If you never had a hummingbird cake, allow me to describe it for you.
Imagine the best tasting banana bread you've ever had. The sweet, light, moist texture that melts in your mouth. Now, add some coconut, toasted pecans and sweet pineapple, all spiced to perfection with cinnamon and nutmeg, and layered with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. It is sublime.
I first heard about the hummingbird cake in Karen Morgan's Blackbird Bakery cookbook. The description sounded so enticing I had to try it for myself. I'll admit, this is not a quick cake to make. It's easy and doesn't even require a stand mixer, but there are a lot of ingredients in it. But it is the most unbelievable cake I have ever had, and nothing will ever compare to the magic that is the hummingbird cake. And it is gluten-free.
I've made it several times. Because of the moisture in the fruit the texture is soft, light, and moist. The pecans, almond flour and coconut adds another dimension of texture that is absolutely perfect. You can make it a couple days in advance and it will stay just as good, which makes it perfect to serve over the holidays.
This recipe is not mine. I did try to simplify it with a gf flour mix, and it was still very good, but didn't have the soft, light texture from the original recipe. So, I am giving you Blackbirds recipe per vadum, because why mess with perfection?
I'm taking this opportunity to also recommend The Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free cookbook by Karen Morgan. Karen is a genius pastry chef and her recipes are out of this world. If you are serious about baking and want to up your game this book is a must. You can also buy their ready to bake flour mixes.
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons guar gum
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup pecans
2 very ripe bananas
1 cup canned crushed pineapple (in juice, not syrup)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon pur vanilla extract
1 cup safflower oil
3 large eggs beaten
1 cup shredded coconut
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter (4oz)
2 packs cream cheese 8oz each
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Makes one 8 inch layer cake.
1. Preheat oven to 350F and position an oven rack in the center of the oven.
2. Butter two 8-inch cake pans. Line each with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.
3. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients including sugar and spices. Stir well to combine.
4. Place the pecans in a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and chop the pecans.
5. In another large bowl mash the banana with a fork, add the pineapple (no need to drain the juice), agave, and vanilla. stir until smooth.
6. Add the safflower oil and eggs to the dry ingredients and pour in the pineapple mix.
7. Add the chopped pecans and stir the batter until fully combined.
8. Fold in the coconut, just until combined.
9. Divide the batter between the two buttered cake pans and smooth the tops.
10. Cover each pan with tin foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pans. Remove from pans when cakes are cooled.
12. Place one cake on a cake stand (try to level the surface with a knife if needed) and evenly spread 3/4 of the frosting, covering the entire surface. Level the frosting and top with the second layer.
13. Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let it set. (this will keep the crumbs from touching the final layer of frosting)
14. Remove from the fridge and continue to frost the cake, starting with the sides, then the top.
15. Smooth out the frosting and with the back of a small spoon lightly tap the frosting to create small peaks
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Place the butter in a bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until fluffy.
2. Add the cream cheese and continue beating until smooth and velvety (about 1 minute)
3. Turn off the mixer and add 1/3 of the sugar. Turn the mixer on low (so not to make a mess) and beat for 10 seconds. Repeat with the second and third parts of the sugar.
4. Increase the speed to medium-high and and beat for another minute until very smooth.
5. Add the vanilla and beat just until incorporated.
The frosting will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Mix well with a spatula before using.