Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hummingbird Cake, and a wedding.

I've been absent from my blog for a wee while. My excuse is that I had other things on my plate; a new town, a new job, and a new husband. Well, "new" in the sense that I've never had one before. So yeah, I got married! Last weekend!

It turned out to be a fun and relaxed day. It wasn't expensive or elegant, but it had personality and was just what I'd envisioned, and more. 

To keep costs down I'd decided to do most of the decorations and planning myself, with the help of friends and family of course. I had the dinner catered but with a bevy of friends (who are keen bakers) I decided to do a dessert table. One of my favourites were these cookie monster cupcakes made by my talented friend.

For some stupid reason, I decided to make my own wedding cake. I say stupid because even though I enjoy baking, it's probably not something you want to fuss around with when you have other things to organise in the day or two before your wedding day. That said, I was not making a huge cake and was using a "no fail" recipe". So everything did turn out 'alright on the night'; literally; I was baking this at 9pm two days before the big day. It was actually quite fun, and it felt quite rewarding to have contributed something to the feast.

My cake. Simple but delicious.
Hummingbird cake is a  banana and pineapple cake with a hint of cinnamon and pecans. The flavours are balanced very well and none are over powering, it is the kind of cake that could have general appeal. This particular recipe I used is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, and doesn't require too much faffing around. It can be made a couple of days ahead and actually improves in flavour, and will cut easily into 12 wedges but will serve heaps more if you cut into 'squares'.


For the cake:

Nonstick vegetable spray
Plain flour, for pans
3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
1 x 250g can crushed pineapple, with juice (use the juice)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten

For the frosting:

450g icing sugar
230g cream cheese, room temperature
85g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
A couple drops of food colouring if desired
Option: use 1/2 cup chopped pecans for decoration
Or use sugar flowers as I did (I cheated and bought mine ready made)


Preheat oven to 160 Celsius. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside. (You can also just use one pan, just clean and re-use it after baking each layer.)
Prepare the cake; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 26 to 28 minutes.
Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
Prepare the frosting; in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk on medium speed until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the proper spreading consistency.
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another 1/4 of the frosting. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. If desired, sprinkle the top with pecans. Remove parchment paper strips; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart.

-Photos courtesy of Shalane Hopkins