Tropical Hummingbird Cake
Weekends are a time for rest, relaxation and renewal. Somehow that concept always escapes me, because I inevitably end up in the kitchen whipping up something new or in this weekend’s case – baking something new.
A local bakery made good – Trophy Cupcakes – has a plethora of sugar laden goodies including a hummingbird cupcakes with light and airy cream cheese frosting that makes one’s heart sing. To top off the confection, literally, it is sprinkled with the most precious of pink, purple, blue and yellow sugar sprinkles. Light dazzles off the crystals just inviting you unceremoniously devour it there on the spot. It wouldn’t be a hummingbird if it wasn’t colorful, vibrant and utterly cheery. Am I right?
To fill the void in my soul left by these cupcakes, I took it upon myself as a sworn duty to recreate this moist (ugh, I hate the word in any other capacity except when it comes to baked goods), and spicy yet fruity cake.
Traditional hummingbird cake includes banana, coconut and pineapple. Hello, gorgeous. Knowing my cake-eating audience, banana wasn’t top of their list of fruit to consume in cake. Noted. Instead, I opted for substituting fresh mango for the wretched banana – and it worked like a dream. It was truly a tropical cake now.
Yes, I know bananas are a tropical fruit, but they seem so ubiquitous in our daily lives that all essence of tropical fruit seems to have been driven from them. Mango on the other hand – to me, screams sandy beaches and umbrella drinks. Just me then? Well, just go with it. Deal?
After peeling the mango and shredding off as much meat as I could I was ready and properly in the tropical spirit. Does anyone know the proper way to extract all the meat off a mango in an efficient and non-piecemeal way? Dang those things are a tasty pain!
1/2 cup of chopped pecans were added to the batter giving it an earthy aura.
As is proper in a hummingbird cake – a cup of crushed pineapple was tossed into the self-rising flour, sugar, pecans, and mango. Along with the necessary eggs, coconut, vanilla and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil this cake was ready to rock. And I was ready to slice me off a piece of that.
The batter was divided into three floured pans pans (I used 9 inch pans yielding thinner layers, 8 inch pans would be ideal). With an angled spatula the batter was smoothed out and put into the oven for 24 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
Once the cake was finished and a toothpick was inserted into the cake and came out clean – the cakes were left to rest in the pan for ten minutes and then turned out to finish cooling.
For the buttercream frosting combine one brick cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1 pound of powdered sugar (about 4 cups), 1/4 tsp coconut extract, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. The key to a good frosting is to make sure your consistency is right. A common misconception I ran into while teaching cake decorating was that cakes needed a crumb layer and then the finished frosting. Not true! If your consistency is thin enough it will not tear your cake apart, it will simply coat the cake.
As a reference – canned frosting from the store is about a ‘medium’ consistency. So if you frost a cake with frosting straight from the can you’ll get the unnecessary crumbs. Thin out that frosting with about 2 teaspoons of water and then frost! Viola! Thin frosting you can actually frost a nice cake with!
If you want other tips and trick on cake decorating – THIS one has a lot of good tips I’ve learned over the years.
In between each layer was a thin layer of frosting was applied and the rest was used to frost the cake itself. Toasted coconut was gently pressed into the rest of the frosting to coat and add texture. About here is where I almost lost my cool and just dug a spoon right into the side of this cake. Toasted coconut is my weakness.
This cake is delicious and even better – simple to make. No complicated steps, and no extremely rare or exotic items you have to trek around town for. You can’t deny it’s impressive to look at with it’s rustic chic coconut coating and swirly frosting on top. Just make it. Have the courage of your convictions and you can’t go wrong!!
Tropical Hummingbird Cake
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
For The Cake
Nonstick vegetable spray
All-purpose flour, for pans
3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 large mango, mashed
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten
For The Frosting
1 pound (1 box) confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
1/2 tsp Coconut Extract
1/2 cup toasted shredded cocnut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 9-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour. Set aside.
Prepare the cake; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, crushed mango, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake for about 11-12 minutes, rotating pans and continue baking for an additional 11-22 minutes. Cook until toothpicks inserted into the cakes come out clean.
Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto wire rack and allow to cool completely.
In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, cream cheese, coconut extract, butter, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach a thin spreading consistency.
Level the tops of each cake with serrated knife or cake leveler. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with about 1/3 cup of frosting. Place second layer of cake on top of first and spread about 1/3 cup of frosting on top of this layer. Place the 3rd and final layer on top of the second layer bottom side up, so when you frost it, there will be no crumbs coming off into the frosting. Spread the 3 layers of cake with the remaining frosting. Swirl the frosting with the back of a spoon to achieve a rustic swirled pattern. Gently press toasted coconut into the sides of the cake until they stick.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Hummingbird cake. 2006.