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Sweet as nectar...
I found several explanations for the name of this Southern Classic - one story is that the cake is so good that you'll hum with pleasure from the first bite. Another is that this cake is as sweet as the nectar sipped by hummingbirds in the spring and summer. Either way, this cake is one of the most beloved and popular in the South - appearing usually with the advent of spring.
This one is one of my favorites - I've been making versions of hummingbird cakes for years now, and I've finally settled on this one as my favorite. The flavor is intense, the cake is moist, and the frosting is the crowning touch. I usually don't bother with the extra pecans when making this one for my family, but if for 'company' I'll use them. This one also adapts very well to a six layer cake if you just can't resist the wow factor...which I usually can't!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped firm ripe bananas
Optional: 1 cup of very finely chopped pecans - use these if you wish to decorate the cake with them - press them into the sides of the cake.
How to Make Vanilla Extract
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Prepare three 9 inch cake pans with butter and flour.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, making sure all ingredients are well combined.
- Add beaten eggs and vegetable oil to the flour mixture, stirring well.
- Add vanilla, drained pineapple and pecans. Mix to combine, and stir in chopped bananas.
- Divide batter evenly between the three prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until springy to the touch on top, and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely before frosting. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
- If you'd like to turn the three layer cake into six layers, slice each layer horizontally with a large serrated bread knife. Turn each cut layer bottom side up - this gives a nice flat, crumb-free top to fill and frost.
If you'd like, you can toast and very finely chop an additional cup or two of pecans. Use these to press a decorative layer into the cream cheese frosting.
This cake also benefits from a rest time in the refrigerator before serving - and the fridge is the best place to store it. Don't worry - it won't last long!
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