Friday, April 20, 2007

Hummingbird Cake

A week ago, I had some bananas that were well beyond overripe. I didn't get around to using them for anything until yesterday. The sad banana peels had become almost leathery, but they were so intensely ripe that I figured they'd make for good flavor in a cake or bread.

I'm not sure what drew me to Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking, but flipping the pages of that book turned up a recipe for Hummingbird Cake, which I'd never made before. This cake is a banana-flavored confection with pineapple and pecans, slathered with a cream-cheese icing. Bananas are tropical, so I figured Hummingbird Cake would be good for Lost Lunch Thursday.

I've just done a little online research to try to find out a little more about how Hummingbird Cake got its name. Unfortunately, that is going to remain a mystery because there's nothing definitive as to how that name got stuck to this cake. It is regarded as a Southern treat.

One big difference between the recipes I read online and the one I used is that Elinor's recipe uses butter rather than cooking oil as the fat. All in all, I like using butter rather than oil when I can. The cake layers turned out great, but when I was transferring them to the cake dome, I perceived that they were pretty heavy -- so much so that I was enormously, pleasantly surprised to discover how light the cake tasted. Once again, I've unearthed a recipe from a veteran cookbook and am left wondering why I haven't made this cake before. All I can think is this: so many recipes, so little time.


Obscure Reference said...

That looks as moist as a carrot cake. I would venture to guess that the name probably has to due with the fruity sweetness. I'm thinking about how one can attract hummingbirds with a simple mix of sugar water. Also some of the names given to other foods by southerners are as descriptive, such as "Shoo Fly Pie". Just a guess though.

When I make a cake, I never have enough icing to put on as thickly as your cakes wear it. Do you double the icing batch? (Or do I consume to much before it is needed on the cake? -ha-)

Chris H. said...

As usual, I don't think my photography does justice to the cake. I also don't think that I did this Hummingbird Cake any favors by photographing a leftover piece that had traveled to work, then home again.

It is a remarkably moist cake. I'm kind of tempted to try a side-by-side comparison of this recipe vs. one made with oil as the fat.

<< (Or do I consume to much before it is needed on the cake? -ha-) >>

Of course, one must sample as one works to make sure that the recipe is working out properly, right? Ha.

godogo said...

You mean to tell me there are NO hummingbirds in this? :shock: Where's the truth in advertising? :p

Looks delicious!