Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hummingbird Cake by Tom

Hummingbird Cake by Tom
 
Made this cake today as a treat for David's birthday. 

This cake originated in the Caribbean and most probably in Jamaica as the story goes.  In fact the Jamaican Tourist Board sent recipes to the United States in the late 60s as a way to encourage more tourism.  Whether that worked is unclear.  But hummingbird cake did become a favorite throughout many of the southern states showing up at county fairs and other baking competitions.

I had the opportunity to taste it while we were visiting New Orleans last March.  I enjoyed it because it reminded me of a cross between the denseness of a carrot cake and the taste of a spice cake.  Bananas and pineapple are two of the main ingredients, which give this cake its characteristic taste.  Throw in pecans and coconut to add texture and additional taste.  A cream cheese icing tops the cake.

And contrary to its name, there are no hummingbirds in this cake.

      ---Tom

Hummingbird Cake
(from King Arthur Flour catalogue who got it from Sunset Magazine)

Serves 12

for the cake:
4 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups (24 ounces) mashed ripe bananas, about 4-5 medium-large bananas
3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) unbleached self-rising flour
2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice or cloves
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained and the juice reserved
1 1/2 cups (5 5/8 ounces) toasted chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 ounces) sweetened coconut

for the frosting:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
Up to 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) pineapple juice, reserved from the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans.  Believe it or not, at this step I had to make an audible.  Unfortunately our oven crashed a couple of days ago, so I had to resort to our toaster oven.  Fortunately it worked out just fine, but I had to bake the three layers separately.  Not ideal, but workable.

To make the cake:

Beat the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until foamy.  Then mix in the bananas.

Whisk together in a separate bowl the flour, cinnamon and allspice.  Then add that to the mixture and make a smooth batter.  Stir in the pineapple juice, 1 cup of the pecans and all of the coconut.

Spoon the batter into the cake pans evenly.  Bake the cakes for 32-38 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes.  Run a spatula around the edges and then turn out the cakes onto cooling racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:  beat together the butter, cream cheese and salt until fluffy.

In a separate bowl combine the confectioners' sugar with the xanthan gum, and stir.  Now slowly add that to the cream cheese mixture, beating well.  Beat in the pineapple juice a little at a time until the frosting is of a spreadable consistency.

Frost each cake layer, then frost the top (and sides if you would like).  Decorate the top with the remaining pecans and a little leftover coconut.

      ----Tom

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