I have always been fascinated by the name Hummingbird Cake. It apparently gets its name from a colourful hummingbird found in the Caribbean and Southern America. The bright yellow of the pineapple and bananas remind one of the bird’s yellow feathers.
Not quite the true Hummingbird…..
The main ingredients
I researched several recipes and as usual, created a ‘Robyn’ version. It actually started off with my usual carrot cake recipe, which has always been a firm favourite, that has canned pineapple crush, but I liked the idea of adding bananas, giving it moisture, and I do like banana bread too!
Pecans are a favourite in this cake, but you can also use walnuts. I found a giant bag of pecans at my local baking shop at an excellent price, hence the generous proportion in this recipe, but it can easily be halved for a more economical recipe. Lightly toasting the pecans before you add them to the cake brings out the flavour and they are extra crisp.
This cake has now been declared, Robyn’s best cake! It may well become my ‘warm climate’ Christmas Cake in the future.
Let the kids mix it, it’s easy and flop proof!
Most cake recipes require very gentle handling, but this one is quite a dense cake and is basically made using a very simple batter method where you place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then you mix all the moist bits in another and pour them into a ‘well’ in the dry mix and blend the whole lot together.
You will see I give 2 pan size options.
3 X 20cm cake pans or 2 X 23cm cake pans.
I know that this may sound rather ‘old fashioned’, but the only value I see in the contemporary tall cakes is that they look pretty dramatic. They are notoriously difficult to slice. To serve a 20cm tall cake slice you really need to use dinner plates! And the slices are so huge, the sheer volume is off putting! (some may disagree!)
I prefer making one 2 layered cake or even 2 large flatter cakes with plenty of frosting in proportion to cake, after all it is the cream cheese frosting that that makes this cake so delicious! I still split these flatter cakes to sandwich some of that delicious frosting between the layers. But if you wish, you can make less frosting and only coat the top. Or stack both layers with 3 layers of filling!
If there are left overs, they keep well!
This is also a recipe that is best made 24 hours before you intend to serve it and it keeps for up to 5 days. It is best refrigerated and taken to room temperature about 30 minutes serving.
Not quite a health food…. but almost there!
If your kids are not eating their veggies, this is where you sneak them in. You can use a mix of grated carrot, courgette and beetroot to make up the 500ml volume. Beetroot will give it a rich red colour.
Many recipes call for a greater proportion of oil and sugar, but I find that the sweetness of the banana and pineapple syrup allowed me to reduce the sugar.
For the frosting
Don’t be tempted to use fat free or low fat cream cheese, it will be watery and you will need to add more icing sugar to achieve the correct consistency.
The butter must be at room temperature to blend well and smoothly with the cheese.
Finally, make sure that the cake is cold before frosting otherwise it melts into the cake resulting in a soggy mess.
Use fresh herbs to decorate the cake. Basil flowers and rosemary springs add a lovely flavour to the frosting!
Recipes: Carrot, pineapple & banana cake