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Hummingbird Cake – banana, pineapple spice cake with a pineapple curd, cream cheese buttercream and toasted, candied pecans.
I’ve had a lot of cake in my life. Like, A LOT! But, believe it or not, I’ve never had Hummingbird Cake. Have you? To be totally honest, I didn’t even know about it until a few years ago. Ever since it’s been on my list to make. Last week, I finally got around to working on my own recipe and all I’ve got to say is, how on earth did I not make this cake sooner!
Hummingbird Cake is a traditional southern dessert. It’s known for being an coconut oil-based cake, rather than a butter-based cake. This banana cake is also known for having more fruit (tons of bananas and crushed pineapple) in it than flour, which makes it incredibly moist. In a traditional Hummingbird Cake recipe, you’ll also find lots of spices, toasted pecans and cream cheese frosting.
My Version of Hummingbird Cake
For my version of a Hummingbird Cake, I wanted to stay fairly true to the roots of this dessert for those who know and love this moist cake already. You’ll see I use mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and lots of spices, similar to other recipes.
However, by now you know I don’t love nuts in my cake layers. So instead of throwing pecans into my Hummingbird cake batter, I toasted and candied them and added the pecans to the exterior of the cake. I love the sweet and salty crunch this adds to each bite.
The other element I added to the Hummingbird cake is the pineapple curd.
Oh my goodness!
I’m not even sure what I’ve been doing with my life up until now without knowing the incredible goodness of pineapple curd. I took one bite and knew it was exactly what my cake needed, as well as my toast, my pancakes, my crepes, and everything else I put in my mouth. Not to mention it will for sure be added to coconut cake layers this summer for a pina colada cake!
For the pineapple curd, I made my own pineapple juice. Since we’re going into the summer months when pineapple is at its peak, you’ll get the best pineapple flavor from a fresh pineapple. However, using fresh pineapple for this Hummingbird cake is not necessary. You can also use canned pineapple juice. Try to find juice that doesn’t have sugar added to it. We’ll be doing that on our own when we make the curd.
To make your own pineapple juice:
- Dice an entire pineapple
- Place the pineapple in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium
- The pineapple will start to cook and juices will start to release
- Cook for about 5 minutes so the pineapple softens.
- Puree the pineapple in a blender or food processor
- Strain the juice from the meat of the pineapple
- Measure one cup of juice for the curd
The pineapple curd is best made a day ahead of time. In fact, I even like this whole Hummingbird cake better on the second day when the flavor has settled a bit. To store the cake, if you make it ahead of time, just make sure you cover it well and store it in the fridge overnight.
Cake Video: Making the Layers
Cake Video: Assembly
Make sure to check that if you poke a toothpick in that the center comes out clean! Love cream cheese frosting, here are a few more delicious cakes calling your name!
- Classic Carrot Cake
- Strawberry Cake
- Honey Pear Upside Down Cake
- Untraditional Carrot Cake with Apricot Filling and White Chocolate Buttercream
Banana, pineapple spice cakes with pineapple curd, cream cheese buttercream and toasted candied pecans.
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup (220 g) vegetable oil can also use canola or coconut
- 1 cup (220 g) packed brown sugar
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz) crushed pineapple canned with some juices
- 2 cups (400 g) mashed bananas about 4 large or 5 medium
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp. (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. (5.3 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. (1.2 g) nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. (.8 g) ginger
- 1/4 tsp. (.8 g) cloves
- 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp. (5.6 g) salt
FOR THE PINEAPPLE CURD
- 1 cup (230 g) pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. (5 g) corn starch
- 4 tbsp. (56.5) unsalted butter cut into cubes
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 1 1/2 cups (339 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
- 6 oz. cream cheese slightly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
- 3 tbsp (45 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
FOR THE CANDIED PECANS
- 2 cup (250 g) chopped pecans
- 2/3 cup (133 g) granulated sugar
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil and sugars. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Add the mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture.
- Evenly divide the cake batter between the three prepared pans (about 20 ounces of batter in each). Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. *Remember, each of our ovens bake differently. Bake time may vary slightly. **Also note that my bake time is for three pans, on one rack, in one oven. If you only have two or one pan in the oven at a time, your bake time will decrease.
- Let the cake layers cool in the pans on cooling racks for about 10 to 15 minutes. Invert the cake layers onto the cooling racks to cool completely.
- Level cake layers, if needed.
- Cake layers can be made ahead of time. To store: let cake layers cool to room temperature and then wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze. Before you decorate your frozen cake layers, let them thaw at room temperature for about 30 to 60 minutes prior to decorating.
FOR THE CURD
- The curd is best made a day ahead of time.
- Whisk the sugar, the pineapple juice and corn starch in a medium saucepan.
