Hummingbird Cake

June 10, 2012

Margaux says…

I came across this recipe on the Martha Stewart website last year, and have been looking for an excuse to make it.  Last weekend I got the opportunity…my Aunt Annie got married and we had a small outdoor reception for her, and it seemed the perfect venue for this cake.  I’m SO glad that I chose this cake, because I ended up only having a few hours in the morning to throw it together, and it’s one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made!!  It calls for self-rising flour, which I have never used in my life, but is apparently extremely popular in the South, especially for use in cakes.  I have to say, I’m sold on it.

Hummingbird cake is a very popular cake in the South…one of my aunts told me that she read that it is “Southern Living” magazine’s most requested recipe of all time–not cake recipe, but overall most requested recipe.  It’s said to have originated in Jamaica, where the hummingbird (or, Dr. Bird)  is one of the national symbols.   In 1978, a Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., submitted the recipe to Southern Living magazine, and the cake became renowned.  The true origin of the cake, or the cake name, is not known.  One theory is that it gets its name from being so sweet, that people are drawn to it the way hummingbirds are drawn to sweet sugared water.  On Martha Stewart’s website, it says that it might be so named because each bite “makes you hum with delight.”  It is quite often served at potlucks, or covered dish gatherings, because it’s so sweet that the servings need to be very small, so it serves plenty of people.  Most importantly, we all loved it, and I will definitely be making it again.  It indeed is extremely sweet, but absolutely delicious, and a great alternative for family get-togethers!  Another nice thing about it is that it is an oil cake rather than butter, so it can be refrigerated and not lose it’s original moist texture.  This makes it a great cake for summer, too!

Hummingbird Cake

Paula Deen’s recipe, found on

  • For The Cake

    • Nonstick vegetable spray
    • All-purpose flour, for pans
    • 3 cups self-rising flour
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
    • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • For The Frosting

    • 1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
  2. Prepare the cake; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 26 to 28 minutes.
  4. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
  5. Prepare the frosting; in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk on medium speed until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the proper spreading consistency.
  6. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another 1/4 of the frosting. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with pecans. Remove parchment paper strips; refrigerate until ready to serve.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a little boy, Desmond, who is now 21 months old.  He and I go to a monthly attachment parenting meeting at Be By Baby, a Chicago baby store that you should really check out if you live in the area!  Our last meeting was about family nutrition, and many of the mothers brought up the concern that they have about their toddler not eating anything more than Goldfish crackers and Cheerios.  A lot of moms had really great ideas for getting your toddler to eat better foods, which was really nice for me as well because we just went through a few days of Desi not eating anything but…you guessed it…Goldfish.

One of the things we talked about at our meeting was the use of flax seed.  Flax seed has a ton of nutrients in it, and is great because you can add flax seed meal to things and your little one won’t even notice.  One of the moms in my group suggested making a smoothie with flax seed in it, so I came up with this one for Desi.  He absolutely loves it!

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie with Flax Seed Meal

1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 banana
4 strawberries, or a handful of blueberries or raspberries
1 tbsp flax seed meal(or more…I’ve been slowly increasing the amount as he gets used to the flavor)
apple or white grape juice (used as a sweetener and thinner…use as much as you’d like depending on how thin you want the smoothie to be)

Pulse the yogurt, banana and berries in a blender a few times until the fruit has broken up a bit, then puree it on high for about 30 seconds. Add the flax seed meal and a little juice, puree for another 30 seconds or so until smooth. Add juice as needed and blend.

I serve the smoothie to Desi in a small cup with a straw, but if your little one isn’t using a straw yet, I recommend buying one of the “First Years Take N’ Toss” sippy cups (Target has them), or some other cheap sippy cup, and cutting off the end of the spout so that the thicker liquid can come through.

You can save the smoothie for a day, so I make two and save the extra for the next day so that I’m not getting the blender out every day.

Other uses for flax seed meal:

It’s good on hot cereal…Desi doesn’t even notice that I’ve been putting it on his oatmeal in the morning.

You can add it to baked goods like pancakes, muffins, or quick breads.  Just mix a couple of tablespoons in with the dry ingredients.

Add it to your granola if you make your own like I do (yes, I’m a serious hippie sometimes).