Hummingbird Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    10 to 12


Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

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.


For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • cups vegetable oil
  • One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
  • 2 cups chopped bananas
  • teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Icing

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • Two 16-ounce boxes confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with butter, dust the bottom and sides with flour, and set aside.

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, 1 cup of the nuts, the bananas, and vanilla.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake till a straw inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto racks to cool completely.

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.