Hummingbird Cake and Family Reunions

For me, the hardest part about making a cake for someone else  is…
not cutting it before you give it away.Hummingbird Cake 1

I really wanted to cut this cake!  As a baker, I love seeing how the cut layers looks with all the filling.  I like to see if I accomplished even distribution of the filling between layers.  For me it brings a bit of closure to the whole baking process, its the final proof of a successful baking experience (that, and happy eaters!).   But because I also love to see the persons reaction when they see the finished cake, giving them a cake with one piece cut out would definitely not have the same desired effect.  So I didn’t cut it…

I love hummingbird cake! The original recipe is from the 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine.  The cake has a little spice (cinnamon), bananas and pineapple and comes together to make a really good cake.  I don’t quite remember when I first discovered this recipe, but since then I try to make this cake every time I get the chance.

Hummingbird Cake 2

The recipe calls for 2 cups of bananas and 8 ounces of pineapple, but because I tend to favor the pineapple flavor I reduce the amount of banana by just a little so that the pineapple flavor really shines through.  I made this cake for my friend Tonya’s family reunion so I decided to go all out on the decorations.  Hopefully it will serve as a pretty addition to what I am sure will be a beautiful day of enjoying family.

Hummingbird Cake 3

Sometimes I have a very clear plan in mind when it comes  to decorating a cake, other times I just pick a decorating tip and begin the process and see where it takes me.  This was one of those occasions where I just decided to just go for it… I think it turned out pretty good!  I think the top looks like a sunflower, this was not intentional, but it works, so I am pleased!

Hummingbird Cake Close Up

Because this cake had to withstand being outside for an extended period of time, I had to forgo the traditional cream cheese frosting (which I love) and use another favorite, Italian Meringue Buttercream.  I opted to flavored it with pineapple syrup and also added chunks of pineapple to the filling.  Can you see why I wanted to cut this cake!!  I need to make another one soon so I can taste this combination!

HB Cake collage

Tonya also ordered two dozen cupcakes in addition to the cake.  I made my death my chocolate cupcakes which are rich chocolate cupcakes, filled with a chocolate ganache, topped withe chocolate buttercream and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.  I also made a traditional vanilla cupcake topped with a whipped vanilla frosting, topped with raspberries and blackberries.

Family reunion cupcake collage

Hummingbird Cake with Pineapple Italian Meringue Buttercream
Very slightly adapted from the original recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans (for decoration)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray with nonstick baking spray three 8-inch cake pans.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add eggs, oil and vanilla; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Stir in pineapple with its juice and mashed bananas.
  • Evenly divide batter into prepared cake pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow cakes to cool in pans for about 10 minutes then remove from pans to cool completely.

Pineapple Italian Meringue Buttercream (and Filling)

7 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup
1/4 cup water
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Yellow gel coloring, to desired color

Pineapple syrup and pineapples for filling
1 (8 ounce) can chopped pineapple
1/4 cup brown sugar

  • Combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  • Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium high heat.
  • Begin whipping the egg whites with the mixer on high speed, when the egg whites start to stiffen, pour in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue to beat the egg whites.
  • Once the syrup reaches 245°F remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue, being careful to not get the hot syrup on the whisk or side of the bowl (or you!)
  • Mix until the side of the bowl is cool, about 10 minutes and begin adding butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • The meringue may deflate as you begin adding the butter, keep mixing it will come together.

For pineapple syrup and filling

  • In another small saucepan, add the chopped pineapple and brown sugar and cook until the juice becomes syrupy.
  • Pour COOLED syrup into the meringue buttercream
  • Place about 2 cups of buttercream into a separate bowl and add the pineapple chunks for the filling between layer.

Frost the cake… have fun and be creative!


  • I used a 1M piping tip to decorate the cake an make the rose design and stars around the top of the cake.
  • There is a really great rose cake video tutorial by I am Baker here.
  • I adapted the Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe so that I would have little more frosting for decorating.  I adjusted the number of egg whites and sugar, it turned out good, but when making the meringue part (before adding the butter), it barely fit in the bowl of my mixer… so be careful.  I have a KitchenAid stand mixer, I have a 4 1/2 quart bowl.

3 thoughts on “Hummingbird Cake and Family Reunions

  1. This cake was absolutely awesome ! I come from a large family with strong southern roots. The kind of family where Mom and Grandma put their heart into making meals, because it was an expression of love for their family. With that being said, I watched my family, especially my Aunts, go crazy over that cake. When old school cooks compliment you, it’s a well deserved compliment. The cupcakes, especially the chocolate were “the best”. Ayanna, thank you for sharing your gift of baking with the Johnson family. We’ll be ordering another cake for the next event. Tonya

  2. Pingback: Determination in the Kitchen ~ Banana and Pineapple Cupcakes | Savor.Good.Food

  3. Pingback: Sunshine and Raspberries | Savor.Good.Food

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