This Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe is a slice of southern sweetness in every bite. Made with crushed pineapple and mashed bananas and frosted with cream cheese frosting, this super moist cake is absolute heaven on your plate.
Have you ever heard of hummingbird cake? If you live outside of the south, you might not have. We hadn’t heard of it until we stumbled across an article about it online years ago. When we read the ingredients, we knew we had to make it, and we’re so glad we did. This old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe is so sweet, moist, and heavenly that we just can’t get enough of it.
Believe me this incredibly good cake does not disappoint!
Jamaican Cake with a Southern Twist
The thing that’s so interesting to us about hummingbird cake is that it’s famous across North America as an almost signature dessert of the deep south. However, it’s actually a Jamaican recipe!
This banana and apple spice cake is called Doctor Bird Cake in Jamaica, named after the island’s national bird, the scissors-tail hummingbird. It was a staple in the country for years before the Jamaica Tourist Board exported it and several other recipes to the USA in media press kits in 1968. It’s likely that the cake caught on in the south so readily because that’s the area where Jamaica would have targeted its press due to the south’s close proximity to the island.
The first known American recipe for hummingbird cake is in a February 1978 issue of Southern Living, so the cake is very young by culinary standards.
This cake might have come from Jamaica, but if you live in North America, you know it as a southern staple. If you’ve ever traveled to the south, you’ve probably encountered it at a restaurant – it seems to be in almost every downhome eating establishment you’ll find in the south.
However you slice it (I had to), one thing’s for sure. This is one of the most delicious cakes we’ve ever made, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe
This old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe may create a three-layered cake, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a hard recipe to make. It’s actually very easy. I liken it to making a layered banana bread almost. The cake recipe is simple, as is the frosting. It only TASTES complicated.
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe Ingredients
This is a completely homemade cake, and as such there are a few ingredients needed for it. However, they’re all pantry staples. We wouldn’t be surprised if you have every single thing you need to make this cake in your kitchen right this second. Here’s what you’ll need.
For the Cake
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Vegetable oil
- Crushed pineapple, undrained
- Mashed bananas
- Roasted pecans
For the Frosting
- Cream cheese, room temperature
- Butter, room temperature
- Powdered sugar
That’s all there is to it! For a completely from-scratch cake, there aren’t that many ingredients to this one at all. You’ll probably be able to raid your pantry and find everything you need.
Making the Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe
Making this cake is just as simple as the ingredient list. Unlike some cakes, you don’t have to be so careful with how you add the ingredients, and there aren’t a ton of steps. It’s mostly a matter of mixing the wet and dry ingredients, adding them together, baking, and frosting. It’s just that simple!
You’ll find the complete recipe with amounts and cooking times in the recipe card, but these highlights we give you an idea of just how incredibly easy this old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe really is.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together.
- Cream eggs, oil, vanilla, crushed pineapple, and mashed bananas in a separate bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.
- Pour into three cake pans and bake.
- Let cakes cool for a bit and then remove from the pans to a wire rack.
- Frost completely cooled cake.
It’s just that easy! We venture to say that it’s the easiest layer cake you’ll ever make.
Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe Tips
This is a super easy cake recipe, to be sure, however, if you’ve never made a cake completely from scratch before, there are a few things you should know. These tips will help ensure that you avoid the most common mistakes when it comes to making cakes, allowing you to make the absolute best hummingbird cake you possibly can.
Room Temperature Cream Cheese and Butter
It’s important to have your cream cheese and butter at room temperature before creaming. This allows the butter and cream cheese to incorporate so easily without any sort of lumps.
Very Ripe Bananas
For this recipe, or any banana recipe, really, you want your bananas to be very ripe. Obviously, you don’t want them to have gone bad, but they should be riper than you would normally choose for eating. Super ripe bananas have a better texture for baking, and they have more sugar than just-ripe bananas.
Only Frost When the Cake is Cool
It is vital that you let the cake cool completely before doing any frosting work. If the cake is warm at all, it will cause the frosting to get runny, making it impossible for the frosting to stick to the cake.
Leveling the Cake
This type of cake batter usually cooks up uniformly because it has a dense texture, but sometimes, the cake tops will round up as they bake. If this happens, simply take a serrated knife and level the cakes by cutting off the rounded portion. This will allow the cake layers to lie flat.
Serving the Cake
This cake is absolutely superb just as it is. All you need to serve it is a plate and a fork! As for where and when to serve it, the answer is anywhere! This cake is absolutely delicious. It’s easy enough to whip up for a weekend dessert and fancy enough to bring to any special occasion from potlucks to holiday get-togethers.
It makes the perfect addition to an Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas table, so there’s literally never a wrong place to bring this cake!
Storing the Cake
This old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week in an air-tight container. Some people leave it at room temperature, but it’s only good for about two days, and even then, we don’t love to keep recipes made with dairy products unrefrigerated.
For longer storage, you can also freeze this cake. In fact, it freezes very well. One of the easiest ways to freeze the cake is to allow it to chill completely in the refrigerator and then cut it up into slices. Wrap the slices in cling wrap and then place them in heavy-duty freezer bags.
Before you dive into this delicious old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe, let’s look at the highlights. Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure you have a smooth sailing when you make this cake.
Why do I have to bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature?
We get it. No one likes to wait. However, bringing these ingredients to room temperature ensures that you get the smoothest finished product possible.
My frosting is sliding off the cake. What am I doing wrong?
You probably tried to frost your cake while it was still warm. When cold frosting hits a warm cake, the frosting will liquefy. When that happens, the frosting simply slides off the cake.
Why do I have to refrigerate this cake?
Strictly speaking, you can leave this cake at room temperature for about two days, but we don’t recommend it. This recipe uses a cream cheese frosting. It’s dairy, and dairy really should be refrigerated to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Refrigerating the cake also allows you to store it for a week rather than two days.
You’ll Love This Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe
You, your family, and your guests are going to love this old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe. They’ll love it because it’s so delicious, and you’ll love it because it’s so easy. It’s a win, win all the way around. Try this recipe for a weekend dessert or bring it to your next big get-together. It’s always a hit!
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This old fashioned hummingbird cake recipe is a slice of the south in every bite! It's chock full of classic flavors that you'll love.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 3 ripe bananas mashed
- 1 cup roasted pecans, chopped fine
- 2 (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray (3) 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Set to the side for later.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powdered, salt, and cinnamon.
In another bowl cream together eggs, oil, vanilla, crushed pineapple, and mashed bananas.
Pour the flour mixture into the wet and mix just until incorporated.
Evenly pour batter into 3 cake pans. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cakes cool for about 25 minutes then remove from the pans and put on a cooling rack. Then let cakes cool completely before frosting.
Once cakes are cool frost the cakes.
Refrigerate the cake for up to 3 days.