Hummingbird Cake

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On a lazy weekend with miserable weather, why not bake a ginormous cake for two people? I couldn’t think of a reason, so we ended up with this hummingbird cake (a banana/pineapple cake with similarities to carrot cake). To be completely honest, though, I bought the bananas for this cake last week just in case I had the time to bake it this weekend once they had ripened.

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Both my wife and I really enjoyed the cake. I’m actually a little surprised my wife liked it so much (she had a slice each day, which isn’t typical if she thinks it’s just OK). I think the cake can be improved upon, mostly due to my haste in the baking process and my liberties with the recipe. The cream cheese frosting, however, might be the best I have made and may supplant my birthday carrot cake cream cheese frosting this summer…

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Unfortunately, I made a number of errors, boneheaded mistakes, and recipe adjustments that didn’t really work.

  1. I accidentally purchased one can of pineapple chunks (instead of crushed pineapple), so I spent more time than I wanted crushing pineapple and straining the associated pineapple juice.
  2. I decided to roast the bananas, which helped in the flavor/aroma department but detracted from the moistness typically associated with hummingbird cakes.
  3. I ended up with A LOT of pineapple juice, which took some time to reduce. Enough time, in fact, that I left the saucepan unattended to prepare my cake pans and other ingredients. So, I ended up with half to two-thirds of the pineapple juice I needed.
  4. I substituted half of the granulated sugar for light brown sugar, which really wasn’t an error, but it was a change from the tried-and-tested ATK recipe (this might have helped with the lack of moisture, though).
  5. I omitted the chopped pecans from the cake because I don’t like crunch in my cake. Instead, I added them to the outside as decoration and as an enhancement to the frosting. This was probably the best decision I made (other than making the cake, obviously).

But the frosting more than made up for these failings. It is an unusual method for cream cheese frosting (beating chilled cream cheese on low speed), but I had no trouble incorporating the ingredients, and the ratio of butter, sugar, and cream cheese was perfect. Add the toasted pecans, and this frosting was A+.

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I scaled the frosting ingredients up a little bit because I wanted to have extra for decorating and I was going to end up with stub pieces of butter and cream cheese. It ended up being a lot of frosting anyway, but this is never a bad thing. This cake was probably the prettiest cake I’ve ever decorated. I’m getting better at using the piping bag, and keep getting more and more practice every time I bake.

I’ll definitely make this cake again, hopefully without the previous errors…

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
Based on recipe found here (via here).

INGREDIENTS

Cake:
2 8 oz. cans crushed pineapple
3 cups (15 oz.) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
1 cup (7 oz.) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large bananas, very ripe, peeled and mashed
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:
24 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 cups (24 oz.) powdered sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
3/5 tsp. salt
24 oz. cream cheese, chilled and cut into 1 oz. pieces

pecans, toasted and/or chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack to middle position. Butter and flour three 8″ cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper, then butter the parchment paper.
  2. Drain pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, removing as much juice as possible. Place crushed pineapple into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, cook pineapple juice until reduced to 1/3 cup (~5 minutes). Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. In a separate large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together, then whisk in the oil. Stir in bananas, pecans, vanilla, drained pineapple, and reduced pineapple juice.
  6. Stir flour mixture into wet mixture until just combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans (~560g per pan) and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until dark golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (25-30minutes).
  8. Let cakes cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from the pans to cool completely.
  9. For the frosting: In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together on low speed until smooth. Mix for two minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  10. Increase the speed to medium-low, and add the cream cheese one piece at-a-time, mixing until smooth. Continue to mix for another two minutes.
  11. Frost the cakes as desired. Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour before serving.
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One thought on “Hummingbird Cake

  1. Carrot Cake IV | The Viscious Cycle August 3, 2016 at 2:59 pm Reply

    […] nuts or raisins in the cake, but both my wife and I enjoyed the toasted pecans on the outside of this hummingbird cake enough that I decided to run it back. The pecans add a different flavor and […]

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