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Hummingbird Cake

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This is the best hummingbird cake recipe with a banana-bread texture and hints of pineapple. It is topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and roasted pecans.

side view of hummingbird cake with slice taken out so the inside of cake is visible

What is hummingbird cake? It is a delicious banana and pineapple-flavored dense cake with hints of cinnamon. It reminds me of banana cake mixed with pineapple upside-down cake.

You probably guessed by the tropical fruit that this recipe is from the Caribbean.

It was most likely invented in Jamaica before spreading to the American South via Jamaican tourism brochures.

I adapted this hummingbird cake recipe from The Perfect Cake by America's Test Kitchen.

I feel like their method for reducing the pineapple juice allows for concentrated flavor. It also adds moisture to the cake.


Why this recipe works

  • This hummingbird cake recipe calls for roasting the pecans and they taste so much better this way!
  • The cream cheese frosting has hints of cinnamon which enhances the overall cake flavor.
  • Both oil and butter are used, which adds moisture and richness to the finished product.

This is the best hummingbird cake! It is the perfect sweet cake for parties and get-togethers.

overhead of hummingbird cake with slice being taken out

What you need

The hints of cinnamon, banana and pineapple stand out in this delicious hummingbird cake recipe. Let’s discuss just a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • Fruit: Canned crushed pineapple works best in this recipe. Make sure that the bananas are overripe for the best results.
  • Flour & leavening: It's very important to measure the all-purpose flour accurately for this recipe. The baking powder and baking soda act as leavening agents.
  • Spices: Cinnamon provides extra flavor to the cake and the frosting.
  • Sugar: I used granulated sugar in the batter and powdered sugar in the frosting for this recipe.
  • Fats: The oil adds moisture, while the butter adds richness. The eggs add structure and flavor to the cake.

Equipment

This is a list of tools I used to make the recipe.

  • Cake pans: You'll need 2 9-inch round cake pans to make the layers of this cake.
  • Whisk & Spatula: A whisk is essential for getting the wet ingredients mixed properly. A silicone spatula is best for folding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without overmixing the batter.

How to make hummingbird cake

1. Make pineapple juice reduction

You'll reduce the juice from the canned pineapple over heat.

pineapple drained through sieve into glass measuring cup next to pineapple juice in fry pan
  1. Drain the pineapple using a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Then, press firmly to extract all the juice.
  2. Save the solids for later.
  3. Pour the juice into a small saucepan.
  4. Cook over medium heat until reduced to a ½ cup, about 5 minutes.
  5. Finally, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2. Mix wet ingredients

You'll combine the wet ingredients to start the batter.

process shots showing all wet ingredients mixed together with the addition of nuts
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until pale in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Then, whisk in the oil, butter and molasses.
  3. Finally, stir in the bananas, pecans, vanilla, pineapple bits and the reduced juice from earlier.

3. Mix dry ingredients

The dry ingredients need to be mixed prior to combining with the wet ingredients.

dry ingredients whisked together in bowl next to cake batter fully mixed in glass bowl
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients. Then, combine to finish batter. Take care not to overmix.

4. Bake

You'll bake the batter to create the hummingbird cake layers.

baked hummingbird cake in round cake pan
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the cake pans with grease and parchment paper as described in the recipe.
  3. Divide the hummingbird cake batter evenly between the pans. Then, take a silicone spatula and smooth the tops.
  4. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. You'll know it's done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes.
  6. Finally, remove them from the pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks. This should take about 2 hours.

