Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I remember shortly after I met Kiwi we found ourselves pushing an oversized shopping cart down the aisles of Home Depot. He looked at me with this shocked “I swore I’d never be this person” look. And then we bought some house plants.

Ahhhh, the things you swore you’d never do. Parenting is full of them. We swore we’d never go on a “family” vacation. (We were going to the be the ones to climb Kilimanjaro with our two year old, yes we were!) And then we went on a cruise. Ahoy. We swore we’d never sell our four-storey downtown loft house to move to one of those neighbourhoods with “good schools”. But that lofthouse? Yup, going onto the market next week. And my favourite one: we pinky swore we’d never ever indulge our child’s obsession with any of those “characters”. And then came these:


And this:


And these:



Yes, our little Bean turned two this week and had only one request: “Elmo Hupcakes”. How could a mother refuse? And obviously if you are making Elmo cupcakes, you must also buy a life size Elmo helium balloon. Obviously. I am hiking up my mom jeans as I write this!

The Elmo cupcakes were a hit with the Bean’s palaminos. Little did they know they were actually these carrot and apple filled Morning Glory Muffins, disguised. Mom psyche.

While the kiddos struggled with whether to start with the eyes or the fur, their parents snacked on a highly sophisticated Elmo-adorned Hummingbird cake, comme ca:


What’s a Hummingbird cake you ask? It’s three layers of pineapple-studded banana cake sandwiching cream cheese icing.  A Southern thing, I am told. Y’all. The Hummingbird Cake was entirely experimental (generally not advisable when you are expecting a crowd!), and overwhelmingly successful (phew!). Pretty, moist, tasty, low fat (cough). So successful was this experiment that I have had numerous requests for the recipe. Hence this blog post.

I can’t take credit for this recipe–it’s just lightly adapted from the pages of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. No sense in messing with a good thing, I say.

Don’t be intimidated by the whole layering thing–the hardest part is finding space to store three cake pans. The rest is dead easy, and the result will score you kudos from all corners. Something about layer cakes just makes people so darned impressed. And what the heck is the point of a kid’s birthday party if not to impress the other moms? That is the point, right?

Happy and healthy cake baking to you all. And for the record, I swear that I will never drive a minivan. Ever.

Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 10-12 slices

This recipe is lightly adapted from the pages of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. You can make the layers in advance of your event, and throw them in the freezer. They will defrost in no time when you need them.


  • For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed banana (about 4 large ones)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup drained canned pineapple tidbits (drain first, then measure)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • For the icing:
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-250 gram (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, cold


  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. For the cake: Prepare three 8-inch round baking tins by lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper. You can cut the perfect sized piece of parchment by tracing the bottom of your tin and then cutting slightly inside the traced line.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using an electric hand mixer or a whisk, beat together the sugar, eggs, oil and mashed bananas until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the cinnamon, flour, salt and baking soda.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, beating to incorporate. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the pineapple tidbits and pecans (if using) by hand.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, smooth out the batter, and pop them into the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cakes to cool for about 10-20 minutes, loosen the edge from the tin using a butter knife or spatula, and then flip each cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Once cool, you can wrap the layers individually and freeze until you need them (they take very little time to defrost) or ice them up right away.
  9. For the icing: Slowly beat the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. When the butter and sugar are fully combined, add the cream cheese and beat slowly until just incorporated. Then increase the speed to high and beat the whole mixture until it is light and fluffy. The original recipe said this would take about five minutes, but I beat it for more like two or three and it was perfect.
  10. To ice the cake: Place one layer on a large plate or cake stand and spread a thin layer of icing onto it. Top with the second layer and then repeat for the third. Coat the entire cake in a thin layer of icing to seal in the crumbs and then slop on the remaining icing nice and thick, and try to make it all as smooth and pretty as possible. The reality is, once your guests taste the cake, they won't care how it looks. So don't sweat it!

6 Responses to Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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