Hummingbird Cake

hummingbird cake 6

Have you ever heard of Hummingbird Cake?

Well – it is one of my Dad’s faves…

So I decided I was going to give it a try for his birthday.

hummingbird cake 2

This sweet, dense, banana, pineapple and pecan smothered cake is not for the faint of heart!  A thin slice goes a long way!

It reminds me of carrot cake with its thick layers of cream cheese frosting between the three layers of decadent delightfulness.

But WHY is it called Hummingbird Cake?

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Considering the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple – this famously southern cake is thought to have been invented in Jamaica in the late 1960s.

It was originally called the “Doctor Bird Cake,” nicknamed after a Jamaican variety of hummingbird called the Red-billed Streamertail. The name came from the way the bird’s long beak probes flowers, like a doctor inspecting a patient.

But what does that have to do with a pineapple and banana cake?  According to Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver’s website, some say the cake was named after the bird because it was sweet enough to attract hummingbirds (who eat only nectar), while others say the yellow streaks of banana are reminiscent of the bird’s plumage.

In 1968, the Jamaican tourist board decided to try attracting tourists by sending out press kits to the US. In the packs were a few recipes from the island, including one for the Doctor Bird Cake. Shortly thereafter, similar recipes started to crop up in local papers and community cookbooks across the South.

Most food historians agree the first printed recipe for Hummingbird cake was by Mrs. L. H. Wiggin. She supplied the recipe to Southern Living magazine in February 1978.  Even before then, however, there were countless references to the cake in county fair reports and baking competitions across Southern America.

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This is a really lovely special occasion cake for that someone special in your life.

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And it freezes well to save individual servings for just when you need that something special for a guest or yourself.

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I sure enjoyed sharing a slice with Dad and Mom II and hubby yesterday – and then leaving the rest with them, so I am not tempted to eat more!

I’d love to hear if you are familiar with this cake or if you make it and how it differs from the recipe I found that is the “Most requested recipe in Southern Living Magazine history.”

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:hummingbird cake 3

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped ripe bananas
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 2 (8-ounce) pkgs cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 (32-ounce) bag powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine dry 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 cake pans. 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.

While cake is cooling, prepare cream cheese frosting by combining softened cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until creamy.  Slowly add powdered sugar until incorporated and desired consistency.  Stir in vanilla until combined.

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

Enjoy this special cake!

Cheers & Hugs,


37 thoughts on “Hummingbird Cake

  1. Decadent and sweet, not for the faint of heart

    We tried this a couple of years ago and just loved it. The recipe I followed had coconut on it which was appropriate for the island theme. But hubby won’t eat coconut so we put nuts all over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I bet coconut would be a great add for this. I feel like I’ve heard of it. I think it’s hummingbird bread I’ve heard of. I used to make a Hawaiian bread when I was on gluten that had pineapple in it. Everyone loved that. I bet this one is really good too. Definitely a work of art, Jodi! Have a great week. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mimi! I always enjoy your recipes. And you know I am totally jealous that you’ve been to visit Stephane – not once – but twice! 🙂 LOL! I hope to someday. What a joy that would be! My French Heaven!


  3. Your cake looks too beautiful to eat, Jodi! Like the pansies you added! I enjoyed reading about how the cake got its name. I have never heard of a Hummingbird Cake! So sweet to make this cake for your dad! ❤️🎂❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmmmmm, I LOVE hummingbird cake, but I lost my recipe a long time ago, so it is nice to see it here! I made one for a church bake-off, put it in the oven, and after I shut the door, I noticed the bananas still sitting on the counter! I took the pans out of the oven, “stirred” in the bananas, and stuck them back in. It won first prize!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Watercolor Hummingbird Card | life in between

  6. I have a ‘secret’ recipe from a Friend who’s Mom was born in South Carolina. It was her Great Grandmother’s!!
    This recipe is very close to hers…she also included coconut when available. If pineapple was not available she left it out!! I don’t know what she would substitute for the pineapple as I imagine that’s what makes the cake moist.
    This is the ultimate cake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really must be quite a southern traditional recipe. I learned so much after making it. And it is so decadent and special. Thanks for sharing your story about it! I would love coconut in it!!!


  7. Pingback: A Slice of Pineapple in Watercolor | life in between

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