Southern Hummingbird Cake

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!

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This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an old-fashioned kinda guy.  I like rituals and traditions.  I believe in chivalry and all that jazz.  (Or maybe I just like the thought of being able to dress up in a suit of armor and run around with a sword…)  Granted, this doesn’t show up much on a day-to-day basis.  However, one of my favorite things is following the traditional gift-giving guide for anniversaries.

Do you guys know about the traditional anniversary gift list?  The 1st anniversary gift should involve paper, the 2nd cotton, the 3rd leather…and so on.  On a side note, I’d like to point out how many of the gifts involve diamonds once you get into the 60+ anniversaries.  But then again, if you make it 60+ years, you deserve a diamond or two!  And then there’s the 90th anniversary gift: granite.  Has anyone ever reached a 90th anniversary?  Quite impressive!

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!Laura and I have been married for 5 years now, and I’ve had a lot of fun finding gifts for each anniversary.  It’s a way to be creative with a theme.  The 1st year (paper) involved a custom notepad for her desk as she had just started her new job.  I got her a nice, plush bathrobe for the 2nd anniversary (cotton)…although she still prefers to wear her threadbare robe that she’s had for at least 15 years.  Oh well.  The thought was there!

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!When our 5th anniversary (wood) rolled around last Fall, I set out to find something fun and unique.  I found a lot of ideas involving jewelry boxes, but she already had one of those.  And I didn’t want to just get something that would sit on a shelf and create more clutter.  After a lot of googling, I landed on the idea of a birdhouse.  We enjoy watching the finches and wrens come to the feeder on our porch, so a birdhouse seemed like a fun idea.  She loved the idea!  We didn’t manage to get the birdhouses out into the yard until early this summer, but they’re there.  We’ve seen a few birds scouting them out, but so far no one (no bird?) has made a nest…yet.  Hopefully that’ll come soon!

Speaking of birds, we’ve been lucky enough to spot a couple of hummingbirds during the summer months.  We have some phlox planted right next to our back porch, and the hummingbirds love it when it blooms in late summer.  We do have a hummingbird feeder out, too, but they haven’t seemed to like that one.  I did spot one checking out the feeder one time, but he never came back.  I might try a new feeder next summer.

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!Ah, but let’s switch gears slightly over to this Southern Hummingbird Cake.  It doesn’t actually involve hummingbirds, but it sure sounds like a cool name, right?  The name comes from the fact that the cake was invented in Jamaica, and the hummingbird is the national bird of Jamaica.  Hummingbird Cakes are extremely popular in the South, and they make frequent appearances at neighborhood parties and family gatherings.

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is similar to banana bread, but it also incorporates crushed pineapple and pecans.  The result is an extremely moist and flavorful cake that is then covered in cream cheese frosting.  Can’t go wrong there!  This cake actually reminds me a bit of my go-to banana bread recipe…just in cake form.  With cream cheese frosting.  Delicious!

The next anniversary gift is iron.  Umph.  I’d love any ideas you might have!  Perhaps an iron sword?  (Or maybe that’s just what I want…)

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!

Southern Hummingbird Cake

This classic Southern Hummingbird Cake is filled with pecans, bananas and pineapples and topped with a tasty cream cheese frosting!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 623kcal


For the Cake

For the Frosting


For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (3) 8” cake pans; set aside.
  • Using a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon). Add oil, eggs and buttermilk; stir until just combined, taking care not to overmix. Stir in vanilla, pineapples, bananas and pecans.
  • Divide batter evenly between 3 cake pans.
  • Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool (~45 more minutes).

For the Frosting

  • Using a countertop mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  • Add vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until frosting reaches desired sweetness.
  • Beat frosting on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy.
  • Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking occasionally, for 6-7 minutes, or until you can smell them. Let pecans cool and then chop finely; set aside.

To Frost Cake

  • Place one layer of cake on large platter. Spread one cup of frosting on top. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd layers of cake. Use remaining frosting on top and sides of cake.
  • Sprinkle chopped, toasted pecans across top of cake before serving.

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  1. I don’t think Laura would want an iron sword, lol. I do know what your talking about, though, with the gift-giving good for anniversaries. I’m not super familiar with every one, but it’s pretty neat. We had a bird house once, but had to put it away ’cause the squirrels would get into it and pick through the seeds and knock them on the ground and it just became a big mess. The birds are so wonderful to look at, though. We usually get a bunch come around, especially after the grass is mowed.
    I think I may have seen Jamie Oliver do a version of this cake once and it sounds delicious! I love anything with a cream cheese frosting and I bet that the pineapple and bananas really make the cake nice and moist! I’ll take a slice (or two 😉 ). Pinned! Cheers David!

