Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Hummingbird Cake

You’ll also love my banana cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting!

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 one 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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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Try my pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting next!

The best carrot cake recipe is this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Moist, spiced, and so easy! Easter dessert on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

186 comments

  1. Can this cake be made ahead a time and frozen? Then defrosted and frosted?

    Thanks

  2. Is this a no sift flour recipe?

  3. Is it ok to use 3 bananas heat ahead of time in the oven. I only have 3 bananas as my hubby ate one. I should have hid them. I need to make the cake this morning and they are just ripe. 

  4. Hi Sally, I’ve made the original Southern Living recipe numerous times over the last 35 years, so am anxious to try your version. I do have a question: what is the reason you let the cake layers cool completely in the pans rather than removing them after 10-15 minutes out of the oven? Thanks for your help. Your website is one of my favorites.

    • I have no real rhyme or reason but that’s how I always cool my cakes, but I have found that cakes don’t stick as much when you let them completely cool inside the pan. That is, of course, if you use enough cooking spray or butter to grease the pans!

  5. Made this today. It was a BIG hit at party. VERY easy. 

    I used the 9″  parchment rounds with lift tabs instead of buttering and flouring pans. (The rounds are available on Amazon.) All three layers came out perfectly – about five minutes after coming out of oven. 

    I used pineapple juice with just a bit of leftover crushed pineapple in the icing. No milk at all. 

    People LOVED it.  One person asked if she could hire me to bake one. (I’d be surprised if she actually does, but still ….)

  6. This cake was in a word AMAZING! My kids could barely wait 3 hours to eat it. It was great last night but this morning was absolute HEAVEN! I definitely recommend waiting overnight to eat this…the flavors are all settled and mixed and just out of this world! Sally thank you again! Your the best! Hope your enjoying your day and little angel so far!

  7. My son as always wants a Hummingbird Cake for his birthday. This year I decided to try this version and it was the best I’ve ever made! The only change was to leave out pecans (he doesn’t like them in his cake) and add 1 cup of coconut as recommended. I used only a wire whip by hand to mix the ingredients to make sure I didn’t over beat. It made 3 beautiful layers and the icing was divine. 8 inch pans worked fine, as that was all I had. Everyone raved over this cake! Thank you for sharing this recipe on your blog.

    • I’m so happy to read this! I love it with coconut and glad you do too 🙂 Hope your son had a very happy birthday!

  8. Oh my GOODNESS! Yet another successful recipe by you! I’ve made this and followed the recipe exactly except that I used nutmeg instead of all spice as that’s what I had. I must say…this cake is like a party in my mouth!! With explosion of flavors & different textures, it’s incredible!! I love it w generous cream cheese frosting although mine turned out a bit runny.

  9. I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful recipe. I made this cake and followed the recipe exactly for my son’s 40th birthday and it turned out beautiful. Everyone loved it!

  10. I happen to have some fresh pineapple at home! Does this work and how much should I use?

  11. Sally- I LOVE your recipes.  You’ve become my go to for baking!  I’m curious, in your Favorite Carrot Cake recipe, your cream cheese frosting uses heavy cream, in your brown butter cream cheese frosting you do not use any cream, in this recipe, you use milk.  Can you help me with the nuances?  I made the carrot cake recipe and the cream I felt made the frosting have an amazing texture.  I want to try the brown butter version but am hesitant to leave out the cream… Thoughts?

    • Hi Maria! Adding liquid to cream cheese frosting will thin it out (slightly). Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don’t. The taste of the frosting is the same, it just depends if you want a slightly thinner consistency. You can use milk or cream 🙂

  12. I made this cake for Easter this year.  Yum!  It was a huge hit.  I actually made and frosted it the day before and refrigerated it — worked great and was very moist

  13. I made the  hummingbird cake for Easter this year. In your summary it said 18 oz of pineapple with most of the juice but in the recipe it said 8 oz of pineapple. I followed the recipe and the cake was dense and heavy. My guess is I should have followed the summary. I will try the  hummingbird cake recipe again.

  14. I made the cake two days ago, the cake was very nice but I found the cream cheese frosting excessively sweet and had comments about it.   I even cut back to 3 from your 5 cups.  The original recipe asks for 2 cups but honestly,  I have made a similar frosting with 3/4 cup and that was sufficient.  I would suggest starting at 3/4 cup and if its not at your liking, slowly add in 1/2 cup at a time and tasting.  The banana and pineapple cake is sweet enough.  It was a nice moist cake which dairy free friends can eat without frosting.

  15. Hi I was just wondering what the size of the 3 cake pans are that we’re suppose to use with this recipe. 

  16. Hi Sally! Just finished off your new German chocolate. Loved it!! Think I can do your browned butter cream cheese frosting with this hummingbird cake? Or would that be too rich? 

    Thank you! 

  17. Can i bake this in a silicone pan? Thats the only kind of baking pan i have.

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