What is hummingbird cake? Before this week, I had never heard of this dessert until my coworker mentioned it. Hummingbird cake is a banana pineapple spiced cake, often served with cream cheese frosting. It’s a traditional Southern dessert since the mid 19th century (Wikipedia). I was intrigued because it’s supposed to taste like a cross between cake and banana bread. I decided to make a cupcake version with a recipe I found on Pinterest. It was delicious and I absolutely loved the dried pineapple flower – isn’t it so pretty?
Hummingbird Cupcakes recipe (yields 24 cupcakes):
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 11 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 bananas)
- 2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used “Let’s Do…Organic” brand from Whole Foods)
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
- 3-3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Dried pineapple flowers, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, vanilla, and sugar; beat until blended and smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the mashed banana. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Gently fold in the pineapple, walnuts, and coconuts with a spatula until evenly mixed.
- Fill prepared liners with cake batter, a little over 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes (use toothpick test).
- Once ready, let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting: cream the butter, cream cheese, extracts and salts in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated and beat on medium-high until completely smooth.
- Frost cupcakes and garnish with dried pineapple flower, if desired. The flowers are edible, but serve more as a garnish.
- I did not use coconut extract in my frosting because I didn’t have any – this was perfectly okay. I also used less powdered sugar because it was starting to taste a little too sweet (even for me!). Always taste-test your creation along the way!
- The dried pineapple garnish was pretty difficult to make. I found it easier to use a serrated knife to achieve very thin slices. Other reviewers suggested using a meat slicer.
- If you don’t have an hour plus overnight to dry the pineapple slices, you can bake them at a higher temperature (350 degrees) for a shorter time. Just keep a careful eye on them to avoid burning the edges like I did. Also, pat dry the pineapple slices before baking them, if they are very juicy.
- If you don’t want to use the pineapple garnish, simple white sprinkles or chopped nuts on white frosting is a pretty look for cupcakes in my opinion.
- I used a flower tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
- Feel free to substitute walnuts with pecan nuts, which is a common ingredient in hummingbird cake.
This hummingbird cake is complex with so many elements, but it was delicious especially with the cream cheese frosting. If you love tropical foods like banana and pineapple and you’re a sweets fan, definitely give this recipe a try!