Hummingbird Cake is not made with hummingbirds; it is traditionally made with bananas, pineapple, cinnamon and pecans. The origin of the cake is shrouded in mystery but the first published reference to the dessert was in February 1978. Southern Living printed Mrs. L. H. Wiggin’s recipe, without an explanation from her about the origin of the name. I am serving a less conventional version of the cake for our Easter dinner. A rendition of the classic, recently featured in Better Homes & Gardens, omits the pecans and cinnamon but adds sweet potatoes and cloves; the icing is caramel instead of cream cheese.
Hummingbird Cake with Caramel Icing
Ingredients for Cake:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups bananas, mashed (about 5 medium)
1 cup cooking oil
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 cups peeled, shredded uncooked sweet potatoes (about 1/2 lb.)
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
Ingredients for Caramel Frosting:
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 cups powdered sugar
1. Let eggs stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 9 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed or parchment paper. Grease and flour paper.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Beat in bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add sweet potatoes and pineapple until combined. Spread evenly in prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 minutes (I baked about 7 minutes longer) or until pick inserted near centers come out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off paper. Cool completely (usually 2 hours or more).
4. Prepare Caramel Butter Frosting: In large saucepan melt butter; add brown sugar. Bring to boiling over medium heat; stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute; cool 5 minutes. Whisk in milk until smooth. Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Use at once; frosting stiffens as it cools. Makes 4 cups.
5. Place one layer, flat side up, on plate. Spread top of each layer only with 1 and 1/3 cups frosting. Stack and frost remaining layers. Serves 16.