So the very best thing about my age and station in life is that, when it’s my birthday, I get to make exactly what I want. One thing I’ve noticed is that, though I bake all sorts of cakes for all sorts of occasions throughout the year, when it’s pure and simply what I like, that ol’ hummingbird cake is bound to fly into my head and out of my kitchen.
It’s incredibly easy and makes quite the statement. If I were an adroit cake decorator, which I’m not, it could be gorgeous. When I make it, I think it still makes a statement, if not of peerless beauty, then of old-fashioned, homemade avoirdupois. It’s quite a monster, as I was reminded earlier today when I hefted that big boy into the fridge in the basement to straighten its tie for tomorrow.
The recipe is adapted from my beloved James Villas in his book, “My Mother’s Southern Kitchen,” and take it from me, it’s a real keeper. I recommend that the next time you get a wild hair to make a really splendid birthday cake, and one with a lilting southern accent, this is the one to tackle. Don’t worry if like mine, it’s not completely symmetrical . Yours isn’t a vision of perfection? Don’t give it a second thought. In fact, I recommend you throw caution to the wind, and make it for your very own birthday, as I do. It’s just so delightful to know that once your loved ones dig in, they’ll think your birthday is the very best day of the year. Well, after mine of course.
makes one 9 -inch cake to serve 12
For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas
For the frosting:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 lb. confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the eggs and il and stir till the dry ingredients are only just moistened. Stir in the vanilla, pineapple, pecans and bananas.
Divide the batter between the three pans and bake till a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cook in the pans 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and cream with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, beat until light and fluffy, and stir in the vanilla.
Spread the frosting between the cakes stacked on a cake plate, frost the top and sides of the cake, and sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top.
Happy Birthday to you!