Taste Tradition With a Southern Favorite: Hummingbird Cake

If you’ve never tasted hummingbird cake, you’ll want to make this sweet treat. It’s full of wonderful tastes and textures and a perfect spring dessert. The flavors of coconut, bananas, and pineapples give it a slightly tropical taste that’s simply scrumptious.

Hummingbird Cake

Serves 8


¾ cup whole pecans, plus an extra 16 whole pecans for garnishing the cake
Coconut oil cooking spray, for oiling cake pans
2 cups unbleached whole wheat white flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup melted coconut oil, cooled
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
3 medium-sized bananas, mashed
⅔ cup crushed pineapple

3 sticks (4 ounces each) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup plus 6 tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
3 lemons, zested



Have each of the cake ingredients measured and/or ready (as indicated) before starting. Make sure an oven rack is in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 350ºF. While the oven is preheating, toast the pecans just until they start to become fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the pecans as they’re toasting, as the oils in the nuts can burn. After removing the pecans from the oven, pour them onto a plate so they can cool. Once cooled, chop ¾ cup of the toasted pecans; set the chopped pecans and the 16 extra whole pecans aside.

Oil the bottoms and sides of two 6-inch cake pans using the coconut oil cooking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Spray coconut oil cooking spray onto each parchment paper.

Sift the whole wheat white flour into a large bowl. Add baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar to bowl; whisk to combine the ingredients.

Place the eggs in a different bowl; beat. Add in the melted (cooled) coconut oil and vanilla bean paste; lightly mix (ingredients will not be thoroughly combined).

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the egg-oil mixture into the well. Stir the ingredients together using a wooden spoon, stirring just until the ingredients are combined. Add in the bananas, pineapple, and chopped pecans; lightly mix. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared pans until they are ¾ full.

Place cake pans in the oven and bake approximately 55 minutes. Because oven temperatures vary, test to see if the cakes are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cakes; if the toothpick comes out clean, they’re done. After removing the cakes from the oven, set them still in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans by turning the cake pans over the cooling rack and carefully catching the cakes and setting them on the cooling rack. If the cakes do not easily release from the cake pans, you can tap the pans a couple of times. If the parchment paper is stuck to the cake bottoms, peel off and discard. Let the cakes completely cool before assembling the cake.


Have each of the icing ingredients measured and/or ready (as indicated) before starting. Place butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat ingredients on medium high until fluffy. Scrape down bowl. On low speed, mix in sifted powdered sugar until just incorporated. On low speed, mix in vanilla bean paste and lemon zest until just incorporated.

Assembling the Cake

Once cakes have completely cooled, use a serrated knife to split each cake in half horizontally so that you have a total of four cake layers.

Note: If you have a turntable that you can set a cake board on before assembling the cake, you will be able to frost the cake easier. But it’s not necessary.

Place the first cake layer on a cake board that has a thin layer of icing on the board. Dollop and spread some of the icing onto the top of the first layer. Stack the second cake layer atop the first cake layer; dollop and spread some of the icing onto the top of the second layer. Stack the third cake layer atop the second cake layer; dollop and spread some of the icing onto the top of the third layer. Stack the fourth cake layer atop the third cake layer. Crumb coat the cake and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you’re ready for the final coat, place a thick layer of icing onto the top of the cake and spread the icing evenly over the entire cake, smoothing the sides as you go. Place the remaining 16 whole toasted pecan pieces atop the cake (approximately two whole pecans per slice), gently pushing them into the icing until they hold firm. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.

If you have any leftovers and if your house stays 70ºF. or cooler, this cake will keep well, covered, for up to three days at room temperature. If you live somewhere where it is hot and humid, though, and if you do not plan on not eating the leftovers within a couple of days, you should store them, covered, in the fridge. Note: Whole wheat white flour makes for a denser cake. If you would like your cake to be less dense, you can substitute ½ of the whole wheat white flour with ½ all-purpose white flour.