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Hummingbird Cake

Some say this southern layer cake earned its name because each otherworldly bite makes you hum with delight. Another theory is that it's as sweet as the sugared water used to attract its hovering namesake.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch layer cake
Hummingbird Cake

Photography: Alan Benson

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2003


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 3 large) mashed ripe banana
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans
  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Dried Pineapple Flowers, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust pans with flour, tapping out any excess; set pans aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.

  2. Place butter, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow.

  3. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; blend well.

  4. Divide mixture between prepared pans. Bake until golden brown, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.

  5. Transfer pans to a baking rack to cool. Let pans cool 15 minutes before unmolding. Loosen sides with a small metal spatula or a paring knife, and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent layers form splitting, invert again, so tops are up. Cool completely before assembling cake or wrapping airtight to freeze cake for later.

  6. Using a serrated knife, trim the top of one layer (it is okay if the second layer is a bit rounded, for it becomes the top of the cake).

  7. To assemble, place trimmed layer on serving platter. Spread the top with a 1/4-inch layer of frosting. Top with the untrimmed top layer. Lightly coat the assembled cake with a thin layer of frosting to protect against crumbs in the frosting. Finish with remaining frosting. Decorate with dried pineapple flowers, if desired. Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Reviews (2)

  • kvnsgrl 8 Oct, 2013

    Not my favorite, but everyone in my family loved it.

  • Texasanne 24 Feb, 2012

    Made this cake for the 2nd time; reduced the butter to 1 stick salted plus 1/3 cup canola oil, reduced the amt. of salt to 1/4 tsp., used half white sugar and half brown sugar, and used regular sweetened shredded coconut (because that is what I had), and it was delicious! I also used reduced fat cream cheese in the icing, and reduced the amt. of butter in the icing. Great results! A friend said he wanted me to make, not just one, but 10 more cakes for him!

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