I had never heard of a hummingbird cake until my friend and neighbor Mark Meyer requested that I make one for his birthday. It was so delicious I had to pinch myself. It was like eating banana bread with a side of pineapple. This cake is wonderful with cream cheese icing and stellar with seven-minute icing; you can decide for yourself. This cake originated in Jamaica, where the hummingbird, also called the “doctor bird,” is a national symbol; the cake is known there as the doctor bird cake. This cake isn’t traditionally made with coconut; I added it as a decidedly delectable option.
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, including the sugar and spices. Stir with a whisk to blend. Spread the pecans in a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour into a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a large knife, chop the pecans.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the pineapple, agave nectar, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
Add the safflower oil and eggs to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Add the toasted pecans and the pineapple mixture and stir until blended. Fold in coconut (if using).
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Cover each pan with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pans on wire racks.
Frost with the cream cheese or seven-minute icing. Spread
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