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Hummingbird Cake Recipe: A Favorite Southern Dessert

A former field editor for Taste of Home magazine, Thelma has a huge collection of recipes shared with her by good cooks across the U.S.

Delicious Hummingbird Cake

Delicious Hummingbird Cake

A Southern Favorite

Hummingbird cake has been a Southern favorite recipe for years, due to its taste, moistness, readily available ingredients, and ease of making. What more could you ask for?

What started out as a tasty and simple cake has become a "claim to fame" for many high-profile cooks. Paula Deen and Martha Stewart both have their versions of it. Southern Living magazine claims they published the recipe first, in their February 1978 issue. However, I can remember my mother baking the same cake in the 1950s, without the fancy name. In our family, we just called it cake!

No one knows how it came to be known as hummingbird cake. Some have said it tastes so good that you hum when you eat it. Others believe it is as sweet as hummingbird nectar. Regardless of the name, it is a blue ribbon award winner having been voted the "Favorite Cake" at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair.

Truthfully, it is a very rich cake. But that's a good thing! It can be served in small slices so it stretches a long way for a large family or for a potluck dinner.

Tips for Success

Here are some tried and true suggestions to assure success when baking this cake:

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Read More From Delishably

  • Pecans: Make certain the pecans are fresh. They have a high fat content, so they spoil quickly. They can be kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for three months and in the freezer for six months. Don't forget to note the date on the container.
  • Bananas: Bananas become sweeter as they ripen and will taste much better in this recipe if they have no green showing. Very ripe bananas are also easier to mash and blend into the cake batter.
  • Shortening: You can replace oil with butter if desired. However, I recommend using oil if you prefer a very moist cake.
  • Frosting: Some people enjoy this cake without frosting for less sugar content, but most bakers prepare it with cream cheese frosting.
  • Garnishes: You can add whole maraschino cherries and pecan halves to the top of the cake which makes it very attractive. especially for a special occasion. Remember, presentation is important.
Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

30 min

50 min

Depends on size of slices


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour well three 9-inch baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat oil, sugar and vanilla at medium speed on mixer until fluffy. Add lightly beaten eggs, a little at a time, and beat well.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the mixture in the large bowl alternately with buttermilk. Add mashed bananas, undrained pineapple and pecans.
  4. Pour batter into three pans evenly. Hold pans 2 or 3 inches above the counter and drop to get any bubbles out of the batter.
  5. Bake 30 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in center of each layer to see if it comes out clean.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes while the layers are still in the pans. Remove layers from pans and let cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe


  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  2. Beat in sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.
  3. Apply frosting between each layer of the cake. Then frost the top and sides of the cake.
  4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving so the frosting has time to get firm. Refrigerate any uneaten cake.

© 2013 Thelma Raker Coffone

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