Hummingbird Cake

If you’ve never heard of it, Hummingbird cake is the most delicious, spiced banana-pineapple cake with a zesty cream cheese icing, that originates from the Southern United States. It’s so easy to make and is a real showstopper as cupcakes, a loaf or a larger centrepiece cake – perfect for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Mother’s Day… or a nice cuppa and a slice of cake in a shed. This recipe is an adaption of Jamie Oliver’s version from the Comfort Food cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 250 ml olive oil , plus extra for greasing
  • 350 g self-raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 350 g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 x 425 g tin of pineapple chunks
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50 g pecans

For the icing

  • 400 g icing sugar
  • 150 g unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 200 g cream cheese
  • Zest and juice of a lime

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Depending on whether you chose to make cupcakes, a loaf or one large cake you will need to adjust cooking times and prepare the cake pans accordingly.

  • To make a large, double layer cake – grease and line two 23cm round cake tins. Cooking time will be approximately 30 – 40 mins
  • To make 12 large cupcakes – line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cases. Cooking time will be less so check after 20 – 25 mins by inserting a skewer in the centre of a cake. If the skewer comes out clean, the cakes are ready.
  • To make a 2lb loaf – grease and line a 2lb cake tin. Cooking time will be approximately 40 – 50 mins. Check at 5 minute intervals with the skewer method.

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and a large pinch of sea salt.

Peel the bananas and mash them up with a fork in another bowl. Drain and finely chop the pineapple and add to the bananas with the oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then fold into the dry mixture until smooth.

Finely chop the pecans and gently fold in, then divide the batter evenly between your prepared tins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden and the sponges spring back when touched lightly in the centre.

Run a knife around the edge of the tins, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, to make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a free-standing electric mixer, add the butter and beat until pale and creamy.

Add the cream cheese, finely grate in the zest of 1 lime and add a squeeze of juice, then beat until just smooth – it’s really important not to over-mix it. Keep in the fridge until needed.

To assemble the cake, place one sponge on a cake stand and spread with half the icing. Top with the other sponge, spread over the rest of the icing, then grate over the zest of the remaining lime. For cupcakes and the loaf, you can pipe the icing or spread it on with a palette knife for a rustic, textured look.

Decorate

Decorate with fresh edible flowers and herbs, or sugar flowers, for an elegant and easy to achieve finish.

  • Roses
  • Pansies
  • Daisies
  • Viola
  • Calendula
  • Dahlia
  • Nasturtiums
  • Mint leaves
  • Lime zest

Wash and dry freshly picked edible flowers by dipping them in a bowl of cold water and gently shaking the excess water off. Some flowers, like pansies can be eaten whole but others contain bitter parts, so you might prefer to remove, wash and dry the petals only.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether a flower is edible or not – don’t eat it and its worth remembering that some people with pollen or other allergies might want to avoid eating them.

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