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.
Tropical-tastic Bread Pudding
Spring break is coming and I, for one, can hardly wait. Last year we did Disney World. It was blazing hot, crowded as all get out, and yet it still managed to be serious fun for the young and old crowd alike. I’ve decided that the secret to tackling the magic mouse with small kids is to bring a gaggle of adults with you. That way you have multiple ways to hand off children and enjoy a bit of the fun yourself. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a theme park? I love the rides, the atmosphere and, depending on where I’m at, the food (think Dole pineapple whips in Magic Kingdom – yummo!). Watching the kid’s expressions of joy is gift enough, but if I can throw a spin on the rockin’ roller coaster into the mix, the trip is blissfully complete.
Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cupcakes
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.
Shake and Coconut Bake Pork Chops with Rice
Dudes, like you have to check out this bodacious pork chop! It’s been “Shake and Baked!”
What do you think? Did I do the 80’s justice? Ok fine, I’ll give it to you that we probably didn’t use the word “bodacious” on a regular basis, but I definitely knew a few girlfriends that had close ties with the word “like” and I also knew a lot of moms that pulled out the Shake and Bake for a fast and fab weeknight dinner. I know you remember the good ol’ meat in a bag meal. You simply shook it up and cooked it up. Voila, dinner is served.
Orange Kissed Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Ready or not, Thanksgiving is rolling towards us at full speed. This year I’m hosting the holiday extravaganza and will welcome 10 people into my house for the week. As stressful as hosting can be, I must say that I love the challenge of entertaining and, most of all, feeding the masses. It really gives me an opportunity to get creative with what I prepare and allows me to test out new and appealing recipes. The menu items before and after the big day are almost as much fun to put together as the big bird itself. This year my family will be presented with such dishes as apple caramel breakfast casserole, pizza lasagna, breakfast burritos, and this little gem, the orange kissed sweet potato cake.
My little community garden had a few ups and downs this year, but one of the more successful achievements was my sweet potato crop.
I have a few more ideas up my sleeve for making use of the coveted orange tinted tubers, but this one really takes the cake (pun most definitely intended). If you’re looking for something a little bit different from a traditional sweet potato pie, grab up your potatoes and let’s have it.
Start out by whisking together a handful of eggs and some brown and white sugar. Get it nice and foamy; you want the egg mixture to lighten up in color from all the spinning.
Add a few more wet ingredients into the bowl including your sweet potato, a few squeezes of orange juice, some accompanying zest, a can of evaporated milk and a splash of vanilla.
In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. With spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in the shuffle, your guests will be relishing this Thanksgiving inspired finish to their meal.
Add the dry in with the wet and spin it around a few times to incorporate the flavors.
Pour the batter into prepared pans (I like to use parchment to make the cakes come clean easier) and bake them at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
While your cake layers are cooling, grab up a block of cream cheese, a stick of butter and a little vanilla. Whip it up and then add in a few poofs of powdered sugar to thicken. Stir in some coconut and you’re ready to frost.
If you love coconut like I do, then sprinkle a little more across the outside of the cake for good measure once you’ve finished with the creamy covering. You can never have too much coconut in my most humble of opinions.
And…. you’re ready to indulge.
Finally, as we get ready for the biggest food holiday of the year, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my partnership with Pepperidge Farm and their new Stone Baked Artisan Rolls. These tasty little bites are a perfect addition to any holiday table and will have your guests instantly asking for the recipe. With so much on your culinary plate this time of year, why not leave the bread to someone who really knows how to do it well and do it right?
Pepperidge Farm has challenged me to come up with a few simple tips for elevating a typical holiday meal into one that will have your guests swooning for seconds and wondering how you did it. I’ll be presenting them next week in time for the big event. So now I need to ask you…
What are some of your tips and tricks for elevating your Thanksgiving day meal from ordinary to extraordinary?
Note: I am working in conjunction with Pepperidge Farm and am being compensated for my time. As always all opinions and recipes are my own.
Orange Kissed Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Yield: 1 2 Tier Frosted Cake
Total Time: 50 min
For the Cake:
3/4 Cup White Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Pureed Sweet Potato
1 12 Oz. Can Evaporated Milk
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Orange, Juiced and Zested
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger
11/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
For the Frosting:
1 8 Oz. Block Cream Cheese
1 stick Butter (8 tablespoons or 1/2 Cup)
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Coconut plus a few extra handfuls for sprinkling on outside of cake
For the Cake:
Whisk together the eggs and the two sugars until frothy and light colored.
Add in the sweet potato, evaporated milk, olive oil, orange juice, zest, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients; the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry to the wet and mix.
Pour the batter into two prepared cake pans.
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
Cream together the cream cheese, butter, Powdered Sugar, and vanilla.
Mix in the coconut.
Frost the cake and, if desired, sprinkle additional coconut on the outside.
Cafe Style Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Summer break as an adult with a handful of children is difficult work. Just this week alone we’ve had playdates at friends house’s, gone swimming (4 times), bounced a morning away at Monkey Joes, ventured to the movies, treated ourselves to frozen yogurt, treated ourselves to dinner, and motored our way downtown for a morning at the Discovery Place (our resident science museum). The kids are having a summer break they won’t soon forget. I, on the other hand, need a well earned time out from all the fun.
Thank goodness for hot coffee and a muffin the size of my head. These treasures have been making my mornings a whole lot better for the past few days. Simply slice one in half, grab a large vessel of steaming hot caffeine and who knows where the day can take us? I’ve conquered lemon poppy seed and my next challenge is obtaining blueberry perfection. All I know is if I have one of these treats at my side, there’s nothing I can’t handle.
If you’re in search of summer break sustenance, then you’ll need to cream up a little sugar and butter and throw in a few goodies such as eggs, vanilla, and lemon in both the zest form and the juice form.