I’ve recently become obsessed with hummingbird cake. First, I love the name: it sounds pretty. Second, it’s almost a cross between four of my favorite sweets: coconut cake, frosted banana cake, carrot cake and banana bread. It’s sweet, but not overly so. It has texture, but is super moist. It’s rustic, yet elegant. Best of all, it’s a sheet cake and it’s incredibly easy to make. Really. In the “cake” world, it does not get much easier than this.
If you Google “hummingbird cake,” you will see references to a banana-pineapple spice cake common in the Southern U.S.—a mid 19th century invention. The hummingbird cake apparently was created in Jamaica and named after the island’s national bird—the hummingbird. On Jamaica, the cake has another name: “doctor bird cake,” after another name for the national bird. But how did this small island make such a big splash with this tropical-style cake? It turns out that the Jamaican Tourist Board is responsible for its popularity.
From what I understand, in 1978 the tourist board got the idea to export hummingbird cake recipes with other popular local Jamaican favorites in media kits aimed at Americans, in hopes of driving up tourism. The hummingbird cake recipe quickly got traction. Southern Living picked it up and within a year it had won the “Favorite Cake Award” at the Kentucky State Fair. In 1990, it got selected as Southern Living’s favorite recipe and was recognized for being “the most requested recipe ion the magazine’s history. Impressive.
Typically made in a layer-cake fashion, I broke from the mold in my recipe. Sometimes simple is best. If you have never tried a hummingbird cake, you should give it a try. This is an easy, absolutely delicious cake that does not disappoint.
Hummingbird Sheet Cake
- For the Cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- dash of salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- For the Frosting:
- two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 2 Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.
- Step 3 For the Cake: In a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
- Step 4 In the bowl of kitchen mixer such as a Kitchen Aid fitted with a paddle attachment, add the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Beat on medium until well incorporated.
- Step 5 Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Add the pineapple and banana and mix well.
- Step 6 Remove the bowl from the stand and using a rubber spatula gently fold in the pecans.
- Step 7 Pour the cake batter in to the prepared baking pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to even out and remove any air bubbles. Place in the oven and bake for about 55 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Step 8 For the Frosting: Place the cream cheese and butter in to the bowl of a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high until smooth and well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix.
- Step 9 With the mixer on low slowly add the confectioners sugar. Mix until smooth and fluffy.
- Step 10 Once the cake cooled completely, invert the cake onto a serving platter. At this point I like to use a serrated knife to lightly trim the cake removing any hard crust.
- Step 11 Frost the cake as desired. Store the frosted cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.