Hummingbird Cake Recipe

If you're any sort of fan of carrot cake, you're going to fall in love with this hummingbird cake! Hummingbird cake is a traditional Southern spice cake that uses bananas and pineapple in place of carrots. But just like carrot cake, it's finished off with a decadent, smooth cream cheese frosting.

Thought to be first created in Jamaica in the 1960s, the first printed edition of a hummingbird cake recipe was in Southern Living magazine in 1978. Rumored to be named after hummingbirds because the cake itself was sweet enough to attract them (as they only eat nectar), this cake has been called various other names over the years including the "cake that doesn't last." In our humble opinion, this name is spot on! We think you'll be hard-pressed to find a soul that doesn't fall head over heels for this sweet, nutty, moist, and downright delicious cake.

Below Chef Tara Rylie of Ryliecakes walks you through how to make a hummingbird cake from scratch.

How to best prepare cake pans to make this hummingbird cake recipe

When baking anything, including this hummingbird cake recipe, from scratch, the first two things you should always do is preheat the oven and prepare your pans. For this cake, you'll want to cut three six-inch circles out of parchment, and the easiest way to do this is simply to trace the cake pan onto parchment. Yes, skills you learned in elementary school will help make you a master baker! Once you've cut your cake liners out, coat all three pans with cooking spray, place the liners on the bottom of each, and then set them aside while you make your batter.

Gather and prepare hummingbird cake recipe ingredients

This hummingbird cake recipe is actually a little easier than most as there is no butter and sugar to cream just right. Hummingbird cake is a mashed banana and oil-based cake, which makes it quite simple to throw together. You do, however, want to make sure you've gathered all your ingredients and measured them out ahead of time. This will help create a seamless process and get your cake in the oven in about ten minutes.

There aren't too many substitutions on this cake, as you need these specific ingredients to call it a hummingbird cake. However, vanilla extract can be used in place of vanilla bean paste, vegetable oil can be used in place of canola oil, and if you're allergic to pecans, you can use other nuts such as walnuts or almonds.

How to toast pecans for this hummingbird cake recipe

First things first with this hummingbird cake recipe: Toast your pecans so that they have a little time to cool before adding to your batter. To do so, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and place the pecans on top of parchment in a single layer. Then, bake pecans in the preheated oven for approximately seven minutes until golden brown — they will smell nutty when done. (Yes, this will make your kitchen smell great.) When ready, remove pecans from oven and let cool before roughly chopping. If desired, you can set a handful of whole pecans aside for decorating your cake later on.

Banana soup makes for the best hummingbird cake recipe

Next, you'll whisk together your AP flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and half a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Set this aside while you mash up your bananas for this hummingbird cake recipe.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the bananas on medium-low speed until they are thoroughly mashed. The mixture should look like banana soup when it's done, and it should be pale yellow in color. A few little chunks here and there are definitely okay and will add a nice texture to the final cake.

Throw together this hummingbird cake recipe step by step

Next, you'll add both sugars until they're fully incorporated, and then you'll slowly stream in your canola oil. Then, add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. This process helps to emulsify the eggs with the oil, helping to create a seamless batter. After you've added your eggs, decreased mixer speed to low and added your the crushed pineapple and vanilla bean paste, you'll continue to beat batter until everything is combined. Lastly, you'll add your dry ingredients and a third of a cup of chopped pecans.

Like we said earlier, there's no creaming butter in this recipe, so it's pretty impossible to screw up! Just have your ingredients prepared and add them in the order the recipe states.

You're ready to bake this hummingbird cake recipe

Portion your batter for this hummingbird cake recipe evenly into your prepared cake pans and bake for 24 minutes. We recommend rotating your pans halfway though so that they bake more evenly throughout. This is especially helpful if your oven has hot spots. Use the toothpick test to determine if your cakes are done. When done, let your cakes cool completely on a wire rack while you whip up some cream cheese frosting.

Do this one step to make the best cream cheese frosting for this hummingbird cake recipe

Cream cheese frosting is also a relatively easy part of this hummingbird cake recipe. You beat your shortening and butter together, slowly add in your cream cheese, and finally add in your powdered sugar. It's surely not rocket science, but to create the most perfect cream cheese frosting, one without any lumps, you must sift your powdered sugar first! We know powdered sugar can be a pain to sift. However, in the case of this recipe, it's totally worth it. Powdered sugar has a tendency to clump up, and sifting it before adding to your frosting will ensure a smooth frosting as opposed to a lumpy or gritty one.

Hummingbird cake recipe assembly

When your hummingbird cake recipe has cooled and your frosting is ready, it's time to assemble your cake. Again, this cake is relatively easy to assemble because there are no fillings or out-of-this-world toppings. It's basic in all the best ways. 

To assemble, place one six-inch cake round on top of your serving platter or cake cardboard, and then spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over the cake. Next, place a second 6-inch cake round on top of the first and repeat frosting process. Finally, place your last 6-inch cake round on top of the second and top with cream cheese frosting. Use your remaining frosting to cover the sides of cake and then decorate it with your remaining chopped or whole pecans as desired.

Let this cake set in your refrigerator for one hour before cutting and serving. Lastly, enjoy every last bite!

Hummingbird Cake Recipe
5 from 34 ratings
You're going to fall in love with this hummingbird cake! Hummingbird cake is a Southern spice cake that uses bananas and pineapple in place of carrots.
Prep Time
40
minutes
Cook Time
24
minutes
Servings
8
slices
slice of hummingbird cake recipe
Total time: 64 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups pecans, divided
  • 1 ½ cups AP flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bananas
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 ounces canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 ½ blocks (12 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat three 6-inch round cake pans evenly with cooking spray and line with parchment.
  2. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and place pecans in single layer on parchment. Bake in preheated oven for approximately seven minutes until golden brown — they will smell nutty too. Remove from oven, cool completely, and then roughly chop. If desired, keep a handful of pecans whole for decorating cake.
  3. Whisk together AP flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat bananas on medium-low speed until they are thoroughly mashed. Mixture should look like banana soup.
  5. Add both sugars until incorporated, and then slowly stream in canola oil.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Decrease speed to low and add crushed pineapple and vanilla bean paste, beat until combined.
  8. Add dry ingredients and ⅓ cup of chopped pecans. Beat on low until just combined and there are no dry spots left in batter.
  9. Portion batter evenly into prepared cake pans, approximately 14 ounces per pan.
  10. Bake for 24 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  11. Let cakes cool completely on wire rack before frosting and decorating.
  12. To begin frosting, cream together shortening and butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment until completely smooth. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  13. With mixer on medium speed, slowly add cream cheese to butter mixture. Once added, beat on high until mixture is completely smooth. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  14. Decrease mixer speed to low and add vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue beating on low while slowly adding in sifted powdered sugar.
  15. Assemble cake. Place one 6-inch cake round on top of your serving platter or cake cardboard. Spread layer of cream cheese frosting over cake. Place second 6-inch cake round on top of first and repeat filling process. Place final 6-inch cake round on top of second, top with cream cheese frosting, and use remaining frosting to cover sides of cake and decorate with remaining chopped pecans as desired.
  16. Let cake set in refrigerator for one hour before cutting and serving. Cake will last for one week in refrigerator or one month in freezer. Enjoy!
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,040
Total Fat 62.8 g
Saturated Fat 16.3 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 109.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 116.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Total Sugars 92.2 g
Sodium 511.1 mg
Protein 8.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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