    1. Wait. Don’t ruin my plans, Dawn! I totally wanted to get Laura an iron sword. 🙂 (Well…maybe I wanted to…but I’m a little smarter than that!) I’m right there with ya on the cream cheese frosting. I used to hate it…and frankly, I still do hate cream cheese frosting on a traditional birthday cake. But carrot cake, hummingbird cake, red velvet cake…those all require a good cream cheese frosting! I’ll save you a slice! 🙂

    1. Hey, the anniversary traditions give me an easy way to start thinking about a gift! So in a way, I’m kinda cheating. 🙂 Thanks so much, Medha…hope the school year is off to a great start so far!

  2. David, this cake looks phenomenal! I’ve never had hummingbird cake but it sounds like something I should definitely try – there seems to be quite a bit of overlap with carrot cake (pineapple, cream cheese frosting, nuts), which is a favorite of mine. That’s so cool that you use the traditional anniversary gift list to provide a theme each year! I remember when I first heard about the list, I thought it was super anticlimactic…as in, I imagined someone actually giving their spouse a ream of paper the first year. Ha!

    1. I am a serious fan of all things carrot cake…and yes, a hummingbird cake is definitely in the same family. (That family has a last name of ‘delicious’ by the way. Haha!) Well, the anniversary gift thing could be boring…but there’s tons of ideas out there on the internet. To be fair, most of the ideas are pretty bad (like “here’s some copy paper for your printer” bad), but there are some good ideas out there, too! Thanks so much for the comment, Mara!

  3. David, Hummingbird Cake has been my favorite type of cake ever since I had it 16 years ago! A friend (then co-worker) made a homemade version and brought it into work on my birthday and GOSH – one slice and I was in heaven! Though, when I first found out what it was called, I thought that it was made with Hummingbirds! GAH! Sometimes, my mind wanders way too fast – like GiGi said, I need a brain leash!
    Anyhoot, my Hummingbird-supplying friend just moved to Florida and I won’t be able to have a slice of her Hummingbird cake till next February…so, I’m gonna have to send my drone up North to steal a slice of this off your counter! Gosh – this looks amazing – takes me on a walk down memory lane to all the “anniversaries” of me indulging in a slice or two of Hummingbird cake!

    1. Haha…there’s nothing wrong with being creative, Shashi! (That’s just another name for having a ‘brain leash’…haha!) I’m a huge fan of hummingbord cake, and I remember my mom making this cake from my days as a wee little kid in the kitchen. I think I still have some slices of this cake in the freezer…send that drone on up, and I’ll lead him (her?) up! 🙂

  4. We have quite a few hummingbirds in our backyard they seem to love the fushias. they will dive bomb us to try and keep us away. great history behind this cake, I bet it is delicious.

    Have no idea what to get (iron)? Take care!

    1. Ah…that’s another good hummingbird bush for sure, Cheri. Fushias. I should plant some of those around our porch in the spring. Wait…hummingbirds dive bomb?? Now that I have to see! 🙂 Thanks so much!

  5. Hi David! Now this is my kind of cake, full of fruit and nuts! I make my carrot cake for my birthday every year, but I think I have to add this one to my list of favorites! Is your birdhouse specially for wrens? Different birds need specific houses and placement of the houses. Gary built bird feeders and houses for me when we were in MI, but here I only have one feeder outside the bay window in the dining room (it keeps Henry my cat entertained watching from inside)!

    1. Carrot cake is one of my favorites, too, Dorothy! (Imagine that…we have similar tastes in cakes!) And as far as the bird houses, yup…I actually learned that from this bird house adventure. One house was labeled for wrens while the other was for finches. I guess the holes are slightly different in size? And the placement of the houses needs to be different, too. But we’re learning! 🙂

  6. How have I never heard of this type of cake before???!! Tastes like banana bread with pineapple and cream cheese frosting, sounds brilliant. Well done on following anniversary traditions, we just celebrated our first and counted the movie tickets as the paper!

    1. Movie tickets are a totally legit first anniversary gift, Matt! (Congrats, by the way!) But I warn you…they only get harder from here on out. Too bad ‘hummingbird cake’ isn’t one of the themes, right? This cake is quite tasty. It’s kindof a cross between banana bread and carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting. Do treat yourself to a slice (or two)! 🙂

    1. I thought about that one, Dorothy…but we already have several pieces! So I’m afraid it would just sit unused. I ended up finding a fun idea online…but I can’t post it here in case Laura happens to stumble across it! 🙂

  7. I’ve heard of this kind of cake and never knew exactly what it was until now. Thanks for that and killer frosting job. Spot on perfect on the sides! I’m sure Laura appreciates your thoughtfulness on the anniversaries, too. Nice job!

