Hummingbird Cake is such a lovely name for a cake. The roasting of the bananas gives it the most mellow of flavors, sugary, rich and delicious. Its origins are in the deep South of the USA, full of chopped pecans, crushed pineapple, and bananas frosted with a delicious cream cheese icing. This is a cake for a crowd or a celebration. A winter cake that reminds you of the summer months to come.
250g flour (3 cups) gluten free or regular
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
225g (1 cup) granulated sugar
225g (1 cup) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
200ml, 7floz (1 cup) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
160g (1 cup) pineapple, fresh or tinned, crushed
4 large or 6 medium-small bananas, roasted in their skins. (See below*)
100g (1 cup) chopped pecans
175g (1½ sticks) butter, chilled
3 x 8 ounce packets of cream cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
175 g icing sugar, sifted (1½ cups powdered sugar)
150g (1½ cups) finely chopped pecans
Makes 12 -16 servings
*First roast the bananas in a moderate oven preheated to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4. Place them on a lined baking sheet with there skins left on. Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until the skins are black (the bananas will leak out some juice, this is perfectly OK). Remove from the oven and let them cool until they can be handled. Peel the bananas and mash the flesh in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Leave the oven heated to 180°C.
Butter and flour 3 x 9″ round baking pans. Line the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
In a second mixing bowl combine the granulated and brown sugar. Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand into a smooth mixture. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar and egg mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture all at once and fold to combine the mixture fully. Add the crushed pineapple, mashed banana and the pecans. Stir just until combined, be careful not to over stir.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the three pans and place in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes until cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off the parchment paper and allow to fully cool before frosting.
To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Cube the butter and place in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium until the butter is still cool but has softened together (about 3 minutes).
Cut the cream cheese into 1 inch strips and add to the butter. Mix at medium speed until fully combined, and smooth.
Add the vanilla, lemon zest and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar. Beat until well blended, increasing speed to beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.
Fold in pecans by hand.
Bring it all together:
Place the first layer of cake upside down (the bottom of the cake will be frosted) on the serving plate. Cover with a thin layer of frosting. Place the second layer of cake right side up (flat cake bottom onto the frosting) and frost the top of this layer. Place the last cake layer with cake right side up and use the remaining frosting to cover top of cake and the sides. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for a while before serving and store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator. This cake is a little bit nicer when made the day before you want to serve it.