Hummingbird Cake – Recipe

No hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this cake.

The hummingbird cake is basically the banana cake's exotic cousin, typically made with bananas, crushed pineapple and chopped nuts, and it's one of my favourite cakes ever. I first ate one made by a company called Galeta, who sell at various markets and provide for quite a few cafés in London (including Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium). As well as banana and pineapple, it also had mango and passion fruit, making it one hell of a mouth party.

Having never made a cake with so many squishy fruits and being worried about texture, I decided to try a pre-rested recipe first and experiment another time (and as usual, ended up experimenting and adapting the recipe anyway). I found a recipe for hummingbird cake on the BBC Food website that used mangoes and passion fruit like Galeta's cake, but balked at the amount of sugar and oil in it. Surely a cake with so many damp, sweet fruits didn't need so much?? So I ended up cutting the sugar by 70g and halving the oil to 100ml (and added the pulp from an extra passion fruit, just in case).

It worked.

I also used self raising flour instead of plain plus baking soda, and all pecans instead of pecans and walnuts because I'm a little allergic to the latter (not enough to kill me, but enough to make life mildly unpleasant). I used orange oil instead of zest because I didn't have any oranges on hand, but you can use either.

If you're worried about the cake not being sweet enough because of the reduction of sugar, I have three words for you: cream cheese frosting. I kept the recipe from BBC's hummingbird cake recipe more or less the same, just reducing the sugar a little, but used a slightly different technique to ensure the frosting stayed firm and didn't become runny (cream cheese frosting gets runny is you over-beat it, because it causes the water in it to bleed out and thin the whole thing). So if your cream cheese frosting always turns runny, try my method.

Ingredients for Cake:

-250g self raising flour
-180g caster sugar
-1tsp cinnamon
-3 eggs, beaten
-100ml vegetable oil
-100g roughly chopped pecan nuts
-2 very ripe bananas, mashed
-1 large ripe mango, mashed
-85g crushed pineapple (found with the tinned fruit in the supermarket)
-3 passion fruits, pulp only (pass through sieve and discard the seeds)
-1/2tsp orange oil OR zest of 1 orange

Ingredients for Frosting:

-200g cold full fat cream cheese (medium or low fat will result in watery icing)
-50g unsalted butter, softened
-300g icing sugar


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line two 8" round cake tins.

2) Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl (flour, sugar, cinnamon and nuts), and with a wooden spoon stir in all of the other ingredients. No need for an electric whisk: stirring by hand actually gives a better texture for this cake.

3) Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. You may need to cover the cakes with foil after about 35mins to stop the tops from burning.

4) Remove from the oven and cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

5) To make the cream cheese frosting, cream the sugar and butter together thoroughly (I just used a wooden spoon for this).

6) Gently stir in the cold cream cheese until just combined, and put the frosting in the fridge until you need it to keep it firm.

7) When the cakes are cold, sandwich them together and cover with your frosting: I coat the sides as well as the top to keep the outside of the cake from drying out.

8) Decorate as you like: as you can see, I put some pecans on top as neat little slice markers, but sprinkling over more chopped nuts or orange zest is pretty, too.



Popular Posts