Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

Pineapple. A tropical fruit with a juicy yellow flesh and a thorny green skin. A DIY halloween costume. A stencil design at my grandma’s house. An upside down cake. An emoji🍍. A symbol of hospitality. The emblem Chuck Williams imprinted on his store in 1956, a store you and I know well. Williams-Sonoma. Today, October 2, is Chuck’s 100th birthday! It only seemed fitting to put a little pineapple in his cake.

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

I made Chuck a hummingbird cake—one commonly served in the south. It’s typically made with canned pineapple, ripe bananas, pecans, and wrapped in a cream cheese frosting. The cake (not the icing) is naturally dairy free. Eggs, oil, and fruit make up the wet ingredient list. I have a love hate relationship with this cake. The flavor is something wonderful. But with chunks of pineapple and bits of pecans throughout, the crumb fights to hold together, each bite promising a new flavor.

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

So I did some massaging to use fresh pineapple and frozen ripe bananas which are then pulsed together into tiny chunks to deliver a consistent bite. I added wheat flour for extra nuttiness and structure, but pulled the pecans from the cake and sprinkled them on top. If you’re anything like me, you can easily scrape them off. But deleting them all together might just compromise the integrity of the hummingbird cake. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my southern family, tradition is king. As much as I love to cut against the grain, I love the familiar repetition of things passed down. Do a google search for hummingbird cake and you’ll find the integrity of the ingredient list still very intact.

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

Like my carrot cake, I finished it off with a browned butter cream cheese frosting. It’s nutty, complex flavor balances nicely with the tropical notes of the cake. I swore off liberally icing the outside of cakes a couple months ago and haven’t gone back. When biting into a cake, I really love nothing more than experiencing the exact same bite until the the very last bite. This is my form of OCD.

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

The cake itself comes together quickly with a bowl, spoon, and a couple stirs. But I’d pull your mixer out for the buttercream. Make it ahead of time. This cake is best after a good rest. Aren’t we all?

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

So to Chuck, the guy who brought Le Creuset to the US, who convinced KitchenAid to make a mixer for home cooks, who’s filled my baking drawers full of tools over the years, happy 100th birthday!  Read more about Chuck’s finds here.

Hummingbird Cake | @thefauxmartha

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Hummingbird Cake


  • Yield: two 9" layers 1x

Description

Tropical, sweet, nutty Hummingbird Cake finished with a browned butter cream cheese frosting. This cake is best served after a rest. Make it in the morning, serve it in the evening or the next day. I love smaller cakes, so I halved this recipe, like I usually do, and baked in two 6″ cake pans.


Scale

Ingredients

  • Cake
  • 3 ripe bananas, frozen
  • 2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. flaky kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • 1 1/4 c. pure cane sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 c. canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. diced fresh pineapple
  • Buttercream
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 34 c. powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Make cake. Bring frozen ripe bananas to room temperature. If bananas were frozen in with peel on, place whole bananas in a bowl with warm water to thaw, flipping once. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line pans with parchment paper cut to size. Set aside.
  2. Into a medium bowl, whisk together flours, soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  3. Into a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Into a food processor or blender, pulse together thawed bananas and diced pineapple until broken down in size, but not pureed. Add to sugar mixture and stir together until completely incorporated.
  5. Using a large spoon or spatula, fold the flour into the batter until just combined. Over mixing will yield a dense batter.
  6. Evenly distribute batter between pans using a spring release ice cream scoop. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back upon a light touch. The cake will be a deep golden color.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for about 5 minutes. The cake may fall a bit in the center. Before removing, run a thin knife or offset spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen. Invert on cooling wrack and continue to cool.
  8. Make buttercream. Place one stick (1/2 cup) of butter in a small saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat until butter is browned, about 5 minutes. Pour into small bowl and freeze for 10 minutes to cool. Once cooled, use a hand-held or stand mixer to cream together browned butter, regular butter, and cream cheese until smooth. Add extract and salt. Mix again. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix well between each addition. After 3 cups, taste to see if additional sugar is necessary.
  9. Assemble. Place bottom layer of cake on cake stand, leveling the top if necessary. Add a substantial layer of icing. Place second layer on top, leveling if necessary. Add a final substantial layer of icing. With the remaining buttercream, barely ice the sides of the cake as if you were doing a crumb coat. Continue to work an offset spatula around until completely smooth. Top with pecan bits. Allow cake to rest for at least 3 hours before serving. Store covered.

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Recipe adapted from here and here.

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