I had this delicious piece of cake at Peets when I met my friend Roli for coffee one morning called Hummingbird Cake. It was moist and light, chock full of nuts, with a soft cream cheese frosting, that was just perfect 😋. I assumed it was called hummingbird cake because of all the nuts in the cake, because it reminded me of a birdseed mixture – you know what I mean? But as it turns out when I was looking for a recipe for hummingbird cake what I found out is that the reason it is called a hummingbird cake is because it tastes so good that it makes people hum – go figure 🤔.
What got me motivated to make a hummingbird cake this spring is the opportunity to decorate the cake with spring blooming nasturtiums. These nasturtium blooms were looking so glorious in my springtime garden that I wanted to show them off in a beautiful dessert. A hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting made for the perfect backdrop for these lovely blossoms.
For those of your interested, here is a bit of cake history 🎂😀.
According to Southern Living Magazine, Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina created Hummingbird Cake back in 1978. She shared her recipe for Hummingbird Cake with the magazine, which is a pineapple-banana spice cake with cream cheese frosting. This recipe is the most requested recipe in the history of Southern Living Magazine and is a Southern favorite. Hummingbird Cake from Southern Living Magazine
The recipe I chose to make my hummingbird cake
There are many recipes out there for Hummingbird Cake; I chose to make the one from Allrecipes.com Hummingbird Cake. I found their ingredients and instructions to be very easy to follow and the cake looked just like the one I had at Peets, minus the nasturtium flowers – that was my addition 😊. I love any recipe that reads “Mix all ingredients together with hand.” When was the last time you could use your hands to make a cake batter 🙌🏽?? I did modify this recipe as I recalled the Peets hummingbird cake having the flavors of cinnamon and spices. In my cake I added sweet spices and vanilla, here is the recipe with my additions.
adapted from Allrecipes.com Hummingbird Cake
with a few additions
makes two 9-inch cakes
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp pumpkin spice or allspice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups mashed bananas from 2 bananas
- 1 cup chopped black walnuts (I used regular walnuts)
- Shredded coconut for the decoration (1 cup)
- 20 nasturtium blossoms
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. I used parchment paper at the bottom of the cake pans and then greased and floured them. This will assure that the cake comes out clean when cooked.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon powder, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the oil, eggs, pineapple, bananas, and vanilla.
- Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, add nuts and mix together by hand.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in center of each pan comes out clean, about 50 min – 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on racks for 1 hour before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
For the cream cheese frosting I chose the recipe from Food Network’s Paula Deen’s Hummingbird Cake Cream Cheese Frosting. But I cut the sugar and butter in half, as I found the original taste to be too sweet and too buttery. Here is my modified recipe. This will make enough frosting for a light cream cheese coating on the two cakes. The cake would probably look even better if the frosting is slathered on a thicker layer. To do this, double the recipe.
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 stick butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the frosting by blending together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Decorate the Hummingbird Cake:
- Make the Hummingbird Cake in two 9″ cake pans and cool for 1 hour. Once the cake is cooled spread the cream cheese frosting evenly all around the cakes.
- Pick 20 nasturtium blossoms (this is enough for 1 cake). In a bowl set aside 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut.
- Using your hands gently press shredded coconut all around the sides of the cake. Then decorate the top of cake with nasturtium blooms starting from the center. Place a flower at the center and then start adding blooms in circles around the center bloom. Do this by just sticking the stem of the blossoms into the cream cheese.
Cook’s Notes: I noticed the cake looks the prettiest when the blooms are just sitting on the cake rather than pressing the bloom down into a flattened flower, which I did in some areas of the cake but realized it didn’t look as beautiful as the blooms that were floating gently on the cake.
Hummingbird Cake with Nasturtium Blossoms is ready!
There is no need to place the cake in the refrigerator, as the nasturtium blooms tend to wilt in the cold of the fridge.
Though I made the cake and decorated it in the late afternoon, the nasturtium blooms surprisingly stayed fresh all evening and into dinner time for almost 6 hours!
The kids and I realized later that the reason these blooms stayed so happy for so long is because just like people these blooms were all perky on a sugar high from the stems sitting on the sweetened cream cheese frosting 😀🍰.
I will post a second recipe for Hummingbird Cake with toasted pecans, edible pansies, and yellow nasturtiums.
Mother’s Day Tip 💝
With Mother’s Day coming up, why not try making these Hummingbird Cakes with Nasturtium Blooms and edible flowers.