Hummingbird Cake

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I faced a major pickle yesterday.

I was working on the edits of Cookie Addiction’s manuscript, taking breaks here and there to edit photos from 2 recent recipe photoshoots. I peeked at my editorial calendar to get started on writing today’s recipe and realized I had both recipes written down in today’s slot. Where’s my brain right now? It must be hiding in the 181 pages of my manuscript.

Regardless, I turned to Instagram and asked you which recipe you’d like to see first. Layer cake or sprinkle-loaded cupcakes? It was a close tie, but the majority voted for cake. We’ll have to wait until Friday to experience those cupcakes!

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

So first, let’s talk cake. A maaaaajor major delicious cake flavor that I’ve never really paid attention to until recently. You see, my dear friend had her bridal shower earlier this month. She’s from Savannah, GA and she chose hummingbird cake as their wedding cake flavor. Sure I’ve tasted it a few times in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever had traditional, stick-to-your-fork-moist hummingbird cake before. It’s her favorite and her sister even made it for the bridal shower that afternoon. I sliced off a sliver (literally the smallest sliver… what was I thinking?) and sat down to mingle with other guests as I ate my dessert.

I needed a moment of silence. In fact, I think someone asked me a question during those first few hummingbird cake moments and I blatantly ignored them. Excuse me, I’m with my cake here. Obviously 1 sliver turned into 1 sliver + 1 giant piece + weird moments of silence sitting with cake + zero guilt.

For years, I thought carrot cake was my favorite cake. Sadly, I’ve been mistaken. Tastebuds, you’re wrong. MOVE OVER CARROTS. Make room for banana + pineapple + deliciously spiced hummingbird cake. Of course we’re using cream cheese frosting and there’s toasted pecans too. Is there a better cake than hummingbird? Nope. The answer is a big fat straight-up no.

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We’re working with 2 main flavors today: banana and pineapple. Well, we also have lots of cinnamon and a dash of allspice to round things out, but the main event is all about those fruits. There’s no butter; just oil. We want a delectably moist cake– and we don’t want butter to overpower the banana and pineapple. And since we’re relying on 2 fruits for flavor, we have to make sure we’re using the correct forms of both.

  1. BANANAS – brown and spotty. The uglier your bananas, the better the flavor. Odd, but true.
  2. PINEAPPLE – crushed and canned. You may want to use fresh pineapple that you crush yourself and yes, that’s absolutely fine! But 1 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple in *most* of its juices is what I reached for in my testing. Convenient and oh my goodness… the flavor!!

I based this recipe off of Southern Living, the recipe that the bride’s sister made for the shower. (Yes, I asked her. Have I mentioned how weird I acted at that shower?) I baked the original cake first, but found there were a few things I wanted to change. First, I reduced the oil and added an extra banana in its place. I reduced the sugar because of the added banana sweetness and used brown sugar in addition to white. Left out the nutmeg and used allspice (and more of it) instead. Allspice’s flavor tastes like a mix of nutmeg + cinnamon + cloves, with a VERY slight peppery note. It’s phenomenal in hummingbird cake. I also increased the toasted pecans and used my own cream cheese frosting recipe.

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Two bowls. 1 medium, 1 large.

Wet ingredients in medium. Dry ingredients in large. ↑

Mix together.

Hummingbird cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Up close and personal with those toasted pecans. ↓

Don’t skip the toasting part. You will *NEVER* regret toasting nuts for this cake.

Toasted pecans on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Creamy and smooth cream cheese frosting recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Frosting: cream cheese. A classic made for cakes like this. I increased my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe to ensure I had enough for the 3 layer cake. And by “enough” I mean thick layers. YES to thick cream cheese frosting layers!

The cake is even better after a few hours because the flavors have had a chance to settle, mingle, and marry. For that reason, it’s a wonderful cake to make ahead of time– even the day before. Honestly, I enjoyed the cold leftover slices more than anything.

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Exceptionally moist and flavorful hummingbird cake with 3 delicious layers and silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You’ll need a moment of silence too.

PS: wondering why it’s called hummingbird cake? I found this article discussing some theories. Anyone know the real answer?!

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) Diamond of California chopped pecans1
  • 3 cups (370g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mashed banana (4 ripe bananas)
  • one 8 ounce can crushed pineapple2
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) vegetable or canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • two 8 ounce (450g) block cream cheeses, softened room temperature (16 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn oven up to 350°F (177°C), then grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Fold in 1 and 1/2 cups toasted pecans. (Save the rest for garnish.)
  4. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for 26-29 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking.
  5. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, remove cakes from pan and level the tops off so they are flat. I simply use a serrated knife. Discard the tops or eat. YUM!
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add more salt if needed.
  7. Assemble and frost: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with leftover toasted pecans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.
  8. Leftover cake is delicious covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I've gotten several questions about leaving out the pecans due to allergy. You can leave them out without replacing with anything. Stirring in 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut would be wonderful though!
  2. Slightly drain the crushed pineapple. You want a little juice, but not all of it!

Want to make cupcakes or another size cake? This recipe will make at least 32-35 cupcakes. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake 20-22 minutes or until cooked through. You can halve the recipe for less cupcakes, but things get tricky with the eggs. I recommend using 1 egg plus this: crack a 2nd egg in a separate bowl, whisk it, and use about half. This recipe also fits into a bundt pan, though the bake time will be long-- 55-65 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Too much batter for a 9x13 pan, but a 12x17 sheet pan would be perfect. About 20-25 minutes, keep a close eye to not overbake.

Adapted from Southern Living

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SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand MixerGlass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | 9-inch Cake PanIcing Spatula | Eat Dessert First Fork

In partnership with Diamond of California. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

The BEST hummingbird cake I've ever had! Exceptionally moist and flavorful with silky cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

140 comments

  1. OMG… I LOVE Hummingbird Cake!!! It’s seriously one of my favorites. I have a love for spice cakes and cream cheese frosting (my wedding cake was pumpkin with cream cheese frosting :))… I haven’t made one in a while and will have to give this a try.

  2. I was searching for a special cake to make for my boyfriend’s birthday.  This is IT!!!  All of his (and my) favourite flavours in one cake.  And your cream cheese frosting is the best!! Thanks Sally!! And so impressive looking too!  Any tips for making the frosting look so beautiful? 

  3. It’s totally understandable to act weird at a wedding shower when you’re realizing that what you thought was your favorite cake totally isn’t! It was a mini identity crisis. Plus cake distractions are a real thing 🙂 LOL. Looks beautiful and delicious, and I have yet to try hummingbird cake, so I’ll have to make this soon for my family!

  4. Sally I made this cake yesterday. It was just amazing. Seriously, one of the softest cakes you have ever created. Everyone loved it. 🙂 Thank you

  5. “The uglier your bananas, the better the flavor” In baking, truer words have never been spoken;)  I also was new to hummingbird cake recently and it is amazing.  Hands down one of the best cakes out there!  

  6. Hummingbird cake has been popping up all around me lately – must be a sign!

  7. Hi, Sally..can’t find all spice in our groceries here,pls advised what can i use instead?Thanks
    Baking this later for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow 🙂

  8. This looks great, thinking of making it for hubby’s birthday next week!

  9. hi sally I love the idea of this cake and really want to make it for mother’s day! I’d there any way to bake the cake between just 2 cake pans?

  10. can I use 3 8 inch pans instead and maybe make some cupcakes with leftover batter and if so how long do you think I’ll need to bake the cupcakes for! plan on making the cake for mothers day

    • The bake time will be longer for the smaller pans and the cupcake bake time is in the recipe notes– enjoy!

  11. Maybe it’s because I’m from the West Coast, but I’ve never even heard of a Hummingbird Cake before. Bananas and pineapple?! Oh my gosh, some of my favorite fruits ever! I can’t wait to make it this weekend! Thank you!

  12. I finally had the chance to make this recipe this week! It was amazing–my family and I have eaten it all up in just three days. 🙂

  13. I just made this for Mother’s Day and man, the flavors!!! Yum!!! But mine came our super dense. It was basically banana bread consistency. Did I go wrong somewhere or is that how this cake is supposed to taste? Either way, super delicious and I’ll definitely be making it again!! 

    • Mine turned out the same way! So dense and kind of hard to slice. Flavor was amazing and loved the icing, it just seems like it should’ve raised more and been more cakey like your pictures. Wondering if I used too much pineapple bc I got the 8 oz out of a 20 oz can and didn’t use a scale??

      • I did the same for the pineapple. Haven’t frosted it yet but the cakes didn’t seem to rise much and seem dense. I’m sure by flavor will be good but worried about the denseness.

    • Supposed to be dense like carrot cake/banana bread. 🙂

  14. Is it possible to use custard in between cake layers instead of frosting?
    Thanks 

  15. I can’t wait to try this recipe! Sally, what size of a bundt pan would you recommend? I have a 12-cup pan, but I have a feeling that this would just be too much batter for the pan that I have.
    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes! (Your pineapple upside down cake recipe is the ONLY recipe I’ll use! )

    • I’d say a 12-cup bundt is your best bet. Any leftover batter, you can make cupcakes 🙂
      I LOVE that pineapple upside-down cake recipe too!!

  16. This is baking now, and the aroma is just incredible!

    Trying it for my mom’s birthday tomorrow – I can’t wait! 🙂

    I made some cherry-almond shortbread cookies as backup, because there’s a weirdo in the group who doesn’t like bananas! Those are the best, though…

    • Haha! Both desserts should be fabulous!

      • The cherry cookies were also to pay off a debt I owed my sister from her early-April birthday, so I was able to give her a bunch and make a cute little plate to go along with the cake. I always make a double batch of those! They’re SO perfect, they’re my favorite cookie from your site. Well, that I’ve tried yet, at least…and I do love all of them!

        The cake…OMG, it was delicious! So moist, like a spice cake and banana bread and a carrotish-cake all combined, with that frosting! I did add probably an extra cup of sugar to the frosting because it was still fairly thin even after refrigerating. It didn’t seem too warm in the kitchen, but maybe the butter I added was too soft, or I had a sub-par cream cheese – I don’t know. I also need to learn how to frost better! 🙂

        Thanks for another fabulous recipe!!

  17. I live in north Carolina and there’s a renowned BBQ joint here in my town (their claim to fame is that Stephen Colbert, known NC BBQ hater, ate here and loved it.) that makes the most amazing hummingbird cake. As a transplant here in the south, I’m sad to say I grew up never having even heard of this magic dessert. So glad that’s been remedied now. I’ll have to give your recipe a try! One alteration though: I absolutely need coconut in my hummingbird cake. *drool*

  18. Hi, if I make this on a bundt pan, is it ok not to do the frosting? Thanks in advance.

  19. Can I substitute the oil in the cake with Grapeseed oil? My father’s birthday is tomorrow and I want to make this for him. He loves coconut, so can I mix coconut into the frosting that is spread in the layers but not the frosting on outside of cake? (That way it is easy to spread without getting clumps of cake crumbs, frosting, and coconut.) Then sprinkle it onto the top and sides of cake once I have spread the frosting over the whole cake?

    • You can divide up the frosting and mix coconut into some of yet, yes. Adding more coconut tot he top and sides works too. Enjoy!

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