Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake main

I finally got around to baking a Hummingbird Cake! Yay me! Now, some of you are probably saying, what in the world is a Hummingbird Cake? Well, I would have said the same thing a few years ago but, since then, I have had a piece in almost every restaurant that advertises it in the Florida Keys. I kept telling myself I was going to make one day, and it would be even better than any I had tasted, and that day finally came. And I couldn’t be happier with the results (although my waistline might complain a little because it’s so hard to resist!).

The cake turned out rich, spicy, a little nutty and full of the fruity goodness of bananas and pineapple. It’s a tropical treat not to be missed!

Hummingbird Cake whole

Believe it or not, this recipe has no birds in it (bet you could have guessed that) but is unusual in the fact that it contains more fruit than flour and uses oil instead of butter.  It is believed to have originated in Jamaica in the late 60’s, which probably explains all the banana and pineapple in the cake, and was first called the Doctor bird cake, named after the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird, their national bird. It has gathered some other quirky names through the years too! Names such as bird of paradise cake, nothing left cake, bumblebee cake, never ending cake and, the one I like, doesn’t last long cake. The cake is said to be sweet enough to attract a hummingbird, I can’t vouch for that one, but I do know that it is sweet enough to attract family and friends in its vicinity.

Hummingbird Cake square 1

The Hummingbird Cake originally traveled to the American south through the Jamaican Tourism Board who sent out recipes to attract tourists to their shores. This one hit a cord with the deep south and started its road to fame at county fairs, baking competitions, in community cookbooks and finally it’s most noted appearance in 1978, making it into a Southern classic, when it was printed in the Southern Living magazine. It has since become the most requested recipe in that magazine’s history and I can see why.

Hummingbird Cake slicing

The cake is so good you really don’t even need icing, sometimes a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar will do, but adding it brings the cake to a whole other level. It is believed that the cream cheese frosting was added to the original cake when it first made its appearance in the South, which was having a love affair with carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at the time. I think it was a fantastic idea, don’t you?! You can even jazz up the frosting by adding a splash of liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier or even a touch of your favorite bourbon. For a fresher, tangier frosting try adding the zest of limes or lemons like I did to mine. Whatever way you fix it, believe me, it won’t last long!

Hummingbird Cake

Yield: Makes 1 cake.

Hummingbird Cake


  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 ripe bananas)
  • 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnishes: 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, pecan brittle (optional)
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup butter
  • 8-oz cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar (16-oz)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 medium lime, zested & juiced
  • Pecan Brittle (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9” round cake pans with non-stick spray then line bottom with parchment paper and spray again.
  2. In a large bowl, mix coconut oil, applesauce, sugars and vanilla. Add the eggs and stir well.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and spices. Add to flour mixture alternately with coconut milk.
  4. Stir in mashed bananas, pineapple and chopped nuts, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Drop the pans, from about 6” above the counter, on to the counter to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan to wire racks and allow to cool completely.
  6. To assemble: Place one layer, top side down, on a serving plate. Spread with frosting. Place second layer on top, bottom side down, then frost entire top and sides of cake. Pat coconut into sides of cake. Scatter pecan brittle on top of cake and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  7. Frosting
  8. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar then add vanilla, lime juice and zest.
  9. Pecan Brittle
  10. Spray a piece of wax paper with non-stick spray.
  11. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add pecans and stir to coat. Add sugar and continue stirring constantly until caramelized. You may need to turn heat down slightly if nuts are getting browned too quickly. Pour onto wax paper to cool.
  12. Once cool, place in Ziploc bag, close and crush with rolling pin or a tenderizing hammer.

What’s your favorite cake to bake for a special occasion?

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Linda is a wife, mom and grandmother with a background in marketing and exercise. She attributes her creativity and love of cooking to her mom and grandmother who were always willing to let her lend a hand in the kitchen. Linda currently resides in South Florida, where she raised two children with the help of her wonderful husband. She loves living in sunny Florida with its abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood that are available year round. She even has her own banana, mango, orange and key lime trees right in her backyard. Linda started her blog, 2 Cookin’ Mamas, with her daughter Christina after the birth of her first grandchild.When Linda is not happily cooking away in her kitchen she loves traveling, the perfect inspiration for new recipes, sipping wine, photography, reading, then working it all off walking, jogging or practicing yoga.

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