We had two birthdays to celebrate this week so we decided to make an old fashioned hummingbird cake. I was surprised that my boyfriend’s mum in Brisbane had the recipe since the first reference to hummingbird cake was in Southern Living’s February 1978 issue as a recipe sent in by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins on Greensboro, NC! Once you try one of these sweet, tropical cakes you’ll understand why it went on to become the most requested recipe from Southern Living. The one mystery that Mrs. Wiggins never explained in her submission to Southern Living was how the cake got it’s unusual name.
I did a little research and found that there are several theories as to why the cake is called a hummingbird cake, whichall seem pretty plausible. I found these on associatedcontent.com:
- This cake is so yummy that it makes you HUM with delight, or happiness when you anticipate having a slice
- Hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers and this cake is just a sweet as a flower’s nectar
- Hummingbirds themselves are associated with the lighthearted and sweet side of life, hence the name of this cake
- When the cake is served, people hover around it the way hummingbirds hover around nectar bearing flowers
- Although a cake made for people, it is a cake sweet enough to attract even hummingbirds
Regardless of where the name originated, the cake is fantastic for celebrations and very simple to make – you don’t even need a mixer until you start making the frosting! Here’s the original recipe from Mrs. Wiggins, but I’ve noted the changes that we used since I think that the original recipe is too sweet.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar (we used 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce or 250g) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped bananas
- 2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces (250g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 16 ounces (500g) icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Mix butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until incorporated. Then mix in the confectioners sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated.
We decided to make the cake even more tasty by adding sliced mangos and shredded coconut between each layer. My boyfriend’s mum has tried both fresh and canned mango slices and recommends to go with the canned mango since it’s juicier. Either way you can’t go wrong!
Spread the Icing over each layer, top with slices of mango and dust with coconut. Then spread the remaining icing over the rest of the cake.