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Thursday
Nov012007

Things That Make You Go Hum: The Hummingbird Cake of Baker Boys and More

Hummingbird cake. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is like carrot cake, but instead of carrots, it has banana and tiny bits of pineapple and nuts. Originally from the Deep South, the origin of the name is a bit of a mystery; some say that it's because it's so good it makes you "hum with happiness".

However, we prefer another explanation, that its sweetness causes people to hover around it, like hummingbirds around sweet nectar. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when we first encountered the Hummingbird cake at Baker Boys of Ocean Grove, NJ, a bakery opened earlier this year by the charming Russell Lewis (who cites Billy's Bakery and the Buttercup Bakeshop as inspirations). With dense, moist, subtly spiced banana cake layers and thick, buttery frosting, it was one of those cake slices that is pretty much impossible to stop eating until it's gone--and that will leave you aching for more. We've heard that crack has this effect too, but we digress.

And while the store employee told us that Red Velvet was the most popular flavor, we at Cakespy believe that another cake is going to cause a stir--er, make that a hum, once word gets around.

The Baker Boys is located at 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove, NJ. 

Cakespy Note: Not in NJ? We feel your pain, so we tried out a Hummingbird cake recipe ourselves, from Whole Foods (we've generally been happy with their recipes). We opted to make it into cupcakes instead; here's the recipe, with a picture of our results.

Hummingbird Cake (from the Whole Foods Website)
  • 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached organic white flour
  • 1 3/4 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large organic eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple with its own juice, (do not drain)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups organic bananas, chopped (about 4 medium)

  • Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, (use organic if available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3–4 tablespoons organic low fat milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly spray or oil a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Combine flour with sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs with the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and pineapple until well combined. Add this egg mixture to the dry ingredients, incorporating all ingredients well. Add the pecans and bananas, mixing well, until all ingredients are combined. Spoon the batter into prepared baking dish. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done when tested in the center with a toothpick. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar with the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and the milk, stirring with a wire whisk. The glaze should spread easily. Pour the glaze over the cake and using a rubber spatula, spread evenly across the entire top of the cake. As the glaze sets it hardens a bit.

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Reader Comments (8)

You have a great site :) I love hummingbird cake! My favorite part about it is using dried pineapple to make bird-friendly "flowers." I have an old picture of one I made in the July archives of my blog with a link to the Martha Stewart recipe I used.

November 2 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I'm ashamed to say that I've never heard of Hummingbird Cake.. and I'm from the South! I guess I'll have to bake one to make up for that. It sounds tasty.

November 2 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

Have mercy, that sounds good!

November 3 | Unregistered Commentersurcie

Yes--it really is like hummingbirds to sweet nectar when a cake like this is out. It's not for the faint of heart, but is deliciously rich. Alicia--I hope you'll get to try it soon! Erin--I found your Hummingbird cake, it gave me a laugh to read about your issues with the bananas :-)

And Surcie--yes--it really is as good as it sounds!

November 4 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

The Baker Boys is like a crack den to me--I'm constantly thinking about getting there to make a score. The cupcakes great but don't neglect the cookies (kitchen sink!) and 'carrot cake for two'. I outsourced my holiday baking this year and gave my close friends cupcakes from The Baker Boys. Now they're all itching for their next 'score'! Thanks for the feature on this little gem.

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