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Hummingbird Cake — A super SOFT and moist cake with bananas, pineapple, coconut, cream cheese frosting, and pecans!! Makes a huge cake that’ll feed a crowd! If you like banana bread, you will LOVE this cake! Put this EASY retro gem on your baking list!!
What Is Hummingbird Cake?
The first recorded hummingbird cake recipe was published in 1978 by Southern Living magazine and came from North Carolina. It’s a soft, banana and pineapple-laden cake with a healthy dose of tangy cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of pecan halves.
Notably, the cake uses oil rather than butter. I almost always prefer oil to butter in cakes. I don’t have to cream the butter, which is a time-saving bonus plus I find oil keeps cakes moister.
And this is an extremely moist cake thanks not only to the oil, but also the can of crushed pineapple with the juice included, and from four ripe bananas. If you like banana bread, you will love this hummingbird bundt cake. Your bananas don’t have to be borderline black, just nicely ripened and soft.
Rather than using pecans in the cake batter like most recipes call for, I used sweetened shredded coconut. This may not be traditional, but it sure was tasty.
I used 1 cup of coconut and in most cases this could dominate the flavor profile but because of all the bananas and the pineapple, the coconut wasn’t too noticeable. It did complement the overall flavor and we really enjoyed it.
I sprinkled pecans on top of the cake for a bit of crunch, but not too much. I really wanted the actual cake to be super soft, sans nuts, and that’s what I got.
What’s in Hummingbird Cake?
To make this hummingbird bundt cake recipe, you’ll need:
- Ripe bananas
- Crushed pineapple
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Vegetable oil
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Ground cloves
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
And to make the cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:
- Cream cheese
- Unsalted butter
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Toasted chopped pecans (for topping)
How to Make Hummingbird Cake
Spray a 14-cup bundt pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour. Then, beat the bananas until mashed and beat in the crushed pineapple with juice, coconut, eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Turn the batter into your prepared pan and bake until done (about an hour).
Allow the hummingbird cake to cool completely before topping with cream cheese frosting.
Do I Have to Bake This as a Bundt Cake?
Not necessarily, no. This cake makes a ton of batter and it will feed a crowd. You will see when you’re mixing it up just how much batter you’re working with. Make sure you use your biggest mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
There was so much cake batter that it did not all fit in my 12-cup Bundt pan and after filling it to between 2/3 and 3/4-full, I filled an 8×4-inch loaf pan to the same height. Both the Bundt and the loaf took 49 minutes to bake.
If you have a 14-cup Bundt pan, the batter may all likely fit. Additionally, you can make three 9-inch layer cakes and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Or you could make two 9×5-inch loaves, although this is my least favorite option because the batter is so heavy and wet and I worry about the loaves cooking through completely in the center before the top and sides are overly browned. This is a problem that plagues dense banana bread batters and this batter reminded me of that. But you could tent the pan about 45 minutes into baking and then bake until done. I am guessing at least 60-70 minutes.
The only option I have personally tested in the 12-cup Bundt + 8×4-inch loaf so cannot speak for the other options firsthand, but am making educated guesses with regard to the volume of batter, various pan options, and approximate baking times; your mileage may vary.
Can I Add Pecans to the Cake Batter?
If you want to use pecans in the cake like most recipes call for, I would use 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped and toasted pecans (350F for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant), and add them in the recipe when you would have added the coconut. And omit the coconut or use only 1/2 cup.
Can I Omit the Nuts Altogether?
If you’re baking this for people who don’t like nuts or are allergic to nuts, you can successfully leave them out.
Can I Substitute the Coconut?
If you also want to leave out the coconut, that’s fine too. You may need to add an additional 1/2 cup flour, but I am not sure since I haven’t tested that. If the batter is at all thin, I would add the extra flour because it should be a dense batter.
Tips for Making the Best Hummingbird Cake
This is a very flexible batter and based on your pan options and oven space, you’ve got plenty of options.
Don’t fill any pan more than 3/4 full or it will likely overflow.
Keep an eye on things and bake until done, whatever that means on the clocks, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- 4 medium ripe bananas (about 2 cups mashed bananas)
- one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, loosely packed to measure
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans, optional for garnishing
Make the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 14-cup Bundt pan very well with floured cooking spray; or grease and flour the pan. See Note 1 below about pan options and considerations. Unless you have a huge 14-cup Bundt pan, you will likely need to bake some of the additional batter in a loaf pan or make three 9-inch round cakes. Read the Note in detail.
- To a very large bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the bananas and beat them with a handheld electric mixer or with the paddle attachment until they're mashed.
- Add the pineapple with juice, coconut, eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and beat on medium-high speed to incorporate.
- Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat until just combined. Turn batter out in prepared pan(s), don't fill any pan more than 2/3 to 3/4-full, and bake until done.
- Baking Time Approximations: About 1 hour for a 14-cup Bundt, about 46 to 50 minutes for a 12-cup Bundt + one 8x4-inch loaf (this was what I did and baked both for 49 minutes), about 25 to 30 minutes for three 9-inch round cakes, and about 60-70 minutes for two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Baking times will obviously vary based on your pan setup.
- Allow cakes/loafs to cool in pans for about 20 minutes before turning out and allowing them to cool fulling on a wire rack or cake stand. Don't add the frosting until completely cooled.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
- To a large bowl or to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, butter, and beat together on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add 2 cups confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and beat to combine. Based on the desired consistency of the frosting, add additional confectioners' sugar, if necessary.
- Add frosting to the top perimeter of the cake, or as desired. If you have additional frosting (likely), it will keep airtight in the fridge for many weeks for another baking project.
- Optionally garnish with pecans before serving.
- Frosted cake will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. Unfrosted cake/loaves will keep airtight at room temp for up to 5 days. Unfrosted cakes/loaves will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living.
1. The cake batter did not fit in my 12-cup Bundt pan and after filling it to between 2/3 and 3/4-full, I filled an 8x4-inch loaf pan to the same height. Both the Bundt and loaf took 49 minutes to bake.
If you have a 14-cup Bundt pan, the batter may all likely fit.
Additionally, you could make three 9-inch layer cakes and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Or you could make two 9x5-inch loafs although this is my least favorite option because the batter is so heavy and wet and I worry about them cooking through completely in the center before the top and sides are overly browned, but you could tent the pan about 45 minutes into baking and then bake until done. I am guessing at least 60-70 minutes.
The only option I have personally tested in the 12-cup Bundt + 8x4-inch loaf so cannot speak for the other options firsthand, but am making educated guesses with regard to the volume of batter, various pan options, and approximate baking times; your mileage may vary.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 447Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 229mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 2gSugar: 59gProtein: 5g
Although this is by no means health food, I believe the stats are a bit artificially high because it's unlikely you will need all of the frosting that the recipe makes but it's better to have a bit extra than be a bit short.
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