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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:

  • 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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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

Please share your comments on hummingbird cake!

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on January 18, 2020:

Thanks for this recipe. This looks like a really delicious cake!

Maria on December 22, 2019:

I bake this as a whole cake rather than 3 layers

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on May 11, 2016:

This cake is so mist and yummy! Thanks for recipe!

whatwhenwhereandwhy on February 05, 2016:

This is a great cake its a distant cousin to Banana Nut Bread I think...

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 02, 2015:

Essie I have gotten some great reviews on this cake. It is pretty tasty! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Essie from Southern California on August 02, 2015:

Mmmmm, looks terrific! I'm not much of a baker...but I do like this one! Thank you...

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on March 01, 2015:

Wow! This cake looks delicious. I have not heard of hummingbird cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have to try this. Voted up and shared to my fb account.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on June 28, 2014:

Monis Mas it really isn't hard and the little bit of extra effort is so worth it! Thanks for your nice comments.

Agnes on June 28, 2014:

This cake looks sooooo good. And it doesn't seem too hard to make, which means I can give it a try :-)

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 31, 2013:

randomcreative thanks for taking the time to stop by and read about the hummingbird cake. I appreciate your nice comments.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 31, 2013:

I'm from the midwest and had never heard of hummingbird cake before, but it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing this great recipe and for providing so much information about it.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on June 01, 2013:

IslandBites welcome to HubPages! I look forward to seeing more of your Caribbean recipes. Thanks for the comment.

IslandBites from Puerto Rico on May 31, 2013:

Nice recipe

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 31, 2013:

billybuc I always enjoy and appreciate your comments. Thanks!!! Come on down south sometime, we don't bite!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 31, 2013:

I have never heard of this, but of course I've never been to the South, so there you go. :) It sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe and nice job of including some history with the recipe.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 30, 2013:

RTalloni thanks for your great comments about Hummingbird Cake. I hope if you adapt the recipe for people with allergies to cow milk that you will write a hub about it. Thanks so much!

RTalloni on May 30, 2013:

Very interesting to read about the history of the so-called Hummingbird cake. It makes me think of the proverb, "There's nothing new under the sun." :) Anyway, the cake is a fabulous treat. One day I hope to work on a version that uses coconut oil, coconut/almond milk, and goat's milk to replace the cow milk products (due to allergy). Before I knew that problems were due to consuming cow's milk I tasted this wonderful dessert. It could be my next choice after chocolate! :) Neat hub, thanks!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

prasetio30 I bet your Mom would make it for you. Thanks for your comments and voting up!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

Elisha if you figure out how to make it gluten and dairy free, that would make a great hub. Thanks for stopping by.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 29, 2013:

Delicious and you make me hungry, my friend. Wow...I should share with my mother and I hope she'll make it for me. Thank you very much. Voted up and useful :-)

Prasetio

Elisha Jachetti on May 29, 2013:

I love hummingbird cake. I need to figure out how to make it gluten and dairy free.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

paxwill it is very sweet and delicious. But the best part it is so easy to make. Try it sometime. Thanks for your comments!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

Hello drbj ... glad I made you hum with this recipe. It really is worth humming about!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

Hello neighbor c mark walker from 2 towns away. Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comments.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

vocalcoach you are as sweet as the Hummingbird Cake for sharing it and voting it up. Thanks so much!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

rebeccamealey thanks so much for sharing my hub on your facebook page. I really appreciate it! I see you are from northeast Georgia ... I am in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Thanks Neighbor!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

bridalletter from the "Show Me" state of Missouri. Glad you like the recipe and that you are going to try it out. Let us know the results.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

Just Ask Susan I'm glad you are going to try the recipe. Let us know how you like it!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 29, 2013:

moonlake I'm sure there are good cooks up north that know about this recipe too. Thanks for your comments!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 29, 2013:

I've never eaten Hummingbird cake before, Thelma, but I am now humming with anticipation as I read your delicious recipe. Thank you.

Charles Mark Walker from Jasper Georgia on May 29, 2013:

Haven't had a Hummingbird Cake in years. This looks like a good recipe Thelma with some good advice along with it.

paxwill on May 29, 2013:

I'ts been a long time since I've had it and I didn't know it was officially called hummingbird cake, but it makes sense since it is soooooooo sweet!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 29, 2013:

This is a 'too-die-for' recipe! And the additional tips you've provided are a nice bonus. Good photo. Sharing and voted up plus 5*.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 29, 2013:

I have heard of hummingbird cake before, but had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. It looks and sounds delicious. I shared on my FB.

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on May 29, 2013:

Thank you for sharing the recipe. I have it at tea rooms whenever it is available. I love the name of it too. I am positive I will try this recipe out myself. So many good ingredients in it.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2013:

Oh my this sounds so good. Thanks for sharing your recipe and I can't wait to try it.

Pinning and Voting +++

moonlake from America on May 29, 2013:

We've ate this cake up north years ago, my mother=in=law made it. We ate it way before Martha or Paula. We also just called it cake. I'm from the south and don't remember my mom or any family member making it. Enjoyed your hub voted up.