Hummingbird cake is a true southern dessert. If you ask people in other parts of the country if they’ve ever had hummingbird cake, chances are they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. I have no idea where the cake originated from, but I know I’ve been enjoying it for most of my life. I guess I should add this to the list of cooking questions I need to ask my grandma.
What I do know about hummingbird cake is this – it’s a delicious combination of banana, pineapple and coconut. With all these tropical flavors, it’s no wonder why this cake is so popular during spring and summer. As far as nuts in the cake go, I love them. I grew up eating this cake with pecans, but I used the suggested walnuts this time around. You can use whichever you prefer, or skip the nuts altogether. I happen to love the texture the nuts add, but I know there are those of you out there who think nuts have no place in desserts (can we still be friends?). Either way, you’re guaranteed a moist, flavorful cupcake. When topped with the dried pineapple flowers, these cupcakes are truly gorgeous and make a perfect centerpiece for a summer dessert table.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
1⅓ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1⅓ cups mashed ripe banana
⅔ cup crushed pineapple, drained
⅔ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
⅔ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 large pineapples, peeled (for the flowers)
Heat the oven to 350º. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, vanilla and sugar and beat until blended and smooth. On low speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the mashed banana, then the dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pineapple, walnuts (if using) and coconut.
Fill each prepared liner about ¾ full of batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until combined and smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the sugar until completely incorporated. Increase the speed and continue beating until the frosting is smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
To make the pineapple flowers, heat oven to 225º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a melon baller or measuring spoon, remove the “eyes” from the pineapple. Slice as thinly as possible (we used an electric knife) and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
Bake for about 30 minutes, then flip and continue baking until the pineapple is completely dried, anywhere from 30 minutes up to an hour more. Place in cupcake pans to cool to form the flower shape. If you want to speed up the process, you can increase the heat to 300º, which will result in a deeper color. If you do this, make sure to frequently check the pineapple so that it doesn’t burn. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.