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.
- 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)
- 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.