Thank goodness it’s Saturday. Let’s be honest, it’s been a long, tiring week. I don’t know about you, but I always struggle with the first week of the “spring forward” time change. Yes, I enjoy the longer daylight hours and yes, I delight in the warmer weather, but the loss of one of my precious hours of sleep? Now that’s a tough pill to swallow….
Oh these scones. They were a labor of love for me. I made them not once, not twice, but three times before I got them just right. The first time they were too dense and not sweet enough. The second time they were a touch dry and I overcooked them by about five minutes thanks to a pesky almost three year old who turned the oven dial up 25 degrees to 375º when no one was looking (ahem… Benji). The third time I hit perfection. I halved the recipe, added a touch more butter and duct taped the oven dial to 350º….
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of hummingbird cake.
Chances are, if you’re from the south, you’re frantically waving you’re arms in the air right about now saying, “Uh, yea. Of course I’ve heard of it. Now could you pass a slice this way please?” And that’s because hummingbird cake is a truly southern affair.
No one’s quite sure where the confection actually originated or what the meaning of the hummingbird name is although there are several theories regarding both. I’ve read that it was originally created in Jamaica, but it is most famously known from it’s original submission to Southern Living magazine back in 1978. The hummingbird is the national bird of Jamaica; another point for it’s potential tropical beginnings. Since it’s debut, the cake has gone on to win several awards throughout the South and was elected Southern Living’s favorite recipe ever in 1990. Now that’s a dessert I can seriously stand behind.
Hummingbird cake combines the warm weather flavors of bananas, pineapple, coconut and pecans and as a result is a perfect springtime finish to any southern meal. Seeing as we’re finally starting to warm up here in North Carolina, I decided this would be a fitting end of the week addition to the blog. I wanted to put my own spin on the original flavors so I shook it up a bit and created a hummingbird upside down cake. This version sports a moist and delicious banana cake base topped with pineapple, coconut and pecans. Served alongside a healthy dollop of cream cheese whipped cream, you’re certain to get in touch with your Southern side after a bite or two this treat.
So what do you say? Who’s ready to feed their sweet tooth?
You’ll start out by mixing together a little melted butter and brown sugar. Pour it into a cake pan and top with coconut, pineapple and pecans.
It’s looking pretty darn tasty already. Am I right or am I right?
Move over to your mixer and whip up a quick banana cake batter. The riper the fruit the better when it comes to banana desserts.
Next up, grab a cake pan and pour your finished product over the top of the pecans and pineapple. There’s no greasing necessary because that nummy ummy brown sugar butter mixture will coat the sides of your pan as it cooks, caramelizing and “unsticking” all in one fell swoop. Pretty friggin’ awesome if you ask me.
Check out my cooked up cake.
The good stuff’s on the bottom (soon to be the top), so let’s flip this thing, shall we? Simply run a knife around the outer edge of the pan and let ‘er drop out.
Much, much better. Just look at that caramelized crust. Please pardon me while I head to the kitchen and grab another slice.
“But wait, there’s more!” (as proclaimed in my best infomercial voice)
Hummingbird cake wouldn’t be complete without the cream cheese frosting. I didn’t want to cover up that beautiful caramelized coconut topping, so I decided to make a flavorful whipped cream accompaniment instead. I’m sure you’ll concur that it was a dessert pleasing decision.
Grab up a couple ounces of cream cheese and whip it around with a mixer until smooth. Add in a pour of cream, a splash of vanilla, a little sugar and a couple spoonfuls of pineapple juice reserved from the fruit you used on the cake. Spin on high speed until whipped cream forms.
Serve up a slice with a dollop of cream and enjoy a truly southern springtime treat.
Hummingbird Upside Down Cake
Yield: 12 Cake Slices
Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
For the Cake:
6 Tbsp Melted Butter
11/4 Cup Brown sugar
3/4 Cup Shredded Coconut
1 20 Oz. Can Pineapple Chunks
Two Handfuls Pecans (about20-25 pecans)
8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (1/2 Cup or 1 Stick)
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Almond Extract
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 3/4 Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
3-4 Ripe Bananas
For the Whipped Cream:
2 Oz. Room Temperature Cream Cheese
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
3 Tbsp Reserved Pineapple Juice
Mix together the melted butter and 3/4 cups of the brown sugar. Spread it into a 9" round cake pan.
Sprinkle the coconut across the top of the butter mixture.
Drain the can of pineapple, reserving 3 tablespoons of the juice.
Place the pineapple and the pecans across the bottom of the pan and set to the side.
In a mixer, cream together the butter, white sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
Add in the eggs and the two extracts.
Mix in the buttermilk.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the wet in batches, stirring after each addition.
Add in the bananas and mix until combined.
Pour the cake batter over the top of the pecans and place in a 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle.
Allow about 5 minutes to cool and then run a knife around the edge and flip over onto a serving dish.
For the whipped cream, begin by whipping the cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.
Add in the cream, brown sugar, vanilla and pineapple juice.
Whip on medium/high speed until whipped cream forms.
Serve a hearty dollop of the whipped cream along side the cake.
These little confections could easily go by an alternate name of “everything but the kitchen sink” cupcakes. Charged with baking a sweet treat for Drew’s preschool, I stepped into my kitchen Sunday afternoon with an empty pantry, an absent husband and a sleeping toddler. There would be no trip to the grocery store for me. It was time to get creative and I was up for the challenge.
I was supposed to be making a tart with my brand new tart pan. At least that was the original intention. In the end it turned out more like a bar made in a tart pan. This is the second time that my attempts at “tart creation” have been thwarted. The first time involved rhubarb and wouldn’t you guess, cream cheese. It was a sloppy finish and in the end I had to mix the whole concoction together, throw it in a pie crust and freeze it. The pie was delicious, but it definitely didn’t qualify for tart status. I swear, one of these days I’m going to set out to make a tart and succeed. Until that day comes though, this bar definitely suffices and serves to calm my ever nagging sweet tooth.
Think cookie crust with just a hint of lemon zest meets smooth as silk almondy cream cheese middle and hug it all together with a slightly tart red raspberry sauce that serves to balance the overall sweetness of the confection. Combine this melody of flavors and what do you have? One harmoniously empty plate, that’s what.
I’m assuming you can’t get to the kitchen fast enough to whip a plate up for yourself, so let me end the suspense and show you how it’s done.
It’s one of those weeks. My vacuum is broken, and my house is in desperate need of a suction. My husband is missing in action for the next few days with work and, wouldn’t you know, Nicholas is home sick with a fever that won’t seem to go away. We’re expecting a delivery of new bedroom furniture for the boys rooms, but as it stands now, their accommodations are such a disaster that I can barely step foot in them, let alone move heavy furniture around.
I’m starting to feel that all too familiar caress of the “I must have a “Calgon take me away” bath and a large glass of wine IMMEDIATELY” syndrome. When you’re alone in the house with three boys, though, bathes and wine aren’t always an option. Step in choice number two. Which, I might add, ranks right up there with hot water and wine.
I cook up something amazing. A dish that’s both delectable and tummy pleasing; mind calming and sheer comfort food all rolled into one. For me, that’s stuffed chicken. It can be stuffed with just about anything anyone wants to throw in and I’m ready to take it on just so long as one of the accouterments is cheese. Lots of cheese.
This little creation lives up to it’s purpose. With the addition of both cream cheese and jalapeno jack, it’s loaded with everything an overworked mom needs to replenish her sanity for another day on the job. Heck, just looking at that picture and seeing the cheese oozing out of the chicken makes my blood pressure drop a notch.
Grab a large glass of wine and let’s do this.