5. Make the frosting

To finish the cake, you'll make a delicious frosting for the exterior.

cream cheese frosting in glass bowl
  1. Grab your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt on low speed until smooth.
  3. Continue to mix for 2 minutes while scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

6. Assemble the cake

You'll put frosting between the layers. Frost the exterior and top with roasted, chopped pecans.

cream cheese frosting spread over single cake layer, then cream cheese frosting in between two cake layers, then whole cake coated in frosting and topped with chopped pecans

Jen's Best tips

  • Measure the flour correctly! Using too much flour by mistake will ruin the texture of the cake.
  • Don't overmix! You don't need an electric mixer for this recipe. Use a balloon whisk and spatula to mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  • Overripe bananas are best for this recipe! If your bananas aren't overripe, roast them in their skin for 15 minutes at 350°F. Cool them completely and remove the skin before using.
  • This cake is dense but moist and will not rise a lot during baking.
  • This recipe can also be baked in three 8-inch pans. The bake time will need to be adjusted slightly.
  • Bake cupcakes by reducing the bake time. Start checking around 15 minutes.
slice of hummingbird cake with fork taking a bite out

Storing & Freezing

To store: You can store the hummingbird cake in the fridge tightly covered for no more than 5 days.

You may also wrap individual baked layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Make sure to bring to room temperature prior to frosting.

To Freeze: There are two ways to freeze this moist cake. You can wrap the baked layers individually and freeze for no more than 3 months.

Bring the layers to room temperature before frosting.

You can also freeze the frosted cake for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

You can either bring to room temperature or serve cold.


Other cakes you may like

If you're a fan of all things banana, you'll love these other cakes on my blog:


Watch how to make it

side view of hummingbird cake with slice taken out so the inside of cake is visible

Hummingbird Cake

Yield: 14 servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A classic hummingbird cake is moist and dense with hints of cinnamon, banana, and pineapple. Tangy cinnamon cream cheese coats the cake and it's topped with toasted pecans. This rich and sweet cake is perfect for parties and get togethers.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 16-ounces canned crushed pineapple in juice
  • 3 cups (390) all-purpose flour, measured correctly
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ (325 g) cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 g) vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
  • 2 cups (454 g) mashed bananas, about 4 very large ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (110 g) chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces (453 g) cream cheese, cut into pieces, softened
  • ½ cup (55 g) chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom, grease the paper, and dust the pans with flour. Gently tap out any excess flour. Set aside.
  2. Drain the pineapple using a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press firmly to extract the juice. Set the solids aside and pour the juice into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until pale in color, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the oil, butter, and molasses. Stir in the bananas, pecans, vanilla, pineapple bits, and the reduced juice.
  5. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Take care not to overmix.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with a silicone spatula. Bake 40-45 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on the wire, about 2 hours.

Make the frosting

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until smooth. Continue to mix for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the cream cheese, one piece at a time. Continue to mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Assemble the cake

  1. Place 1 cake layer onto a serving platter. Spread 1 ½ cups frosting evenly over the top, all the way to the edge of the cake.
  2. Top with the remaining cake layer, pressing lightly to make sure it stays in place. Spread another 1 ½ cups frosting evenly over the top.
  3. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the sides of the cake. Use an offset spatula to smooth the frosting.
  4. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before serving.

Notes

Pineapple: Make sure to choose pineapple in juice, not syrup. You can use 2 8-ounce cans or 1 16-ounce can. Using all the juice but cooking it down allows for more flavor without too much liquid.

Molasses: You can omit this if you don't have it. Or replace ½ cup of the granulated sugar with brown sugar - light or dark brown will work.

Oil & butter: I love the richness butter offers but oil makes the cake extra moist. You can't omit one or the other without a slight adaptation to the recipe which I've not tested.

Bananas: Make sure to use overripe ripe bananas. Bananas with dark spotty skins offer so much flavor and sweetness.

Pecans: Feel free to omit these if you have a nut allergy.

How to toast pecans

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes. Stir them occasionally to promote even browning. And watch carefully so the nuts do not burn.

Make ahead tips

  1. Cover the cake tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  2. Wrap individual baked cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, frost, and serve.
  3. Frosted cake freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature or serve cold.

Recipe adapted by America's Test Kitchen.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 640Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 337mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 3gSugar: 52gProtein: 6g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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