The bakery style Hummingbird Cake is one of those beloved tried and true cake recipes that generations of Southerners have both made and enjoyed. It’s a dense made-from-scratch banana infused cake that’s filled with both crushed pineapple and toasted pecans. The crowning touch is the sweet cream cheese frosting that takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness.
Where Did the Hummingbird Cake Recipe Originate?
Hummingbird layer cake first achieved popularity after it was submitted to Southern Living Magazine in February of 1978, by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro North Carolina. I’m super proud that this beloved Southern classic was created right here in my neck of the woods. No explanation was given for the unique name however, it didn’t keep this rich banana-pineapple cake from achieving the title of the most requested recipe in the history of Southern Living Magazine. Quite a culinary feat, wouldn’t you say? Through the years, many cooks have put their own spin on this decadent cream cheese frosted cake. I want to pay homage to the incredible homemaker and baker from right here in my neighborhood, by featuring the original version of this all-time Southern favorite.
How to Make Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe
- Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Hummingbird Cake: All purpose flour, salt, baking soda, granulated sugar, cinnamon, crushed pineapple, toasted chopped pecans, vegetable oil, large eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana.
- For the Cream Cheese Frosting you’ll need: Softened plain cream cheese, salted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract.
- Kitchen tools you’ll need: A large bowl, a medium bowl, a whisk (a stand mixer or a hand mixer are optional for the cake but helpful for making the frosting), measuring cups and spoons, three 9 inch cake pans.
- How do you serve Hummingbird Cake? Traditional Hummingbird Cake is typically served as a layer cake. That said, it can be made into a sheet cake, if you prefer. I love it as a classic layer cake, but at times a layer cake can be a challenge to transport to another location.
- To bake this Hummingbird Cake as a sheet cake: Prepare the cake batter per the recipe. Pour prepared batter into a greased 13 x 9 inch cake pan and bake it for 30-40 minutes. Check the center with a toothpick or cake tester for doneness and increase the bake time in 5 minute increments from that point.
- Can I make Hummingbird Cupcakes with this recipe? Yes, it can also be made into cupcakes. When doing so, bake them in a standard size cupcake pan for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes back clean.
- Do I have to toast the pecans for hummingbird cake? It’s well worth the small amount of effort it takes to toast the pecans prior to adding them to the batter and the frosting.
- How do I store Southern Hummingbird Cake? Store frosted cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.
- To save time you can bake, cool and wrap the individual cake layers and freeze them until you’re ready to assemble the cake. Thaw frozen cake layers in the refrigerator overnight then frost per the recipe.
- Can I use a different kind of nut for hummingbird cake? You can also use walnuts in place of the pecans, if you prefer. Regardless, whatever way you choose to make it, you’ll be the dessert hero every single time.
More Southern Cakes to Make
We love our big beautiful cakes here in the South and among them there are several that reign supreme. Make these cakes once, and you’ll be hooked.
- One is a rich cream cheese frosted Red Velvet Layer Cake.
- The other a classic vanilla pound cake cake dubbed Million Dollar Pound Cake. It’s one of the best pound cake recipes you’ll ever bake.
- German Chocolate Cake is slathered with my version of coconut pecan icing using brown sugar for depth of flavor.
- Pig Pickin’ Cake is an easy cake that anyone can make.
- Southern style scratch made Coconut Layer Cake.
- Best ever Chocolate Layer Cake.
- You may also enjoy my recipe for Hummingbird Poke Cake and these Hummingbird Pancakes as seen on Southern Living.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- 3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
- 1 8 oz can crushed pineapple undrained
- 2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts divided
- 2 cup chopped banana [or chunky mashed]
- 2 8 oz packages cream cheese softened
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 2 16 oz boxes powdered sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3  inch cake pans, set aside.
- Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the beaten eggs and vegetable oil. Mix by hand until moistened, do not beat.
- Stir in the pure vanilla extract , crushed pineapple, 1 cup of nuts and the chopped or chunky mashed banana. Stir again until fully combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Place into the oven and bake for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting: Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light, fluffy and pale yellow in color. Add the vanilla.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until creamy and smooth.
- Frost the cake between the layers first, then top and sides.
- Sprinkle with the remaining chopped nuts.
- Store refrigerated.
b) The original recipe calls for chopped bananas. Roughly mashed bananas will also work in this cake.
c) If needed, add heavy cream, half & half or whole milk 1 Tbsp at a time to thin the frosting to spreading consistency.