If you love banana bread, you will LOVE this Hummingbird Cake too! It’s got bananas AND pineapple AND pecans!
What on earth is a Hummingbird Cake?
Despite my penchant for eating slice after slice after slice of pineapples- or perhaps because of it?- I don’t think about baking with it often enough. Luckily, there’s a really quick fix for this little problem, and it comes in the form of Hummingbird Cake!
The name is really cute isn’t it? I wasn’t familiar with Hummingbird Cake before this. After some quick research, I found out that this cake originates from Jamaica and not the US as I initially assumed. In fact, it is even named after Jamaica’s national bird, which happens to be the scissors-tail hummingbird. According to Wiki, the recipe for Hummingbird Cake was actually one among many recipes the Jamaican government sent to the US in 1968. It was part of a tourism press kit that aimed to increase interest among Americans to visit the island.
When the recipe was first published in a Southern Living magazine, it became extremely popular and is now a mainstay in American households. Thanks to the internet, the rest of the world doesn’t need to miss out on this wonderful cake!
This cake is most popular in Jamaica and the Southern US, but it’s highly probable that I’ve eaten something like this in the past here in the PH. Without knowing it had a name of its own, I probably only registered it as a banana cake with pineapple and nuts lol. Well at least now I know that a cake with the banana-pineapple-pecan combo actually has a name, and thy name is Hummingbird Cake!
A must-try for banana cake lovers
I love banana bread so I’m always making all sorts of banana bread versions, and I think for a lot of my fellow banana bread-lovers, this Hummingbird Cake will be extremely satisfying. In fact, it’s kind of like a super level up banana bread. It’s got all those banana bread qualities we love and that we’re familiar with, but with so many more goodies added in. The ingredient “trifecta” of a Hummingbird Cake is bananas, pineapple, and pecans. Typically it doesn’t have coconut, but this one does! Paired with the pineapple, the tropical-ness of this cake jumps up a notch. It’ll be difficult to even step away from the oven as this cake bakes because it smells truly amazing.
Normally, Hummingbird Cake is glazed with a cream cheese-based frosting. But I wanted to highlight more of the pineapple flavor in this cake so I made a pineapple juice-based glaze, and frankly it didn’t have that big of an effect. It gave the cake just a tiny bit of extra pineapple taste, but even if you omit it, the cake will not suffer. As a matter of fact, the cake itself is good enough that you don’t even need any frosting or glaze. Such a solid recipe from Honey, What’s Cooking!
My notes on this recipe
Prep your bundt pan properly.
This Hummingbird Cake is baked in a bundt pan for maximum visual effect. Compared to a round or square cake pan, bundt pans require extra prepping so the cake doesn’t end up stuck to the pan. Definitely take the extra effort to grease every single nook and cranny of your bundt pan, including the center tube, with butter or shortening. Use a pastry brush or a piece of parchment paper to make this step easier.
Next, scoop some flour into the pan and tilt the bundt pan as necessary to move the flour around until the entire inside of the pan, including the tube, is coated in an even but thin layer of flour. Make sure to tap out the excess flour so you don’t end up eating it with the cake! If you do this properly, your cake will literally pop right out without any problems. (Besides, the flipping part is the fun part lol.)
Do not over-mix the batter once dry ingredients are added in.
If you’ve been reading any of my recipe notes from past cake and quickbread recipes, you would’ve already seen me mentioning this over-mixing business. And it’s honestly a crucial thing for recipes like this so here we are again: In their SEPARATE bowls, you can stir the wet ingredients and dry ingredients as much as you want. HOWEVER, the moment you combine the wet and the dry into one batter mixture, you need to be more cautious with the mixing. You always want to mix just until the moment you no longer see any dry ingredients floating in the batter.
Yes, the batter will look lumpy and “rough” in a way, but it will even out once baked. Resist the urge to mix until the batter looks super smooth because too much mixing will encourage gluten formation in your cake, and that excess gluten will make your cake tough. I’m sure this is NOT what you want! That said, you also need to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients at the bottom of your batter, so scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl with your spatula as you mix.
You can top this with your frosting or glaze of choice. Or not.
When I made this, I tried a pineapple glaze that didn’t really add much to the cake, but Hummingbird Cake is traditionally paired with a cream cheese glaze/frosting. You can check out the original recipe from Honey, What’s Cooking where she pairs the cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Glaze.
If you’re not a fan of frosting, you can just omit it altogether. This cake will taste fantastic all on its own!
Coconut Hummingbird Cake
For the cake
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (224 grams) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1¾ cups (450 grams) mashed bananas, from about 5 to 6 medium bananas
- 1 227-gram can crushed pineapple, undrained
- ¾ cup (170 grams) canola oil
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125 grams) pecans, toasted (roughly chopped or whole is okay)
- ½ cup (50 grams) sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
For the glaze (optional)*
- ¼ to ½ cup (25 to 50 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 to 3 teaspoons pineapple juice
Make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan, making sure every nook and cranny is well covered with flour. Tap out excess flour.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, until well-combined. This is your dry mixture.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, bananas, pineapple, canola oil, and vanilla, until well-combined. This is your wet mixture.
- Add in half of the wet mixture into the dry mixture the blend until it starts to look wet. Add in the remaining half of the wet mixture and mix until a few streaks of flour remain. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Add in the toasted pecans and coconut, then fold into the mixture just until distributed. Again, DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, evening the surface out with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cake to cool completely before inverting. Run a knife to loosen the cake if necessary, but the cake should easily slide out if the pan was properly prepped. (I managed to unmold mine easily even after leaving the cake in the pan overnight.)
Make the glaze (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and pineapple juice until smooth. You can either add more sugar if you like a thick royal icing-like glaze, or add more juice for a thinner one.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cake, allowing it to flow down the sides of the cake. Let the glaze set a few minutes before slicing. Depending on how much glaze you like on your cake, you can double this recipe. (I wanted just a touch more of that tropical pineapple taste so I only used a small amount.) Slice and serve as desired.
Watch how it's made
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