I have no idea why this cake is called a hummingbird cake. I did a quick search on the web and came up with no definitive answer. Some say that this cake is so good that you will hum while eating it. Others say that birds are drawn to sweet nectar and the sweetness of pineapple is reminiscent of nectar. I found a lot of references to the cake being of Southern US origins but no one knows for certain. The ingredients were as varied as the theories on the name. But most recipes seem to have pineapple and banana, but I also saw some recipes which included coconut, mango and nuts (mainly pecans).
I got this recipe from Emily Luchetti's Four-Star Desserts cookbook and she got it from an Australian chef who used to serve this cake in her Perth cafe. I opted for a basic cream cheese frosting to top my cupcakes. But no matter the origin or ingredients, this is a wonderful tropical inspired cupcake. And it's made even prettier when topped with a dried pineapple "hibiscus flower". I wish I could take credit for the pineapple flower idea, but I learned about it from "the Martha". Maybe my crepe cake would've been better with flowers?
Adapted from Emily Luchetti's Four-Star Desserts
(makes 24 cupcakes)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups diced banana (no larger than 1/4-inch dice)
1 1/4 cups diced fresh pineapple (1/4-inch dice)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 (3.5-4 fl oz capacity) muffin wells with paper cupcake liners.
Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice into a large mixing bowl. Stir in melted butter, eggs and vanilla until just combined. Gently fold in pineapple and banana.
Fill the muffin wells about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 23 to 27 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool in muffin pan for about 5 minutes and then gently remove them from pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(enough to frost 24 cupcakes)
One 8-ounce brick of cream cheese, softened at room temp.
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
With an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon, beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar until well combined. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before frosting your cupcakes.
Dried Pineapple Flowers
From Martha Stewart
(makes 2 dozen "flowers")
2 large or 4 small pineapples
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets.
Peel pineapple and remove the "eyes" with a melon baller. Leave the center core. Using a sharp knife, cut pineapple crosswise into very thin slices. (You can use a mandoline to slice your pineapples if they are small.)
Transfer pineapple slices to baking sheets. Bake until tops look dried, about 30 minutes.
Flip slices and bake until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more.
Pinch the center of each dried pineapple slice to shape into a cone (it's easier to pinch you've left the core). Let cool in a clean egg carton (or something similar) to form flowers. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
~ Because of the cream cheese frosting, I store the frosted cupcakes in refrigerator. I would let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
~ In addition to cinnamon, I used a bit of allspice in my cupcakes. I think pineapple goes really well with allspice. Feel free to leave it out.
~ My pineapple slices were a bit on the thick side since my pineapple was too ripe. Thinner slices would be better.