbird Cake stays moist and fresh for days, it’s a perfect cake to make ahead and share with people you love. Or, hide it in the back of the fridge, lie about stray dogs knocking you down and eating it, and keep all of that goodness to yourself. I’m not here to judge you.
Adapted from a recipe by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins (originally printed in “Southern Living,” Feb. 1978)
Yield: 1 9-inch triple-layer cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 2 cups chopped pecans, divided
- 2 chopped bananas
- Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans, or spray them with a nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add eggs, oil and vanilla; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
- Stir in pineapple, 1 cup chopped pecans and bananas.
- Spoon batter into prepared cake pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool immediately. When the cakes are completely cooled, spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.