Hummingbird Bundt Cake for an Icy Day

We spent last week with snow and ice and power outage (only part of one day, thankfully!) and with a tree down in the backyard and only one day of school that wasn't cancelled or a two hour delay.  We spent the day without power (possibly the excitement of Nick's whole year? THE BLACKOUT he calls it with glee!) at my parents' house in pajamas.  We knew it would most likely be a snow/ice day and I had been thinking about this cake for a week and planned to make it for breakfast, so I hauled the ingredients over with us and made it there and got to take a photo of my mom's original recipe card while I was cooking. 

Every so often my mom hands me a few recipes.  Some torn out of magazines, some photocopied, some she's written.  They're things she remembers as her favorite recipes and she wants me to have them while she's thinking of them. Most of them are recipes I remember her making at some point and some are random (there's a copied Jell-O Pudding Dirt Cups recipe somewhere in the stack.) Pignoli Cookies, her meatballs, an ice cream cake that a coworker made, the sweet potato casserole that she found in a newspaper one year that has been on our Thanksgiving table ever since, her neighbor's sister's ambrosia, an apple crumb cake that's the best darn apple dessert you'll EVER taste.  

For all of them, she writes notes.  I'm slowly working my way through and re-writing them myself because even though her handwriting looks pretty, it's crazy hard to read and I know that one day I won't be able to ask her what the heck it says.  But most of the notes I won't forget - she tells us little bits and pieces regularly that I'll likely be telling my kids for a long time. Pancakes and eggs need a HOT pan and the pan isn't ready until you throw drops of water in the pan and they sizzle immediately.  Keep holiday recipes simple and traditional.  Always mix cornstarch with cool liquid and flour with warm liquid.  She tells us repeatedly and we all act annoyed, but when she isn't there, we can repeat the instructions to each other from memory and they're things we won't forget.

This Hummingbird Cake ranks as one of my favorite recipes from her.  I never really realized that Hummingbird Cake was a "thing" until I researched it.  She got it from a neighbor before I was born when my parents lived in California while my Dad was in Grad school in the Navy.  She didn't even realize that the recipe got popular when a magazine ran it years ago, she just thought it was something from her neighbor.  I searched a bit and quickly found more info - Southern Living ranks their Hummingbird Cake as their most requested recipe since it ran in 1978.  This article has even more interesting info, but she laughed when I told her all of this as I sat at her kitchen table making the cake and just kept telling me what to do and giving helpful bits of info (like NOT to mash the bananas, just to dice them!) as I said, "MOM! I KNOW how to cook!" 

 I think I like it because it's an easy cake.  It's sort of a cross between banana bread and the moist denseness and nuts of a carrot cake.  The original version in Southern Living is a layered cake that has a cream cheese frosting that sounds great, but this version skips that. The cake itself is more than enough with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.  

Her notes include a big reminder to not mash the bananas all of the way - it's better with a few chunks in there.  She also replaced the original pecans with walnuts, because they're less expensive.  I've done it with both and they both work.  I do this in a bundt cake because I like it that way, and it's how she makes it, but you could easily do this as a regular cake. 

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup oil
1 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple
3 eggs
2 cups diced ripe bananas (if yours aren't ripe, bake them at 350 until the skins are black and they'll be good to go)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in wet ingredients. 
Stir until moist.  (Do not beat!) 
Spoon the batter into the greased, floured pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cross your fingers that it comes out without breaking and flip it over and out of the bundt pan to cool onto a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.  
Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  


  1. This looks amazing!! And, as always, gorgeous photos.

  2. Thanks for the banana "quick ripening" trick....never heard but will remember! Plan to bake this right away. ---Marti


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