Loaded with fresh fruit, this four-layer Hummingbird Cake is stacked with a smooth and tangy cream cheese frosting that pairs perfectly with the fruity flavors of the cake. The moist and tender crumb features crunchy toasted pecans and a sweetly tart flavor from the banana and pineapple baked into the batter.
Moist Pineapple Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
Hummingbird cake is originally a Caribbean recipe, and it definitely shows in the moist crumb and tropical flavors. With only 15 minutes of active prep, it makes for a decadent four-layer dessert that’s sure to impress anyone you serve it to.
This cake tastes great any time of year, but fresh summer fruit really takes it to the next level. When the ingredients are in season, the flavors just can’t be matched. But even if all you have is canned pineapple, it’s definitely more than worth making.
What Does Hummingbird Cake Taste Like?
Essentially, a hummingbird cake is a cross between banana bread and a pineapple upside-down cake. With a texture somewhere between pumpkin bread and carrot cake, it has the richness of a banana cake combined with a slight tang from the pineapple. It’s sweet and slightly spiced, with hints of warmth from the cinnamon. It also gets a nice nutty crunch from the pecans baked into the batter.
First, we’ll go over the ingredients for the cake, then move on to the cream cheese frosting. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for exact amounts.
For the Cake
- All-Purpose Flour
- Ground Cinnamon
- Granulated Sugar
- Brown Sugar: Tightly pack this into the measuring cup.
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder: Yes, you need both!
- Vegetable Oil
- Vanilla Extract
- Crushed Pineapple: I love using fresh pineapple, but canned also works.
- Bananas: Make sure these are overripe, with more brown than yellow in the peels.
- Chopped Pecans
For the Frosting
- Cream Cheese: Let this come to room temperature before using it.
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Whole Pecans: These are for decoration.
How To Make Hummingbird Cake
This recipe is super quick to whip up. Most of its time is spent baking, so all you have to do is kick back and let the oven do its thing.
- Prep Your Materials: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
- Combine the Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, both kinds of sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set it aside.
- Combine the Wed Ingredients: Cream together the eggs, oil, pineapple, mashed bananas, vanilla extract and chopped pecans in another bowl. Add the creamed mixture into the dry mixture and beat them until they’re just combined.
- Bake: Evenly divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake your cakes for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of each one comes out clean.
- Start the Frosting: Remove your cakes from the oven and allow them to cool. As they cool, begin beating the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer. Gradually add in the confectioner’s sugar. Mix everything until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
- Separate the Cake Layers: Take one of the two cooled cakes and set it on a cutting board, along with a long piece of unwaxed, unflavored dental floss. Wrap the dental floss around the middle of the cake, then cross the two ends and pull. Insert a spatula between the two layers to separate them. Do the same with the second cake so that you have 4 even layers.
- Stack the Cake: Transfer the first tier onto a cake platter and apply a layer of frosting. Repeat this process until all four layers are stacked. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of your cake.
- Decorate and Serve: Decorate the top of the cake with whole pecans, slice it and serve.
Can I Make It in Advance?
Not only can hummingbird cake be made ahead of time, but it’s actually often better that way! A little extra time for the flavors to blend together really pays off. If you’re planning to serve it within an hour or two after it’s made, you can just leave it covered out on the counter. Longer than that and you’ll want to pop it in the fridge.
Tips for Success
Every time I make this cake, it comes out so tender and wonderful. Follow these tips to get the same results!
- Use Fresh Pineapple: If you have a chance, grab a whole fresh pineapple from the produce aisle and slice it up yourself. Pineapple has a lot more flavor when it’s fresh, but canned will still work if it’s the only thing available.
- Spoon and Level: Don’t scoop your flour directly out of the bag. This packs it in there, giving you a denser and drier cake. Instead, spoon flour into your measuring cup and level it off with the back of the spoon.
- Don’t Over-Mix the Batter: This cake is a bit heavy with all the fruit, so over-folding the batter can push all the air out and make your cake too dense. Just lightly mix it until the streaks are gone.
- Be Careful Not to Over-Bake: Baking your cake longer than needed will make it dry out. Take it out of the oven as soon as the center is set. You’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
- Toast the Nuts: Popping the nuts in the oven for a few minutes before adding them can really help to unlock the flavor. Raw nuts are much blander, and don’t have the same satisfying crunch.
Since it includes cream cheese frosting, this hummingbird cake should only be left out for an hour or two before moving to the refrigerator. You can keep it there for up to 6 days in an airtight container. I definitely recommend taking it out an hour or so before serving it, since it tastes best at room temperature.
Does This Cake Freeze Well?
Absolutely! Freeze it unwrapped for the first 4 hours, or until it’s solid, then wrap it well in a layer of plastic followed by a layer of foil. This will lock the moisture in so it doesn’t dry out. When you’re ready to serve it, move the cake into the refrigerator overnight or let it sit on the counter until it’s fully thawed.
More Fruity Baked Goods to Try
For the Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 oz crushed pineapple, undrained 1 can
- 2 cups bananas mashed (2-3 bananas)
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
For the Frosting
- 32 oz cream cheese (room temp) 4 blocks
- 4-6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter room temp
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- whole pecans for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
- Cream together the eggs, oil, pineapple, mashed bananas, vanilla, and chopped pecans in another bowl. Add the creamed mixture into the dry mixture just until combined. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Take one of the two cooled cakes and set it on a cutting board, along with a long piece of unwaxed, unflavored dental floss. Wrap the dental floss around the middle of the cake, then cross the two ends and pull. Insert a spatula between the two layers to separate.
- As the cake cools, begin mixing the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl or mixer. Gradually add in the confectioners sugar. Mix until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
- Transfer the first tier onto a cake platter and apply a layer of frosting. Repeat this process until all four layers are stacked. Use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of your cake.
- Decorate with the whole pecans.
- To Store: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 6 days. Let come to room temp before serving.
- To Freeze: Freeze unwrapped for 4 hours, or until solid, then wrap well in a layer of plastic followed by a layer of foil. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter.