Breathe new life into overripe fruit with this tropical hummingbird cake recipe!
First developed to entice travelers to Jamaica, the hummingbird cake quickly became a popular spice cake, beloved for its fruit-filled, tropical deliciousness. Unlike typical fruit cake recipes that rely on dried fruits, this cake is loaded with fresh bananas and canned pineapple. Other ingredients common in cake recipes give this cake a familiar fluffy sponge to support the fruit.
Next time your bananas get overripe, heed the call of the Caribbean and give this classic Hummingbird Cake a try!
Fruit cake is simply sensational! And this hummingbird cake recipe is perfect for dessert, with coffee, as an afternoon snack — or even as an indulgent breakfast. There’s no wrong time for fruit cake!
- Tropical goodness in every bite
- Great way to use overripe bananas
- Delicious with frosting or plain!
- Perfectly balanced flavors
How To Make Hummingbird Cake Recipe
There are many different hummingbird cake recipes out there! For instance, Paula Deen, the expert on sweet tea and all things Southern, uses butter instead of oil in hers to up the cream factor. While every version of this cake is delicious, I prefer the airier, moister result from my oil-based recipe!
This recipe can be broken down into three sections: make the cake, make the frosting, and assemble. Grease and prep your baking pans before mixing your dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in your wet ingredients until moistened. Pour into pans and bake until golden and yummy.
For the frosting, beat the softened cream cheese with the butter. Add the sugar and vanilla and test your frosting often — gotta make sure it tastes good, after all!
Once your cakes are cool, frost and assemble them into a hummingbird cake wonder!
Many cake recipes don’t allow much room to deviate from the steps, lest your efforts collapse into mushy cake yuckiness. Not so with this hummingbird cake recipe!
We’ve got variations galore — want to cook your cake in a pretty hummingbird cake bundt pan? Go for this hummingbird bundt cake version! One of the original recipes, the hummingbird cake Southern Living featured, set the standard for this versatile, yummy dessert. Let’s break it down!
If you’ve ever baked fruit cakes before, all of these ingredients should be familiar! We all know how moist and flavorful mashed bananas make cakes and muffins, and the pineapple adds additional moisture along with that slightly acidic quality that makes it such a unique flavor.
Toasted pecans, warm cinnamon, and vanilla round out the flavors in a pretty standard cake batter leavened with just a touch of baking soda. Here’s some more info!
No Layers: I know we don’t always have the time or patience to deal with frosting a layered cake. You can easily turn this into a hummingbird sheet cake by baking it in a 9”x13” dish (lightly greased or lined with parchment paper) at 350 degrees for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Toasty: You will always benefit from toasting pecans before using them! I prefer to do them in a skillet on the stove over low to medium-low heat, tossing them around until fragrant. I’ve been known to forget about them once or twice when trying the oven method.
Be sure to toast them whole, then chop them afterward, to prevent burning.
Pineapple Flowers: One of my favorite garnishes for this cake is dried pineapple flowers! Heat your oven to 225 degrees. Take a fresh pineapple, chop off the top and bottom, then peel, cleaning the edges until none of the little brown bits are left. Cut thin slices and place them in a single layer on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 30 minutes until the tops look dry, then flip and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes until they are thoroughly dried. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn! As soon as they come out of the oven, I drape them over the back side of a muffin tin so they make a perfect cupped flower shape.
You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for about three days if needed.
Frosting: You wouldn’t think of frosting this cake with anything but a cream cheese frosting, right? The touch of tang in the cream cheese balances the whole cake. But you’ll want to make sure your cream cheese and butter are both at room temp — either leave them out beforehand or follow any of these handy steps.
When it comes to storing the result of this hummingbird cake recipe, what’s the best method? Do you treat it like a standard fruit cake or more like a sponge cake? Read on!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! I always approach my this cake as I would a sponge cake — it doesn’t have quite the same preservation ingredients like dried fruit in fruit cake, so it works best to lean towards the sponge side of things.
Once assembled, you can store the result of your cake in the freezer for up to six months.
Make Ahead Tips
The best way to speed along this hummingbird cake recipe is to make the cake part ahead of time and let it cool in the fridge until you need it. The cake will last up to a full week in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble and serve!
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Yes! Even once assembled with frosting, your hummingbird cake will last up to a week in the fridge. The frosting may start to separate after a few days, but the excess moisture will soak into the cake and make it super sugary yummy. I love it!
What other changes can we make to this versatile, delicious tropical treat? Let’s get to it!
Can I Add Coconut?
Yes, please! Coconut would be a great addition to this tropical hummingbird cake recipe. If you love desserts like rich coconut pound cake or smooth coconut sheet cake, you’ll love the addition of either coconut extract or shredded coconut. You won’t regret making this a coconut cake!
Can I Add Peaches?
The hummingbird cake recipe is beloved in the South, so making this a peach cake is a natural progression! Peach pound cake has an undeniable deliciousness that would bring a bright flavor dimension to the pineapple and bananas. Looking for other peach recipes? Try my peach coffee cake!
What Other Cake Can I Make With My Excess Pineapple?
Go pineapple crazy! A pineapple sheet cake is a moist, pineapple-studded cake drenched in a sweet, creamy coconut icing, with crispy toasted pecans on top. Pineapple pound cake is buttery and rich and absolutely perfect with tea, just like its lighter counterpart, pineapple angel food cake.
But one recipe that takes the cake (pun intended) is the aptly named pineapple sunshine cake. Bright and wonderful!
What Other Cake Can I Make With My Leftover Overripe Bananas?
Have more overripe bananas? My standard banana cake features lemony banana flavor and frosting that couldn’t get any moister! And banana pudding cake is an incredibly moist three-layer cake with a cream cheese pudding filling, lots of bananas, and a luscious frosting.
If you want something denser, try either my banana pound cake or banana coffee cake!
Can I Add Apples?
Once you start making fruit cakes, it’s hard to stop! Next, try my apple dump cake with tender fruit and a rich, buttery cake covered with crunchy crumbs. Apple spice cake is a rich, spicy celebration of apple flavors. If you want to go full autumn, you have to try my caramel apple sheet cake. Yum!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon dried ground nutmeg
- 2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 (8-Ounce) can crushed pineapple undrained
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 2 (8-ounce) boxes cream cheese softened
- 1 cup butter softened
- 4 cups (32-ounces) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Cups Pecans chopped
Make the Cakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 3-9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Add the bananas, oil, pineapple, eggs, vanilla, and pecans and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake in preheated oven for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire rack and cool completely about 1 hour.
Make the Frosting:
- In a medium mixing bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating on low speed, until combined. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
- Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate. Evenly spread one-fourth of the frosting over top. Repeat with remaining layers. Spread the remaining frosting over the sides of the cake.
- Press 2 cups chopped Pecans onto the sides of the cake. Refrigerate overnight.
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Have a fruit cake party! I know I’d come, especially if you serve this hummingbird cake recipe or any of these treats:
- Strawberry Sheet Cake – A delicious showstopper cake that is super moist, rich, and sweet!
- Carrot Cake Cheesecake – Cake and cheesecake in one perfect dessert!
- Pumpkin Dump Cake – Dump, bake, and done
- Mandarin Orange Cake – Everyone’s favorite canned fruit in a fluffy cake
- Mango Cake – Go tropical in a different route with mango cake!
Whether you made this hummingbird cake recipe for a party, a holiday, or just tonight’s dessert, I think you’ll agree that this is the best use of overripe bananas since banana bread! What was your favorite part? I love the cream cheese frosting!