The Hummingbird Cake

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    One 8 Inch

    Layer Cake

Appears in

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.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup millet flour
  • ½ cup glutinous rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ cup sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons guar gum
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple (in juice, not syrup)
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup safflower oil
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1 double recipe Cream Cheese Frosting or Seven-Minute Icing

Method

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans. Line each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

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 ½ cup frosting over one layer for a filling, then top with the second layer. If using the cream cheese frosting, cover the top and sides of the cake with a crumb coat (a very thin layer of frosting) and refrigerate for 10 minutes to set it (this keeps crumbs out of the final coat of frosting). Finish the cake by frosting the top and sides, making swirls in the cream cheese frosting and little peaks in the seven-minute icing.

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