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Martha's Recipe: Hummingbird Cake

3 Minute Read

Spring brings warmer weather, longer days, and lots of reasons to gather with friends and family. Perhaps you are planning a Mother’s Day brunch or a graduation party. Regardless of the occasion, I love serving up my favorite spring recipes. The Hummingbird Cake is no exception! It was created over 30 years ago and truly is the quintessential Southern dessert. Bon appetite, ya’ll!

Southern Living magazine is credited with the first reference to Hummingbird Cake. The recipe was published in its February 1978 issue, submitted by a Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, NC. But Mrs. Wiggins did not include an explanation of the cake's unusual name, which remains a mystery. However, folklore has it that the hummingbird is a symbol of sweetness.


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
2 cups chopped, overripe bananas

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, undrained pineapple, 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans, and bananas.
  2. Spoon batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans.


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2 (16-ounce) packages powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts for garnish

  1. Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Garnish cake with remaining chopped pecans.
  3. For a beautiful presentation, garnish with dried bananas and whole pecans as shown in picture. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

TIP: Buy your bananas a couple of weeks ahead of time to give them plenty of time to become overripe. I make this cake and other banana desserts so often that I buy a large bunch of bananas and let them turn really dark. Then I place them in their skins in the freezer. When I need them, I simply set them out on the counter to thaw.

The beauty of this cake is it’s even better made a day or two before serving. This allows you more time to prepare last-minute dishes for your celebration.

Get more recipes and behind-the-scenes news straight from Martha by following her on Twitter @marthas_place.

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