Hummingbird Cake is a real crowd pleaser. In fact, it’s the most requested recipe in the history of Southern Living Magazine, which helped make it famous. It was submitted to SL in 1978 by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensborough North Carolina, but it had been around before then and had appeared under other names such as Grannie’s Cake and Nothing Left Cake. Nobody really knows where the name Hummingbird Cake came from. But there’s speculation.
— Some say the cake is so good it makes people hum. (Creepy!)
— Hummingbirds drink sweet nectar and this cake is packed with sweet fruit.
— Hummingbirds eat fast and when people eat this cake, they eat it quickly – hummingbird style.
— Someone was making it and saw a hummingbird out her window (Yawn).
— People were eating it and got attacked by hummingbirds.
Here’s the recipe that I use. Some versions call for mashed bananas, but the original version uses chopped. Also, cutting the oil will give you a less flaky cake that in my opinion, is more like banana bread. I recommend using the full amount of oil.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour 380 grams
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar 400 grams
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil**
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped bananas
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 pound cream cheese softened
- 2 sticks 8 oz butter (unsalted, softened)
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch or two of salt – omit if using regular salted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 9-inch round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray or rub with shortening and dust with flour.
- Stir flour, soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl; add eggs, oil and vanilla, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in pineapple, pecans, and bananas.
- Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
- Prepare cream cheese frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy – taste after adding 2 cups. Add more sugar if you prefer it to be sweeter. Beat in vanilla. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter.
- Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top.
Made this the other day. Didn’t make too many changes other than adding carrots and using salted butter in the frosting. Love it! It stays good a long time in the refrigerator too! My husband is on a diet.
I’ve had this recipe saved for a looong time and finally got around to making it for my sister’s birthday. It was a big hit! Very sweet, but I kept my cream cheese frosting a little tangy so as not to overpower the cake. I agree with you on the 2 vs 3 layers – I think 2 layers does this cake well. I used 2 8-inch rounds and made a few cupcakes with the extra batter. I love the banana flavor, but I wonder if doubling the pineapple and reducing the banana would let the pineapple flavor come through more…. maybe next time. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Heather - Ghost Baker
Thanks again for listing this, Anna. It worked out really well for me! I changed the frosting to a Cool Whip based one instead of cream cheese which I think just kept things a little lighter and didn’t overwhelm the cake. Sadly my brother took all the leftovers back with him to his house! 😛
Hi Anna! I’m SO excited to try this cake out! What are your thoughts on me halving the recipe and trying it out as cupcakes?
Yup! Two pans. I think there was a better ratio of cake to frosting so the cake wasn’t overly sweet. It didn’t even come close to overflowing.
Looks like you only used 2 pans – am I right? I assume it didn’t overflow?
Planning to make this tonight for a friend’s birthday 🙂
I would really like to see that version that starts with the lemon cake mix.
Yum! Sounds like the banana version of a carrot cake. And no cake can ever go wrong when it has cream cheese frosting!
I have been meaning to make a hummingbird cake ever since I saw the one Oprah’s ex chef makes. 🙂
Ghislaine-I did see that. Oh, if only I had the time to dry paper thin pieces of pineapple.. 😉
This is one of my all-time favourite cakes, to make and to eat. The only problem is I never see the cream cheese frosting as needed – the cake is so sweet on its own, frosting would be over the top!
A friend of mine makes Hummingbird Cake and starts with a lemon cake mix. It’s pretty tasty. If anyone wants me to post the recipe, let me know.
Gosh that cake sounds scary! LOL
This looks good, Anna….I have seen so many recipes for Hummingbird Cake. I was just re-reading one of James Villas books (the “My Mother’s Southern” series and I know he loves them! I did make the strawberry cake from AllRecipes this morning and I think it was quite good, btw. I did a cream cheese icing and I think I would defintely make it again.
Heidi and Anna, did you see the version Martha decorated with paper-thin slices of pineapple that she had oven-dried? Beautiful!
Veggiegirl, I’ll bet there are some good vegan hummingbird cakes.
Jan, I like my theory the best too.
Giz, people are bringing things so it’s not going to be out of control.
Heidi, I saw Martha’s version on her website. She added coconut to hers. She also sifted the dry ingredients.
I’ve seen both Martha and Paula Deen make a hummingbird cake – then Paula ON Martha making it! (cupcakes in Martha’s case) I had never even heard of it prior to that.
70 people at a party – you better get busy – sounds like you’ll need more than 2 cakes unless 10 other people are baking.
Hummingbird Cake sounds wonderful – love the ingredients – love the idea of bringing some southern baking to the great white north so I’m going to give it a try. Thanx for the recipe.
I have this vision of people lined up with this cake humming – you’re right – kinda creepy – almost cult like 🙂
Meant to say, I love your theory Anna!
Ahh, good luck at that party!! The Hummingbird cake is an EXCELLENT dessert to serve – yum!