Hummingbird cake originates from the American South and has apparently been passed down many generations. It is totally delicious and straightforward to make (trust me on this – I have never made a complicated cake and don’t plan to!) The main flavours are the pineapple, banana (which are both blitzed to a puree before mixing with the other cake ingredients), pecan nuts and a touch of cinnamon. There is icing in the middle and on top, with lemon zest for extra flavour. The whole ensemble is fruity, moist and creamy. I attempted to make a pecan brittle for the top which failed so let’s just call it sugared pecans – they were still good and looked pretty! I also made a big cake then cut it in half but you could make two smaller cakes to sandwich together instead.
Allow about 2 hours in total (15 mins prep, one hour cooking, 15 mins icing and a little time in the fridge). Lasts a few days in the fridge.
Hummingbird cake (serves two greedy people and many more with self control)
For the cake mixture
250g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
200ml oil e.g. vegetable oil/sunflower oil/olive oil
250g drained canned pineapple (200g pureed in a food processor and 50g in little chunks)
2 medium sized bananas, pureed in a food processor or mashed
100g pecan nuts
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the icing
200g soft cheese
100g butter, softened
400g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Zest of 1/2 lime or lemon
Optional – for the sugared pecans
Small handful roughly chopped pecans
Sugar and a splash of water
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees.
Mix together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In another bowl mix together the oil, eggs, pureed pineapple and banana, pecans, vanilla essence and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture and mix everything together well. Pour the mixture in to two greased (with butter) small-medium cake tins (if making two cakes to sandwich together) or a large cake tin (if cutting the cake in half horizontally once cooked). Cook the cake/s for about an hour, until golden brown on top and a knife inserted comes out clean (check after 40 minutes then every 5-10 minutes thereafter). Once cooled, and if cooking just one cake, use a sharp knife to cut the cake in half horizontally (a bread knife works well). Remove the top half by placing a plate on top for support.
To make the icing mix or blend the soft cheese, butter, icing sugar, vanilla essence and lime or lemon zest until fairly thick and smooth. Spoon and spread the icing on to the middle of the cake (ensuring it is cooled!) and on top. Don’t worry if it runs down the sides a little – just put the whole thing in the fridge asap to help it set quicker.
If making sugared pecans, pour a generous amount of sugar in a pan with a splash of water and once combined and loosening up add the pecans until coated. Pour out quickly to cool then sprinkle on to the top of the cake (breaking in to smaller bits if need be). Eat more than you intended.