Why Hummingbird Cake?
An all time Southern American favourite, the hummingbird cake made its first appearance in Southern Living Magazine in 1978.
What might have started as a variation on a simple banana cake, submitted to the magazine by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins, soon became one of the most sort after desserts around the southern states.
A beautiful cake filled with banana, crushed pineapple, coconut, ground cinnamon and ginger is light yet moist and flavourful. In a typical American fashion, the cake is decorated with a cream cheese icing, not to mention the essential iced layer in the middle.
This cake is a must for the warmer months ahead; with its tropical flair it is sure to please the crowds.
With such a unique name it is a pity, Mrs L.H Wiggins did not follow through with an explanation. Over the years, however, there have been many theories, some of which I think take the cake:
•Hummingbirds are known for drinking only sweet enough nectar from flowers. This cake is just as sweet.
•Containing bananas and pineapples, which are popular in the tropics, especially Jamaica, this cake uses the national bird of Jamaica for its own name.
•This cake is that delicious that it makes you HUM with delight while eating it.
450g tin crushed pineapple, well drained (reserving 60ml syrup)
150g (1 cup) plain flour
90g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
220g (1 firmly packed cup) brown sugar
45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut + 2 tablespoons for decorating
1 medium banana, mashed
180ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil
For the Icing
40g butter, softened
60g cream cheese, softened
240g (1 1/2 cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and ground spices together in a large bowl. Add the banana, pineapple and 1/2 cup coconut and mix together.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, pineapple juice and vegetable oil and fold through the flour mixture.
Line a 22cm spring form pan with baking paper and pour in the cake batter.
Bake on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
In the meantime beat the butter and cream cheese together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and orange zest.
Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until all sugar is dissolved (you can test this by rubbing a tiny amount of icing between your fingers, if you feel tiny grains of sugar continue to beat until they dissolve).
When the cake is cool, cut in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place the base, bottom side down on a platter and spread 1/3 cup of icing all the way to the edges.
Carefully place the other half of the cake, with the top facing up on top of the icing and press together. To make lining the cake back together easier, I mark one side with a little vertical cut so that when I slice it in half I have markings of where to line it back up again.
Spread the rest of the icing over the entire cake.
Toast the remaining coconut in a dry frypan on medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown. To decorate, gently press the coconut onto the sides.
If desired decorate the top of the cake with more coconut, edible flowers or dried banana chips.