Walnut Hummingbird Cake
Chef Scott Peacock
This towering layer cake makes for a showstopper of a dessert on a holiday table or at any celebratory get-together. The hummingbird cake is traditionally made with bananas and pineapple, tying it back to its Jamaican roots, but it has since become popular in the South. The baked layers are usually filled and iced with a rich cream cheese frosting. Here, chopped walnuts round out the cake with a bit of crunch.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed or canned crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter
1½ lb. cream cheese, chilled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups chopped walnuts
Walnut halves, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Cover bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper or waxed paper, cut to fit, pressing the paper snugly over bottom of pan.
- Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; sift together into large bowl or onto a large sheet of waxed paper. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar and brown sugar; add eggs and stir vigorously until smoothly blended with sugar. Whisk in oil and vanilla.
- Add flour mixture all at once and stir just until moistened and ingredients are evenly combined; do not beat. Add pineapple, bananas and walnuts; stir just until blended.
- Divide batter among three prepared cake pans, spreading it evenly. After filling pans, give each one a bang on the countertop to dislodge any air bubbles in the batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cakes spring back when pressed gently with a finger and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center of layers comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes; remove layers from pans and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting. If the parchment or waxed paper has clung to the layers, peel it off.
- For frosting, cut butter into 2-inch pieces and put in large mixing bowl. With electric mixer at low speed, beat chilled butter, gradually increasing speed to medium until it becomes malleable, yet still cool, about 3 or 4 minutes. Cut cream cheese into 2-inch pieces; add to butter. Continue beating on medium until smooth and thoroughly blended. Add vanilla; gradually add confectioners’ sugar and mix until blended. Increase speed slightly and continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, until frosting becomes light and fluffy. By hand, fold in the walnuts.
- Fill and frost cake layers with frosting, covering top and sides. Garnish with walnut halves.
Photo courtesy of California Walnuts