Recently I was reading Cookery Ideas blog and found a recipe for Hummingbird Cake. This was a cake I had never heard of and I was intrigued by the name. Fortunately the cake is not made from Hummingbirds but is a very sweet cake containing banana and coconut. Hummningbirds are attracted to nectar and the cake is meant to be sweet enough to attract them. Rather than make one big cake I decided to make hummingbird cupcakes.
The history of Hummingbird Cake
Hummingbird cake is a traditional Southern American recipe. Baked in Springtime, when traditionally the flowers start to bloom and the birds start to return from their Winter migration. The mornings are full of bird song as the sun starts to shine earlier, washing away those grey winter days. Hummingbirds spend winter in Mexico and return to the Southern United States in Spring. It must be a lovely sight to see them hoovering over a flower, sipping the nectar. With it’s bananas and pineapple Hummingbird cake is a mouthful of Spring in a cake. The addition of banana and pineapple gives a clue that the cake originated in Jamaica. It is thought to have been invented in Jamaica in the 1960’s and was originally called Doctor Bird cake after a Jamaican hummingbird called the Red Streamer Tail. The recipe was sent out in tourist board leaflets to American to attract people on holiday in Jamaica. The recipe started to crop up across the South and the first printed copy in a magazine was attributed to Mrs L H Wiggin. It was printed in Southern Life magazine in February 1978 and was one of the most requested recipes ever. Hummingbird cake consists of two layers of cake full of chopped peacan nuts, crushed pineapple and mashed bananas and is filled and frosted with a cream cheese icing. For my hummingbird cupcakes I used the basic hummingbird cake recipe, adapting it to use walnuts instead of peacans. Each cake was topped with a small amount of cream cheese icing as the cakes do not need much, they are sweet in their own right.
Mixing up Hummingbird cupcakes
I have always thought that every good baker needs to own a ceramic mixing bowl. My granny had one, my mum had one and I have always wanted one. They are sturdy, great for mixing and look good in the kitchen. Recently Prezzybox were kind enough to send me one of their personalised mixing bowls to try out. It is a great size and was perfect for mixing up Hummingbird cupcakes. Even better I was able to personalise the bowl with my own message and chose to have “Mixing up magic” written up on the side. I think that is the perfect message for a mixing bowl. If you know a keen baker you could personalise the bowl with a message for them. It costs £24.95 and it is the perfect addition to my kitchen and will get a lot of use.
The hummingbird cupcakes are easy to make, it just involves lots of mixing ingredients and placing them into the oven until they are done. The result is a light and fluffy cake which is gorgeous. The cupcakes will disappear quickly which explains the other name for Hunmningbird cake, the cake that does not last. Fortunately this recipe makes about 24 cupcakes which means everyone should get their fair share.
Hummingbird cupcakes recipe
- 227g butter
- 440g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 bananas, mashed
- 110g crushed pineapple
- 384g plain flour
- 1tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 128g dessicated coconut
- 128g chopped walnuts
- For the frosting
- 220g cream cheese
- 113g butter
- 380g icing sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after adding each one.
- Add the vanilla.
- Mash the banana and combine with the pineapple
- In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and fold into the butter and sugar with the banana mixture. Mix well after each addition.
- Fold in the coconut and walnuts.
- Divide the mixture between cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until springy.
- Leave to cool.
- In a bowl beat the butter until fluffy, add the cream cheese and mix.
- Mix in the icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
- Top each cake with a little frosting
For another summer bake why not try Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes.