Learn how to make the best Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe!
This classic eye-catching layer cake originated in Jamaica and later became popular in the Southern US.
Tender banana, pineapple and pecan spice cakes are layered with a tangy cream cheese frosting. Decorated on top with cute edible rose buds and toasted pecans.
It’s the perfect cake recipe to bake if you have a love for tropical flavours. Each slice bursts with notes of coconut, vanilla, pineapple, orange and banana.
We love serving this Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe as a dessert on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or as a special treat when serving Afternoon Tea.
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What Is Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake?
Hummingbird Cake is a banana-pineapple spice cake originating in Jamaica and a popular dessert in the southern United States since the 1970s. It is often served with cream cheese frosting and walnuts or pecans.
Created in Jamaica where the dessert is called Doctor Bird Cake, it is named after the island’s national bird, the scissors-tail hummingbird (locally known as the Doctor Bird). In 1968, the Jamaica Tourist Board exported the recipe for hummingbird cake, along with other local Jamaican recipes, in media press kits sent to US media. The marketing was aimed at American consumers to create interest in visiting the island.
One of the first known publications of the recipe, as written by L.H. Wiggins, was in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living. The recipe was a hit with readers and won the Favorite Cake Award later that same year at the Kentucky State Fair.
We love making this Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day as we decorate the top of the cake with pretty edible rose buds.
My Family Loves This Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe
My family loves baking.
When I was little my mom would dedicate hours to decorating specialty cakes for our birthdays. She’d visit the local bake shop to purchase cake pans in the shape of our favourite heroes of the moment, from My Little Pony to Cookie Monster.
She’d decorate our birthday cakes each year using specialty piping bags. Famously one year when I was a toddler, she was piping bright red fur onto a chocolate cake shaped like Elmo. Halfway through icing the cake she went to answer the phone and when she returned the icing had moved from the cakes surface to a joyous smear across my giggling face.
My love for eating cake into adulthood has been an honest and enthusiastic evolution.
I first baked this Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe at our family cottage in Muskoka in the Fall, the perfect season to enjoy roasted nuts and festive spices.
I knew my family would love this decadent layer cake as they love banana muffins, cream cheese frosting and roasted nuts.
We enjoyed a slice of this cake after dinner one evening with a pot of Earl Grey Tea. Being very naughty, we forked into leftover cake slices the following morning as an easy breakfast paired with a mug of coffee and healthy yogurt parfaits.
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe Baking Tips
If it’s your first time baking Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake at home be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula when scraping cake batter into baking tins.
- You’ll save yourself time and energy by using a stand mixer to beat the icing. You can also use a handheld egg beater or whisk as an alternative.
- We’ve prepared this recipe using a round cake pan but you could use a square cake pan if you prefer.
- We’ve used sour cream to moisten the cake but you can use Greek yogurt if you prefer.
- We’ve used pecans in this recipe but you can substitute with walnuts.
- Feel free to sprinkle the cake with shredded coconut for additional eye appeal.
- If you have leftovers store the cake in the fridge under a cake dome to keep it fresh.
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Health Benefits
Our Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe is packed full of wholesome ingredients!
Rich in energy-boosting manganese, cinnamon is also antibacterial and may protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
Cardamom contains phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Pineapple features vitamins and minerals that are known to help shorten viral and bacterial infections and strengthen bones. There’s also evidence that the tropical fruit may help prevent cancer and help fertility by improving the quality of sperm.
Containing starch and fibre, bananas are an excellent superfood for digestive health. They are a good source of heart-healthy potassium, as well as amino acids and vitamin B6, which help keep your brain healthy.
Pecans offer heart-friendly fats, immune-boosting copper, and manganese, which helps keep your brain and nerves healthy.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
What To Serve with Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake
We suggest serving this tropical layer cake on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day as the edible rose buds used to decorate the cake fit the mood of the celebration.
We also love serving a slice of this Jamianca cake at tea time or during a coffee break. It pairs nicely with a hot pot of floral black tea or dark roast coffee. If you’re serving homemade Afternoon Tea it’s the perfect addition to a three tiered service.
You can also make a decadent ice cream sundae by serving a slice of this cake with a scoop of Pralines and Cream Ice Cream, Maple Black Walnut Ice Cream, or Chocolate Chip Caramel Banana Nut Ice Cream.
Top the sundae with sliced banana, chopped roasted nuts and caramel sauce.
What Does Hummingbird Cake Taste Like?
We think Hummingbird Cake tastes like a tropical vacation, befitting its Caribbean roots. The ultra-moist layer cake has a sweet, fruity, spicy flavour profile that might be described as carrot cake meets banana bread.
Essential Cake Tools & Equipment
Whether you’re a novice baker or consider yourself a pastry king or queen, it’s important to outfit your kitchen with quality tools and equipment.
We’ve created a list of our favourite baking gadgets on Amazon to help you make this impressive Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake recipe at home!
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- French Knife
- Round Cake Pans
- Stand Mixer
- Cooling Rack
- Cake Turntable
- Offset Icing Knife
- Cake Dome
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How To Make Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Cake Stand
- Cake Pans
- Mixing bowls
- Stand Mixer
- Bread Knife
- Palette knife
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups White Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Ground Rose Petals
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
- 3 Eggs
- 3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
- 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup Sour Cream
- 8 oz Crushed Pineapple with juice
- 2 cups Very Ripe Bananas mashed
- 1 cup Pecans chopped
- 1.5 lb Cream Cheese room temperature
- 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter room temperature
- 5 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
- 1 cup Whole Pecans
- Rose Petals
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly coat three 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, rose petals, and cardamom and mix well. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with vegetable oil, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt, then stir in the dry ingredients, mixing just until they are moistened. Stir in the sour cream. Using a large spatula, fold in the crushed pineapple and juice, bananas and pecans. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake the cakes in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, rotating the pans after 20 minute, until the cakes are golden brown and cake tester comes out clean in the middle. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Place a rack over each pan, invert the cakes onto the racks and remove the pans. Peel off the parchment paper. Cool completely.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachement, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium high speed until smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl, beating until smooth. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla paste.
- Using a bread knife, trim the domed tops of the cakes so they are flat. Set one layer on a cake stand and spread with the frosting. Continue to stack and frost the layers, then spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake as the base coat.
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until set. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the sides and top of the cake. Decorate the outer circumference of the top of the cake with whole pecans and rose petals. Slice and serve.
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