Hummingbird cake is like banana cake's more interesting cousin! This cake has a unique combination of banana, pineapple, coconut and spices, making it the perfect summer dessert.
When it comes to frosting a hummingbird cake, a rich cream cheese frosting is the only way to go! I finish this delicious cake off with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut. It never fails to please a crowd.
Ingredients in Hummingbird Cake
- Self-raising flour: make sure it is in-date! If you are using plain / all-purpose flour, add 3 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Ground cinnamon: make sure it is in-date. Expired spices will lack flavour.
- Ground mixed spice: US/CA use pumpkin pie spice.
- Desiccated coconut: Use finely desiccated or medium desiccated coconut. Don't use shredded coconut, it is too coarse.
- Toasted pecans: pecans are traditional but you can use your favourite nut.
- Overripe bananas: the browner, the better. They should be squishy enough to mash easily.
- Tin of crushed pineapple in juice: this gives your cake a wonderful fruity flavour and delicious fluffy texture.
- Caster / superfine sugar: this finer sugar dissolves easily into the cake. You can also use regular white sugar if needed.
- Canola oil: or any other flavourless vegetable oil.
How To Make A Hummingbird Cake
Whipping up a hummingbird cake is a breeze, as it involves simple ingredients and straightforward steps that yield a moist and flavourful result. Bursting with tropical flavours from bananas, pineapple, and pecans, this indulgent sweet treat is a versatile dessert that adds a touch of decadence to any occasion, from casual gatherings to formal celebrations.
1. To begin making the cakes, sift together the flour, spices and salt. Whisk in desiccated coconut and chopped nuts.
2. In a separate medium bowl, mash the bananas well. I use a fork.
3. Whisk in crushed pineapple (including juice), caster sugar, eggs and canola oil.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined.
5. Distribute the cake batter evenly between two lined 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tins.
6. Bake until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
7. While the cakes are cooling, you can make the cream cheese frosting. See detailed instructions below.
8. Frost the cake, decorate as desired, and it is ready to serve!
How to Frosting and Decorate the Cake
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy, then add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Sift over the icing sugar. Beat until the frosting is even more pale and fluffy!
Place one cooled cake down on a serving plate. I put my serving plate on a cake turntable to make handling the cake a breeze.
Add a quarter of the cream cheese frosting and spread over the top of the cake. Place the second cake upside-down on top of the first cake. Top with half of the remaining frosting and spread smoothly over the top of the cake, pushing any excess down the sides of the cake. Use the remaining frosting to evenly cover the edges of the cake.
Add a ring of toasted coconut around the top and bottom edges of the cake if you want to be extra fancy! You could also make a ring of pecan halves on the top of the cake if that's your thing. Serve up and enjoy!
Top Tips & Troubleshooting
Why is my cake dry or tough?
The cake may be tough if it is overcooked. If your oven runs hot, reduce the cooking temperature. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the cakes during cooking. Test the cakes with a skewer to ensure they are cooked through fully.
Can I leave out the banana or the pineapple?
No, both of these ingredients are essential to a moist and fluffy cake. Beyond adding flavour, they also add liquid for the cake to come together.
Why has my cream cheese frosting split?
If your frosting is split or curdled, it is due to your butter and/or cream cheese being too hot or too cold. Your butter should be soft to touch but not melted.
Alternatively, if the environment is so hot that the butter and/or cream cheese will melt at ambient temperature, then the frosting will struggle to come together. The same goes for an environment which is too cold, and the butter won’t incorporate into the sugar.
You can keep the frosted cake refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
To freeze the un-frosted cakes, allow to cool completely then wrap tightly in clingwrap and then place in zip-loc or freezer bags. Keep for up to 6 months frozen. To thaw, allow to defrost at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight and frost as normal.
For the Hummingbird Cakes
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- ¾ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped, optional
- 2 overripe bananas
- 450 g (16 oz) tin of crushed pineapple in juice
- 1 ½ cups caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 125 g (4.5 oz / ½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 125 g (4.5 oz / ½ cup) cream cheese, cold and cubed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 ½ cups icing sugar / confectioners sugar
- Toasted shredded coconut, to decorate
For the Hummingbird Cakes
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease and line TWO x 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tins baking paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together self-raising flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, and salt. Whisk in desiccated coconut and chopped nuts (if using). Set aside.
- In a separate medium mixing bowl, mash the overripe bananas well. Add the tin of crushed pineapple (including juice), caster sugar, eggs and canola oil. Whisk together until well combined.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients and fold together until just combined.
- Distribute batter evenly among the two prepared cake tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream together butter and cream cheese on high speed until pale, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla essence and lemon juice and beat for another 1 minute until combined.
- Sift over icing sugar and beat for another 5 minutes or until very pale, smooth and fluffy.
- Place one cake onto a large plate or serving board. Take a quarter of the cream cheese frosting and place on top of the first cake. Using a palette knife or flat bladed knife, spread out evenly over the top of the cake. Place the second cake upside down onto the first cake.
- Top with half of remaining frosting. Spread out evenly in a thick layer over the top of the cake, pressing any excess frosting down the sides of the cake. Using the remaining frosting, cover the sides of the cake in a thick layer and smooth using the palette knife or flat bladed knife.
- Place a ring of toasted coconut around the top and base of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The frosting will continue to get firmer over the next couple of hours.
- You can keep the frosted cake refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To freeze the un-frosted cakes, allow to cool completely then wrap tightly in clingwrap and then place in zip-loc or freezer bags. Keep for up to 6 months frozen. To thaw, allow to defrost at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight and frost as normal.
Substitutions & Tips
- Flour: you can substitute 2 cups of self-raising flour with 2 cups of plain flour combined with 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
- Oil: you can substitute canola oil for any type of vegetable oil. Note that if you're using a rich olive oil it may change the flavour of the cake.
- Nuts: you can substitute pecans for your favourite nuts if desired. The best alternatives are walnuts, brazil nuts, or hazelnuts.
- Pineapple: instead of crushed pineapple, you can also used a 450 g (16 oz) tin of pineapple chunks in juice or pineapple rings in juice. If using rings, chop finely before adding to the cakes.
- Frosting: you can use your favourite buttercream or other frosting instead of cream cheese frosting, if desired. You can also serve the cakes without frosting or just dusted lightly with icing sugar.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1/10th of the Cake with Frosting
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 789Total Fat: 45.4gSaturated Fat: 14.2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 138.1mgCarbohydrates: 90.1gFiber: 11.5gSugar: 67.6gProtein: 5.6g