Hummingbird Cake

This wonderful banana-pineapple cake has been around for nearly 30 years, and I used to think its name came from the fact that when you tasted it the flavor was so good it caused you to hum. But Southern food writers Martha Pearl Villas and her son Jim Villas say the cake might have been so named because it is so sweet, and hummingbirds are known for their love of sugar water. I briefly thought about renaming this cake the Banana Banshee Cake when my infant, John, wailed impatiently as he watched me slather on the frosting. But once I fed him a nibble, a smile broke through and he was humming.

 solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
 flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25-ounce) plain yellow cake mix
1 can (8-ounce) crushed pineapple packed in juice, undrained
2  medium or 3 small ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (1 cup)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil*
3  large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, pineapple with its juice, mashed bananas, water, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and the fruit well blended. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it down with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 30 to 32 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

When the cake layers have cooled completely, place one layer, right side up, on a serving platter and spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top of the first and then spread the top and sides of the cake with frosting using clean, smooth strokes. Sprinkle the toasted pecans on top of the cake. Serve at once or chill the cake for serving later.

Place this cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Cover the cake with waxed paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 30-32 min

Servings: 16

Recipe By: Anne Byrn

From:  The Cake Mix Doctor
Used with permission of Workman Publishing Company

Chef Suggestions
*such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower

You can make this cake with a pudding-enhanced mix, but it will be a heavier cake than if you use a mix without pudding added to it. Both the pineapple and the bananas add a lot of weight to the cake. Be sure to toast the pecans before sprinkling them on the frosting. Toasting is such a simple step and it brings out the flavor in the nuts.
Nutrition Facts
As prepared, each serving contains 350 calories, 20g total fat, 40mg cholesterol, 260mg sodium, 43g total carbohydrate and 3g protein.