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. I’ve been meaning to try out a Hummingbird Cake recipe for quite some time now, and now I really need to get my rear in gear and try this one! Is it strange that the thing I’m looking forward to most is eating the leftovers the next day?

    I can already picture my husband and I having a little nighttime snack of leftover cake from the fridge. 😉

  2. I’ve seen recipes for Hummingbird Cake on Pinterest and I’ve always been curious to try it but haven’t gotten around to it. Now that you’ve posted a recipe I’m sure it won’t be long before I have my first taste of Hummingbird Cake! I just love the way you described your moment of silence with the cake at the shower =)

  3. I’ve been making this cake for years. I’ve never added pecans just an ingredient I tend not to have & I use unsweetened coconut. I will have to give your recipe a try! 

  4. Which do you recommend i try making first? Your Pineapple carrot cake or this one? I was going to try the Pineapple carrot this Sunday but now I’m not sure which to make! 

  5. This sounds very much like carrot cake, except without the carrots. Probably called a hummingbird cake because folks keep humming, “Hmmmmm. Wonder where the carrots went???”

  6. I have not had this before but if i can talk my husband into it we will be having it soon. I am not a fan of bananas raw but this sounds wonderful. And the cream cheese frosting is too die for! I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the your Cream Cheese Frosting as i had gotten the idea somewhere else? Cant say where but let me tell you if you have never tried that you have got to give it a go! OH MY GOSH:) SO TO DIE FOR! Let me say it takes cream cheese frosting to a whole new world of experience. One of those, eyes roll back in head, dont anyone look at me while i am eating this moments. Oh BABY yeah! I still have some leftover in the fridge. heehhehehe

    • Banana cupcakes or cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting has been on my to-bake list for ages. And now you’re convincing me to make that frosting ASAP!

      • Your tummy will be smiling and happy for it:) Your gonna love it!

      • Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting are an old favorite of mine. I got the recipe from Glamour magizine of all places. They were called “propose to him” cupcakes. I still giggle at the name in my head when I make them for my boyfriend.

  7. My first thought about the origin of the name “Hummingbird Cake” is that someone, perhaps in Jamaica, made a cake and set it in their window without a screen, as was fairly common in some locations in old times, which attracted hummingbirds. The first person told their friends and neighbors and more and more ladies wanted to make the cake not only because it was delicious, but also so they could also have hummingbirds come to their window. I certainly have no proof of this, but it makes sense to me.

  8. Oh Sally your recipes are the absolute best!  Carrot cake is my fav, but since you said this is even better I have to give it a try now!  I’m sure you are tired of some of these questions but would this work as a Bundt cake or in a 9x 13 or larger pan?  Also, any hints if your bananas are not real ripe?  I’ve heard about microwaving or baking?  Thanks my friend!  

  9. Yes!!! I am so excited about trying this recipe out. Been waiting for you to do a hummingbird cake recipe, cause they are my absolute fave. I’ll let ya know how I go 😉

  10. I’ve been making a loaf version of banana pineapple cake for years but I love your brown sugar and allspice twist on things. I’ll have to try that for my next batch as my current batch of bananas are just about right.

  11. I have never tried hummingbird cake but I love carrot cake with pineapple, so I’m pretty sure that means I have to try this cake!

  12. I’m saving this cake to make soon because it looks amazing! The flavors are so unique and it sounds great!

  13. Oh my gosh Sally! You have finally made my favourite cake of all time! I use a very similar recipe…the only thing in my recipe is that there’s no pecans…instead, toasted desiccated coconut on top and 1/2 cup of un-toasted inside. But I love the idea of replacing canola oil with coconut oil! Yum! I think this is the best cake on the planet by far! It truly does stick to your fork! Great job Sally!! Having 2 recipes for today…baby brain has already begun!

  14. Is there any way to make this cake survive a 5 hour road trip from Houston to Dallas??

  15. Thinking of this as a sheet cake… Do you think the amount would be appropriate for a 12×17 pan?

  16. Perfect timing! My husband asked for a spiced cake for his birthday! I’ll be making this next week and will let you know how it turns out! 

    I only have two cake pans, so I’ll have to pick up a third. Thanks for the recipe! 

  17. Looks delicious! Loved your story about how enthralled you were with the cake at the bridal shower :). I think it’s great that you lightened the recipe a little bit. I bet walnuts would work too!

  18. I have always wondered what the heck Hummingbird Cake is. Now I know, and I now I am dying to have some! Seriously, I’ve been thinking about it ALL DAY.

  19. HEY HEY HEY….. I brought this up last year or the year before and it took you eating some to finally do a recipe for it… that’s ok. As long as you finally made it I am happy. I told you it was the best thing ever. I wish I even knew what recipe I commented on, or if it was an email I sent. It was too too long ago. But anyhoo, thank you so much for doing your version of this cake.

  20. We love this cake but it’s just too big for y hubby and me. Can I just cut the ingredients in half to make a smaller one or are there any other adjustments to make? Thanks.

  21. What would you suggest for baking temp and time if I wanted to make this in 11×17 half-sheet pans?

  22. I also make this in a sheet cake, perfect for events! An all time favorite!

  23. I love hummingbird cake.  I’ve made it in a bunt pan before and then after its cooled used the leftover pineapple juice mixed with powdered sugar to drizzle over as a pineapple glaze. So yummy!!!

    • That sounds incredible! I’d love to try that with this hummingbird cake as a bundt cake sometime.

      • I can’t take credit for the recipe.  I got it from the cookbook: Desserts, Americas Best Community Recipes by Better Homes and Gardens, 1996 ed.  My sisters and I learned the love of baking from this book.   After seeing your post for Hummingbird cake, I got on eBay and bought copies of the cookbook for my sisters and I because I no longer had the recipe/book.  I can’t wait to try out your version of Hummingbird cake. It’s sounds divine.

  24. Your carrot cake recipe is my favorite (and the favorite of my friends, they ask for it all the time!), so I definitely cannot wait to try this one out!!! Just waiting for those bananas to ripen 🙂

  25. I keep over-ripe bananas in the freezer just for these type recipes…can’t WAIT to try it!! Sooo YUMMY! I’ve got your pins on my board under- Sally’s Baking Addiction- stop and take a look! LOVE your recipes! Gotta go…make your Humming Bird Cake! Oh btw, do you think your reposted Caramel Frosting would work?! Love to you always

  26. So pretty, those layers are everything! (And so is that cream cheese frosting – be still my heart!)

  27. How many cups of batter does this make?

  28. Hummingbird cake is one of my very favorite cakes! I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  29. I wish I knew the weight measurement for bananas. Would be so much easier to weigh them instead of smooshing them into cups!

  30. Carrot cake is my favorite too, specifically your recipe. Now I HAVE to make this cake to compare!

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