14 In Desserts

Humming Bird Cake: A Southern Treat

Humming Bird Cake | ForTheFeast.com #Cake

The Humming Bird Cake is one of the most requested and treasured cakes of the South. 

There are a few theories on how the cake received it’s name.

One theory states it’s the sound people make when they take a bite as they hum happily away.

The other theory has to do with the sweetness of the cake like nectar from a flower that a humming birds treasures.

I personally love this cake. I think it will make you and your guest hum in delight.

Humming Bird Cake

Humming Bird Cake

Pan Notes: I like to use 3 round pans. Bottom pan was a 9 inch round and the 2 top pans where 8.5 inch round. I used the 9 inch round as the base of the cake.

Icing Notes: When making the icing you will need to adjust depending on where you are. If you are in a dryer climate you will need more butter. If you are in a humid climate like me then you will need less butter in your icing.

Assembly Notes: If you want to stabilize your cake because you might be taking it somewhere you can take straws and cut them to the appropriate size and stick it in the center through the 3 layers. This will secure the cake. Since I wasn’t going anywhere I didn’t do this at all and the cake was fine. I just wanted to give you that option.

Icing the Cake: Cut strips of parchment and tuck around the base of the cake so that when you apply the icing it won’t leave a mess.

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Humming Bird Cake Recipe

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  • Author: Carrie Pacini
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



Cake Batter

  • 3 Cups of Sifted All Purpose Flour (I like to use Farino Tipo 00 – An Italian Flour, note: you can also use Cake Flour)
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans
  • 4 Egg Whites (beat until stiff peaks)
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

Cake Icing

  • 1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon milk, or more if needed
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped pecans


Steps to Prepare and Bake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. If your oven browns quickly then take it down 15 to 20 degrees.
  2. Cream the mashed bananas with sugar and add vanilla.
  3. Next add 4 separated egg yolks + pineapple. Mix and beat until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients: Sifted flour, cinnamon and the baking soda.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture a little at a time alternating with the 3/4 cup of olive oil.
  6. Next mix in pecans.
  7. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until you have stiff peaks.
  8. With a spatula, gently fold your egg whites into the batter by making the figure 8 pattern.
  9. Spoon the batter into your three pans and make them as even as you can.
  10. Bake until light brown, which should be about 30 minutes (use a toothpick in the center and make sure no batter is on the stick).
  11. When the cake layers are finished baking let them cool before you take them out of the pans.
  12. Once the layers are cool, place them on parchment paper and use a brush to dust off the crumbs (easier to ice).
  13. Next Cream all of the ingredients together for the icing in this order: Sugar, Cream Cheese, Butter, Vanilla, and 1 tablespoon Milk. If needed add a teaspoon of milk at a time to get to a consistency that you like.
  14. After the icing is mixed start to assemble the cake by taking one of the layers of cake and making it your base. Stick strips of parchment paper around the bottom of the cake. Ice the top of it and add the next layer of cake and ice the top of it adding your final layer of cake.
  15. Now start to ice the sides and the top of the cake until covered. Sprinkle with finely chopped pecans.
  16. Refrigerate the cake until you are going to slice and serve!


  • Serving Size: 12

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  • Reply
    Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen
    May 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I will always remember the “nectar” theory behind its name. I wonder how it tastes..

  • Reply
    July 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    My mama used to make this cake as well as a coconut pecan cake that was also delicious…this is very similar to her recipe which i had lost… thanks for the memory rush!!

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      August 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

      You are welcome :)

  • Reply
    March 2, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Hi Carrie, want to know why we should separated the eggs ,and how much juice cause my can of pineapple is about500g. Thank you

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      March 15, 2015 at 6:27 am

      8 ounces of pineapple juice is about 240 grams. Separating the egg yolks and whites creates a lovely cake that’s light in texture, and using the yolks separately ensures your dessert will hold together well. The yolk is the protein that binds the flour, sugar, and fat together.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I love cream cheese, but my husband doesn’t. What would your suggestion be for substitutions in the icing recipe that would still be delicious?

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      April 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Celia, What about a good buttercream frosting. That would be really nice with this cake if you don’t want to use the cream cheese.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I made the Authentic Italian Cream cake for a special birthday, with fabulous results – they devoured it! This Hummingbird cake will be my next cake baked. Just looking for an occasion.
    I was hoping you had a carrot cake recipe as good as the Italian Cream. Wondering if I could substitute carrots for the banana, and what quantity of grated carrot I would use. I’m thinking 2 cups or so. I guess we’ll have to suffer through testing. . . .
    Thank you! New to this site, and loving it.

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      July 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Kathleen, my mom has a carrot cake recipe :) I will see about featuring that on the site soon. Best, Carrie

  • Reply
    Jessie KRUMMEL
    December 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    i can’t decide between Italian cream cake or humming bird cake, it’s for a bake off so any advice?

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      December 7, 2015 at 7:35 am

      They are both delicious but for a bake off I would do the Italian Cream Cake!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    voy a intentar esta receta maravillosa, tengo un cumpleaños que celebrar y me lo estoy imaginando ya. esperare la receta del pastel de zanahoria¡¡ felicidades por tu página

  • Reply
    July 9, 2016 at 5:23 am

    This cake was delicious! Thank you for a winning recipe

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