Country Cleaver

Cookin' My Way Back to the Country

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

Yield: 12

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

PrintPrint Recipe


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.

Tropical Hummingbird Cake - Mango, pineapple, walnuts and cream cheese frosting


31 Responses to “Tropical Hummingbird Cake”

  1. #
    Kathryn — May 7, 2012 @ 2:15 am

    What a gorgeous looking cake, I love that coconut jacket that it’s wearing! And great idea to use mango too – I’m not a big banana fan but I really dig those tropical flavours. I’ll take a big slice for breakfast please!

  2. #
    Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau — May 7, 2012 @ 4:50 am

    Would you believe I’ve never had Hummingbird Cake?? This cake is beautiful and has ALL the flavors I love.

  3. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — May 7, 2012 @ 5:00 am

    so i’m not gonna lie, every time I read “hummingbird” on your tweet/IG and now, this, the song to Katy Perry’s “hummingbird heartbeat” just keeps playing/jamming in my head. hahaha, have you heard it? i highly suggest it if you wanna be pumped up for the day. and i haven’t started my cake yet…i’m at work but leaving early, which is perfect cause you posted this and it’s so so gorgeous!! i’ve never had hummingbird cake before..never heard of it til now!!…go listen to this:

  4. #
    Rachel Cooks — May 7, 2012 @ 6:05 am

    This looks so perfect, love that you used mango!

  5. #
    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — May 7, 2012 @ 6:22 am

    Love that you made it tropical! Looks fantastic Megan!!

  6. #
    Cassie — May 7, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    What a flavor combo. I love mango, I just got some at our market this weekend. This cake looks incredibly moist!

  7. #
    NanaBread (Jeanne) — May 7, 2012 @ 6:30 am

    I grew up eating Hummingbird Cake, but I’ve never had it with a tropical twist. It looks fabulous! I absolutely love that you’re not afraid to think outside the box, Megan. Way to rock the mango.

  8. #
    Jen @ Juanita's Cocina — May 7, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    This looks amazing!!! I love hummingbird cake but have never made one! I love your addition of the mango!

  9. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — May 7, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    This cake is beautiful! I love hummingbird cake. And mangoes! Though I agree they are a pain to take apart. I often just buy frozen mango to save me from the hassle, lol.

  10. #
    DessertForTwo — May 7, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    You’re totally going to think I copied you because I have hummingbird cupcakes in the cue for the coming weeks. Oops!

  11. #
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits — May 7, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    I seriously couldn’t stop thinking about this since I saw you post it on instagram! The frosting looks perfect. And I love that you rid this cake of bananas, I loath them. And the mango is so perfect.

  12. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — May 7, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    I want to face plant into that cake!! It seriously looks delicious!

    Also, love your nail polish color. Is it OPI?

  13. #
    TastefullyJulie — May 7, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

    I’ve never had hummingbird cake but every time I see it, it looks amazing. I think I have to put it on my bucket list.

  14. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — May 7, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

    Lovely cake! I love all the flavors that are going in here, and it’s just in time for summer! 🙂

  15. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — May 8, 2012 @ 6:28 am

    Oh my deliciousness! Megan this sounds AHH-mazing!

    • Megan replied: — May 8th, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

      Thanks Laurie! I adored the coconut cream cheese frosting. I have a new favorite haha

  16. #
    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) — May 8, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    Gorgeous! and I’m sure delicious!

  17. #
    Monica — May 8, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    Oh my! I’ve never even heard if a hummingbird cake…but this looks awesome! I will need to make it and rename it a Hawaiian cake! Mangos are indeed a pain–which is why I most commonly throw them in smoothies where no one will see my poor cutting skills ;).
    Love this! A great summer dessert!

  18. #
    Kat — May 8, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    1. Most all of my workout gear is Champion as well. It’s indestructible and comfortable.

    2. Would it be wrong if I were to only make the frosting? Or is that too depraved?

  19. #
    Kirsten — May 8, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    I was drooling over the frosting when you mentioned it on Twitter, and now that I see that the cake calls for mango, I’m IN! I have a lonely, ripe mango on the windowsill that now has a purpose in life.

  20. #
    Baking Serendipity — May 8, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

    The mango in this is such a perfect adaptation! And the coconut makes it so pretty 🙂

  21. #
    sarah — May 9, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Beautiful!! I’ve actually never tried Hummingbird Cake; I would always choose something chocolate-y over coconut. But, you might have changed my mind about things, Ms. Megan. 😉

  22. #
    val — May 9, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

    I’m about to jump through this screen and gobble that cake up in one sitting.

  23. #
    Meg — May 9, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    wow this cake looks absolutely amazing!! i have always wanted to try a hummingbird cake, now i definitely want to try this one in particular for my first taste of a hummingbird cake

  24. #
    Mal @ The Chic Geek — May 10, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    I’ve never heard of this type of cake, sounds yummy!

  25. #
    Rachel — May 12, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    This looks amazing! Will the icing taste ok if I refrigerate it overnight before icing the cake?

  26. #
    Jolynn — May 13, 2015 @ 12:45 am

    Help!!!!! I made this cake today for my friend’s birthday and I followed the instructions which is to combine all the ingredients, then mix them together (right?) however, my cakes turned out quite dense and have many holes in it. Why is that so?? is that the correct texture?? Please help!! T_T thank you so much! 

  27. #
    JESS — June 11, 2016 @ 6:56 am

    helllo! two questions: 1) do u refrigerate the cake layers before frosting? 2) have u used coconut cream instead of coconut extract plus milk?

    • Megan replied: — June 11th, 2016 @ 9:39 pm

      Hi Jess! Yes, you can refrigerate the layers before frosting, but it’s not imperative. I have not tried using coconut cream, but it’s intriguing!


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