- In a small bowl, whisk in the whole eggs and yolks in a small bowl and then whisk them into the pineapple mixture.
- Turn the heat to medium. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it's thick like pudding, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until incorporated.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the cream, vanilla and pinch of salt.
- Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes.
FOR THE TOASTED, CANDIED PECANS
- Combine the chopped pecans and sugar in a skillet over medium heat.
- Continuously stir as the nuts are cooking and the sugar is melting. We want to coat the pecans with the sugar as it melts, but we don't want the pecans to burn.
- This process takes some patience.
- Once the pecans are coated with sugar and toasted, pour them onto a sheet of parchment paper to cool completely.
- Place the first cake layer, top side up, on a cake plate or cake board.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake layer and pipe a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake to create a barrier to the filling. Spread about 1/4 cup of the curd in the center of the cake, carefully spreading it to the edge of the piping.
- Place a second cake layer on top of the piped frosting and filling and repeat step 2. Place the final cake layer, top side up, on the second layer of filling.
- Lightly coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for about 10 to 15 minutes to set the frosting.
- Finish frosting and decorating the cake with the remaining frosting. Cover the cake with the candied pecans.
- The buttercream should have enough for a little piping on the top, like my cake. You can add some curd on the top, as I did, or serve a spoonful of the remaining pineapple curd with each slice of cake.
This cake is to die for. I’m blaming my self for this part and could use my help. My cakes never rise like yours do! My cakes or about 1/2 high. Am I over mixing? Using not enough rising agent or wrong type of pans?
Your baking soda or powder could be old. They shouldn’t be older than 6 months. Also I recommend using fat daddio pans and making sure you don’t over mix!
The instructions are super easy to follow! This frosting is the first I’ve ever made that has the right consistency for icing. I love the flavor of the cake. I toasted almond instead of pecans. Still worked wonderfully. I love the flavors of the pineapple in it. Almost smells like banana bread coming out the oven.
Thank you so much!
Do you recommend using ripened bananas? Thanks! My great grandmother was the queen of hummingbird cake. Can’t wait to make!
I just finished the curd! It’s delicious and sweet but for some reason I was expecting it to be more tart. Is it suppose to be and maybe the pineapple I used wasn’t as flavorful? Or is the main taste sweet with subtle pineapple?
It’s not super tart! You did it right!
Since this has cream cheese in the frosting, how long before serving should I assemble it? I won’t have room once its assembled to refrigerate it.
You can assemble it the day of in the morning without issues.
Hi, Can I know if I can stack this cake as a bottom tier when making a two-tier cake?
It might not be ideal because of the soft filling.
Amazing, brought down the house with this cake for a birthday. I used 4 6-inch pans, but still kept it as a 3 layer cake. It was a smaller gathering in the first place, but I also used the spare layer to fashion a little mini-me version of the cake to serve as the candle-blowing cake (COVID friendly). Followed the recipe to the letter, even making the curd (omg heaven) from fresh pineapple as suggested. My only wrong turn was letting pecans burn, so that was a do-over but otherwise not a hitch. So moist, so delicious. For the record, this was my first time even eating, let alone making, a hummingbird cake…or a curd…so the instructions in the recipe made this total novice look like a pro.
This makes me so happy! Thank you for letting me know!
Dear Courtney, I have your book and have been following your blog. I tried your Oreo Peanut Butter cake and it was marvelous. You’re my new baking guru and I appreciate your creations. Will try this cake next. I live in a tropical country so we have the best pineapples 🙂
I will always be your guru if you let me!!
I have made so many of you cakes and have your cookbook, but I made this cake and although the curd and buttercream were delicious, the cake was uneatable. I went over the recipe several times and I know I did all the ingredients right. I can’t figure out what went wrong. The cake was a terrible texture and just rubber. It was so hard to throw away $30 worth of ingredients. Like I said, I’ve been so successful with your cakes, I’d love some insight into what might of gone wrong???
So sorry you had an issue with the cake layers. As you can see from my pictures the crumb is definitely moist and tender like a banana cake. Sounds like you followed it really well but for it to be dense and “rubber” like- I do wonder if there was an ingredient issue. Any chance you forger the baking powder or it was old or you used too much butter?
I made the homemade Pineapple juice…what do I do with the pulp? Throw it out? Use it for garnish? Use it for the crushed Pineapple in the cake? Put it in oatmeal or something? Lol I hate wasting food, so please help lol
Whatever you want to use it for!
The cake recipe says 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract but has 4.2g which is actually one teaspoon of vanilla extract, not sure which measurement to go with?
I want to make this for Easter – any suggestions to make it as a sheet cake?
Thank you, Linda