This classic Hummingbird Cake is packed with pineapple, banana, and pecans. Ultra moist cake layers with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg covered in a cream cheese frosting.
I’ve had a Hummingbird Cake on my radar for a while now, ever since I first had one on our trip to Walt Disney World a couple years ago. It kept getting bumped by something or other.
Part of me wondered if the world really needed another Hummingbird Cake recipe. But, since a few of you have asked me for one lately who am I to refuse?? I hope this recipe lives up to your expectations. It has truly exceeded mine!
What is a Hummingbird Cake?
A hummingbird cake is a dense and moist cake consisting of pineapple, bananas, pecans, and spices paired with a cream cheese frosting. It is a very popular Southern dessert which originated in Jamaica in the 1960’s.
It is named after the island’s national bird and is also known as the Doctor Bird Cake (which is another name for hummingbird). You can read more about its history here.
What is Hummingbird Cake Made Of?
The key ingredients are very simple:
My very first experience with a Hummingbird Cake was at Art Smith’s Homecomin‘ restaurant in Disney Springs.
The meal and dessert at Homecomin’ was the most memorable and our favourite by far. SO good. Naturally, I had to sample his famous Hummingbird Cake (I’d heard rave reviews) and it was every bit as delicious as I had hoped/expected.
If you’re ever in the Disney Springs area, do yourself a favour and go to Homecomin’. You honestly will not regret it. There are many restaurants to choose from when you’re in WDW, and we sampled many, but this one truly was just the best.
This Hummingbird Cake Recipe I bring you today, is my modified version of Chef Art Smith’s recipe.
Art Smith’s Hummingbird Cake is completely delicious as is, but I thought that adding brown sugar, some extra spices & flavourings, and some more chopped pecans would make it even better (spoiler alert: it did!). I also toasted the pecans 5mins to give them a bit more flavour.
When I was working on this recipe I ran into the issue of not having overripe bananas. The bananas I had were actually not even RIPE. Like super firm and had a bit of green on them still. I tried to ripen them in the oven, which worked ok, but took longer than I expected.
I baked them at 350°F, but it took like 30mins or so (not 5-7 like the video mentioned). Maybe because mine were a bit more underripe, I’m not sure. In the end it worked ok. Once they were cooled, they were almost the consistency of thawed frozen bananas — soft, mushy, but not completely. I was still able to chop them.
If you’re in a bind and don’t have any overripe or frozen bananas, you can try this method, but I think next time I’d bake them at 300°F for an hour like this post suggests. Be sure to cool completely before chopping and using in the cake. Ideally though, save up those overripe bananas for your baking!
How to Make Hummingbird Cake
The method for making this cake is much different than your standard cake recipe. It does not involve creaming butter and sugar. In fact, it’s recommended that you don’t use a mixer at all so that you don’t overmix the ingredients.
It’s really a super simple recipe that anyone can make:
- Whisk dry ingredients together.
- Whisk wet ingredients together.
- Fold dry ingredients into wet.
- Gently fold in pecans.
I recommend sifting your dry ingredients together and whisking them well. This will help make sure everything is properly dispersed.
The batter will be quite thick and doesn’t rise a ton. The resulting cake is deliciously dense and moist and truly just heavenly. The added brown sugar and extra spices give this cake a delicious flavour.
I chopped my banana vs mashing it as I wanted some larger banana pieces in there, to go with the pineapple pieces and the pieces of pecans. This almost has the consistency of a fruit cake in that regard (but a good one) — extremely moist with chunks of fruit and nuts.
If you don’t love that you can totally mash the banana and even puree the pineapple a bit, but I love the texture as is.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream cheese frosting is notoriously difficult to work with. Though I love the flavour pairing with certain cake recipes, I don’t like working with it as I find it too soft and difficult to decorate with. I don’t like it to be overly sweet either, so don’t want to add a ton of powdered sugar in there.
For this frosting recipe I used softened (but still cool) butter and cream cheese. Not room temperature as I find them too soft. You can add more or less powdered sugar if you like, and more or less salt to cut the sweetness. It’s pretty forgiving in that regard, but will not be as firm as an American buttercream or Swiss meringue buttercream.
The slightly chilled butter and cream cheese helped (as did the cooler temperatures – finally!). Also, I always sift my powdered sugar. This is not critical, but mine is always super lumpy so I just sift it.
As with all my cream cheese frosting cakes, I tend to stick to a more rustic manner of decorating. I just don’t want to fuss with crisp, smooth edges or piping. Plus a rustic frosting just goes perfectly with this Hummingbird Cake I think.
I tried to do something pretty and fancy with the fruit on the top, but failed miserably. Literally probably an hour of cutting, placing, moving, removing the fruit until I just gave up and did a pecan border around the top and placed some fruit slices on the top.
I don’t love how it looks, but whatever, it tastes like heaven!!
This truly is a delicious cake. I like to think of it as a Fall cake, even though it has summer fruits in there, because it’s just perfectly comforting. If you’re a Hummingbird Cake fan, I hope you give my version a try!
Looking for more Classic Cake recipes?
- Classic Vanilla Cake
- Classic Chocolate Cake
- Classic White Cake
- Classic Carrot Cake
- Classic Birthday Cake
Tips for making this Hummingbird Cake Recipe:
- This cake is very moist and dense. It does not rise a lot.
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans as long as they are 3″ tall, or two 9″ pans. Baking time may need to be adjusted.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so.
- Be sure your bananas are overripe. If you don’t have any overripe ones on hand, read the post above for tips.
- I slightly drained the crushed pineapple. You want some of that juice in there, but not all of it.
- Toss the chopped pecans in a bit of flour before folding into the cake batter. This will prevent them from sinking.
- Don’t use a mixer — just mix the batter by hand.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my Flat Top Cakes post!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups chopped bananas 5 medium, overripe
- 1 cup crushed pineapple lightly drained
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs lightly whisked
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans toasted,165g, tossed in 1 Tbsp flour
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- chopped pecans toasted
- pineapple slices optional
- banana slices optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 8" cake rounds and line with parchment.
- In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, sugars, spices, and salt. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs,vanilla. Whisk until well combined.
- Gently fold dry ingredients into wet. Fold in chopped pecans. Batter will be quite thick.
- Spread batter evenly among the pans and bake for 30-35 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean and the middle of the cake springs back when pressed.
- Remove from oven. Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 mins then turn out onto wire rack. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Beat on med-high for two minutes until smooth and fluffy.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with about 1 cup of buttercream, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers and apply a thin coat of frosting all over the cake to crumb coat. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost the cake with a rustic pattern using the remaining buttercream. Sprinkle chopped pecans around the top (or along the bottom) and top with fresh pineapple and banana slices if desired.