Southerners’ passion for big, rich, complex cakes is perhaps best exemplified by this spicy masterpiece, which has won blue ribbons at county fairs all over the South and is served at any occasion, from birthday parties to weddings to bereavements. Of course nobody knows for sure how the cake got its name, but the most logical explanation so far comes from my own mother: “You see, the cake is sweet as molasses, and everybody knows how hummingbirds love red sugar water and the sweet nectar of flowers, so the reasoning makes lots of sense.” Right.
To make the cake, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir till well blended. Add the eggs and oil and stir till the dry ingredients are moistened, taking care not to beat them. Stir in the pineapple,
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
To make the icing, combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and cream with an electric mixer till smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, beat till light and fluffy, and stir in the vanilla. Spread the icing between the cakes stacked on a cake plate, ice the top and sides of the cake, and sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.