Do you ever have one of those moments where you finish a project, and when it's all said and done, you come up with a great idea but it's too late? This recipe is that moment for me. After I'd finally developed all of the recipes for my new book, One Bowl Baking, I came across a recipe for hummingbird cake and said to myself, "Oh no! Take the book off the press!" Well, of course that couldn't be done, so now you have it.
I first came across a hummingbird cake years ago at an old fashioned bakeshop in New York City. I was intrigued by the sweet name and the even sweeter flavor. I fell in love with this tall layer cake made of sweet-tart crushed pineapple, sweet banana, a sprinkling of cinnamon spice, and loads of pecans, all stacked together with a fluffy cream cheese frosting.
Hummingbird cake is very popular in the South, but its actual origin isn't quite known. According to The Food Timeline, it may have have come to the United States by way of Jamaica. No matter where it came from, the combination of flavors is so delicious, and mixing it couldn't be simpler.
Hummingbird cake is an oil-based cake, which means the batter can be easily stirred by hand. To keep the process all in one bowl, just add the ingredients to the bowl and mix—no sifting, and no extra bowl for the dry mix (a scale really helps here). One of the unique things about this cake is the canned pineapple. Don't substitute fresh pineapple here, and don't think about straining the fruit. One of the reasons why this cake is so moist is the unusual step of adding all of the pineapple liquid into the batter (I tried omitting the liquid the first time with disastrous results). This cake baked up so juicy and moist that it resembled a pudding cake, so I changed it up from a traditional layer cake to a one-pan snack cake.
For the frosting, just wash out the bowl that contained the batter, and then whisk it up. The tangy cream cheese complements the sweet cake, and as a nod to this cake's possible Jamaican roots, I stirred in a bit of dark rum. So tropical, so good.
About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of the new cookbook One Bowl Baking: Simple From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts (Running Press, October 2013), and available at Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell's, The Book Depository. Watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. Follow her Chocoholic, Chicken Dinners, Singapore Stories and Let Them Eat Cake columns on Serious Eats. Follow Yvonne on Twitter as she explores Singapore.