Recipe for Excellent Maple Sugar-Sweetened Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake originated in Jamaica, where it was called a “Doctor Bird” cake, which is the nickname for the Red-billed Streamertail, a member of the hummingbird family.

Presumably, the banana and pineapple cake got its name because it was so full of fruit that it attracted hummingbirds. Once the recipe came to the Southern US in a marketing pamphlet from the Jamaican Tourist Bureau, the cake’s name shifted to Hummingbird Cake and pecans were added to the recipe. Whatever its name, this cake is very flavorful and also extremely easy to make. You basically toss everything in one bowl, mix it well and pour it either into two cake pans or a bundt pan. Once it’s done and has cooled, just slather it with cream cheese frosting and top with roasted pecans.

I have included the original recipe, which is sweetened with refined sugar, and put my substitutions in parentheses. Either way, I hope you’ll try it. It is a truly excellent cake and perfect with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Here’s the recipe:

Hummingbird Cake


Cake Batter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (or 1 3/4 cups maple sugar and 1/4 cup honey)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
3/4 cup canola oil (or coconut oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


4 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (or 1/2 cup honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk (no milk if using honey)


1. Prepare Cake Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 4 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle 1 cup toasted pecans into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon batter over pecans.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).
4. Prepare Glaze: Process cream cheese, powdered sugar (or honey) vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a food processor until well blended. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, processing until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted pecans.


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