Last week I found a magazine page I've kept for over 5 years, since 2003. It was a recipe of this pretty cake that had pineapple slices for flowers. I pulled it out this week to try it for the first time and even researched the recipe a little to find that there were changes I wanted to make. I made it in honor of my best friend, K Marie, and it was a hit.
So for K Marie's birthday yesterday, we spent the afternoon first with lunch at Carrabba's where we had cannelloni and baked salmon, it was delicious and the service was really great. Then it was off to the nearby shopping mall to window shop and admire things we couldn't afford. After a few hours of mostly talking and little spending we went home and I was off to make this cake for her dessert party. It was easy to put together, the cake was in the oven in less than 20 minutes and I even went to a mtg. in between making the cake and putting it altogether with the frosting.
I will warn, however, that if you do choose to do the pineapple flowers, give yourself time. Do it the night before so there's not pineapple in the oven when your guests come over and melts your cake. I under estimated to difficulty it would be, drying out pineapple slices, as well as slicing the darn thing as thin as I could!
Some history about the cake and why it's called "Hummingbird Cake"
On the magazine clipping it says that perhaps the reason it's given the name hummingbird is because each "otherworldy" bite is followed by a "hum of delight". This, I found, is not exactly true. I didn't hear any hums from my tasters but I did get many a compliment, even for my droopy pineapple flowers...
As for the origin of the cake and recipe:
"The exact origin of the cake remains a mystery. In 1978, a Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., submitted the recipe to Southern Living magazine, the Southern belle bible of gracious hostessing, and the cake became renowned. "It is still our most requested recipe," says Donna Florio, a senior writer at the magazine."
---"The Recipe for Hummingbird Cake, Food & Drink," ELIZABETH SCHATZ, The New York Sun, November 13, 2002 , Pg. 1 from food timeline.
Regardless of where it came from or why it's named what it's named, it was delicious, and definitely delightful. If you like banana bread and don't mind nuts, pineapple, or coconut (which you get a delicate taste of) you'll love this cake. It's rich and moist and quite simple to pull off.
adapted from Mrs. Wiggin's 1978 original recipe and Martha Stewart's:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed bananas (3 big 'uns)
1 (8 oz can) crushed pineapple, with juices
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 c. dessicated coconut
White Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
Dried Pineapple Flowers (recipe follows, or click here)
Butter and flour 2 or 3 (depending on how many layers you want; more layers = thinner layers) 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. *Tip from Martha: line the bottom of pan with parchment paper. If you do, butter and flour the paper as well.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
In mixer combine oil, vanilla, and sugar. Add eggs, beat until fluffy. Add pineapple, chopped pecans, and bananas. Add flour mixture until well combined. Spoon batter into cake pans.
Bake at 350º F. For 30 to 35 minutes. When cakes are done (toothpick in center comes out clean) cool cakes in their pans on a rack until cool enough to remove without breaking, 10 -15 min. Transfer to cooling rack by setting the rack on top of the cake in its pan, then flipping them over together. Let them cool completely.
Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans or pineapple flowers. Yield: one 9-inch layer cake.
So, K Marie has a deep aversion to most anything white and creamy, especially Cream Cheese, which is the staple ingredient to the traditional icing served with this Southern gem of a cake. I do know however, that she loves whip cream and doesn't mind chocolate in the least bit, who doesn't?
Anyway, I stumbled upon this recipe for a White Chocolate Frosting and it was a perfect icing to use instead of cream cheese. The only thing about it was that it melted easily, so make sure the pineapple is made a day before, not right before (like I had done) because if you do, the pineapple melts the icing.
White Chocolate Icing
adapted from cooks.com
7 0z. white baking chocolate (chopped up)
1/3 c. heavy cream
stir together in double boiler until melted and smooth, stirring often.
Let cool completely.
2 sticks (1 c.) butter
1 c. powdered sugar
Beat on high until fluffy.
Keeps well in refrigerator.