Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hummingbird Cake

I apologize for the lack of posts recently.  I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed.  You see, both my sister and my cousin are getting married within a month of each other.  This leads to lots of showers, parties, and more!  Luckily the only event I actually had to PLAN was the bachelorette party because it was in my town (and I had a some help).  But I’ve still been traveling to Kentucky frequently on the weekends for other showers.  My aunt offered to throw showers for my sister & cousin.  She did a great job planning, decorating, and preparing the food.  She did ask for my help for the cakes.  For my sister’s shower, she wanted a tropical/luau theme.  I quickly suggested a Hummingbird cake.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had it, but I had definitely heard of it.  I knew it was similar to a carrot cake (which I love), but with pineapple & banana instead, so that seemed like the perfect tropical flavor for the shower.  My aunt also asked me if I knew how to work with fondant, and if I could make flowers.  I quickly shot that down!  My “style” is more natural.  I immediately knew I wanted to try to make the dried pineapple flowers I’d seen quite a while ago on TheKitchn.

Left: The towel cake my aunt made.  Doesn’t it look like a wedding cake?

Right: A bit of the spread, before ALL the rest of the food was added!

This cake required 3 different steps of preparation: the cake, the frosting, the dried pineapples.  Due to my work schedule I am unable to do any of this on Wednesday or Thursday.  The shower was Saturday, and I wouldn’t have time to do anything that day, as I’d be driving out of town.  I’m pretty slow when it comes to making something like this.  So, to take some of the pressure off I decided to bake the cake on Monday, when I had more time.  Here’s a little hint, bake it, let it cool, wrap it in wax paper, then double wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer.  I promise you it will retain it’s original texture & flavor, and no one will know the difference!  The cake thawed just fine, and was still very moist.

Now, here is a very important second tip.  DON’T WAIT UNTIL 9PM TO BEGIN THE DRYING OF THE PINEAPPLE FLOWERS.  Ok?  Unless you ENJOY waking up at 1am to check on them.  (Especially because it’s a near miracle for me to actually be able to fall asleep before that time.)  The flowers take a couple hours to dry in the oven, and then they need to cool and dry more in the open air.  My suggestion is to begin this in the morning or afternoon!

Everyone really enjoyed this cake.  Of course there were many compliments on the pineapple flowers, but also on the flavor & moistness of the cake.  I’ll admit, when taking the cakes out of the pans, I was worried it would be dry and stiff, perhaps more like banana bread texture.  I was definitely pleased upon my first bite to find it moist and delicious.  The tang of the cream cheese was the perfect frosting to counter the sweet cake.  And as someone who is a reformed nut-hater, I really enjoyed the walnuts in this cake, but of course you can always leave them out (especially if concerned for a nut allergy).  This is a cake I would definitely look forward to making again.  I think of it in romantic Southern terms, like as the centerpiece of a lovely summer garden party.

Finally, if you’re wondering how to decorate the edges with walnuts, all I can say is “palm & press”.  Haha… I just grab a handful, and with a swift flip of the wrist press them into the cake.  I just hope you don’t mind a bit of a mess!  They don’t all make it on there on the first attempt.  I like to lay down a sheet of wax paper, that way the nuts that don’t make it onto the cake are easy to collect.


Hummingbird Cake

from Southern Living

dried pineapples adapted from Martha Stewart, as seen on TheKitchn.


For cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 pineapple



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.

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper.

Peel pineapple. Using a small melon baller, remove and discard "eyes." Slice pineapple very thinly; place slices on baking sheets. Cook until tops look dried, about 30 minutes (mine took nearly an hour). Flip slices; cook until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more (again, mine took longer, so be prepared). Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.

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