    1. This cake is indeed killer, Kevin! It’s a cross between carrot cake and banana bread…with a nice cream cheese frosting all over it. And it’s delicious! 🙂

    1. Yeah, I found a fun gift idea after stumbling onto a gift website and searching for ‘cast iron’. (Not pans!) Realizing that cast iron counts as iron really opened up some new possibilities. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment, Dawn!

  8. Interesting, I’ve never heard of a Southern Hummingbird Cake before. You always bring the southern flair, David! I love how you put a lot of thought into the traditional anniversary year gifts. I’m not sure why, but I just recently heard that the Guinness World Book of Records for marriage is 87 years. EIGHTY SEVEN YEARS!! They actually both died when they were 105. Pretty crazy/awesome right!

    1. Hey, what can I say, Nicole? I grew up in a southern kitchen…and I ended up with a copy of my mom’s crazy, overstuffed binder of recipes! So whenever I go digging into that book, I always come up with something tasty. 🙂 87 years! Wow. I guess that means no one has ever made it to the ‘granite’ gift (90 years). That’s ok. I mean what do you get someone that’s made out of granite? Counters? A gravestone? (Ok, that was a low blow…but I just couldn’t resist!) Thanks so much!!

  9. Traditions and rituals are a bit part of our lives as well – it is nice to have them! We have followed the traditional anniversary gift list for the first years of our marriage, we have not done it in a while but reading your post I think we should reintroduce it. You are so creative with your ideas!

    The name of your cake reminds me of hummingbird bakeries here in London, they are incredibly popular! Your cake looks absolutely delicious – I am big fan of pecan nuts! Would love your hummingbird cake for the weekend paired with a nice cup of tea!

    1. I love traditions and rituals…I always have! It’s probably why I have a fascination with the middle ages. I feel like that time period was steeped in tradition. You should totally go back and reintroduce the traditional gift thing…it’s a fun way to celebrate the milestones! Although the years get a little spotty and skip a few as you get higher in years. Not sure how to handle that one.

      Anyways, I’ve never heard of hummingbird bakeries, but I just googled it. Wow. I need to come to London for a slice of cake now! (Just kidding! I mean I do need to come to London. But not just for a slice of cake.)

    1. It’s amazing, Dannii! This cake is like a cross between banana bread and carrot cake…with a nice layer of cream cheese frosting. And the additional toasted pecans are always a hit! Thanks!!

  10. Happy 5 years man!!! That’s an interesting ritual, It’s the first I’ve heard of it!

    I LOVE hummingbird cakes- I went through an obsessive canned pineapple phase (The one in syrup, not juice ha!) and my friends made one for my 18th birthday at school!

    This looks epic!

    1. Yeah, the anniversary gift thing is kinda nice. It’s an easy way to get thinking about a theme for a gift. Sometimes it’s still hard to come up with something, but that’s where the creativity (and google) comes in!

      Cheers to hummingbird cake, right? I’m thinking I should make one of these for Robbie’s 1st birthday so he can put his face straight into it. Or maybe I’m the one who wants to faceplant into this cake. 🙂

  11. That’s so fun that you follow the traditional anniversary gift list. I think a bird house was a great idea for a wood gift. This hummingbird cake was also a very delicious idea! I’ve never actually had one that I can recall, but you can never go wrong with cream cheese frosting!

    1. I was pretty pleased with my bird house idea! Plus, now we get to sit and watch the birds in the yard. I’ve seen a few of them checking the house out, but I don’t think anyone has moved in yet. And now I know what you’re doing this weekend…it involves hummingbirds and baking! 🙂

  12. Yup, I know this list, although I know only a few anniversary related gifts. But wait…90th anniversary? And granite as the associated material? Well, does this sound a little like black humor considering the fact grave elements are made with granite? Tell me I’m wrong, David! But at least this cake doesn’t sound like a joke cause it’s seriously delicious. Love all the flavors going – they aren’t fully about fall yet, but they kind of remind us that this beautiful is about to start:) Well done!

    1. No, no, you are very right, Ben! According to Nicole’s comment above, the world record is 87 years…so no one has quite made it yet.

      This cake is seriously delicious, too! I highly suggest making it this weekend…just try not to eat it all at once, ok? 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Pamela…you are too funny! Hey, I bet we could add some of those upstate NY apples to this cake. And I bet it would be delicious! 🙂

  13. Here I am wondering how I’m going to come by a hummingbird – let alone a southern one – when it turn out the cake isn’ made out of hummingbird at all. And that’s convenient, because I’m starting a tradition where each anniversary year is a different type of cake.

    1. Those Southern hummingbirds…they’re a real commodity. Especially in Chicago! Ohhh, I like this anniversary trend that you’ve got going on, Jeff. The first few years will be easy, but I could imagine it will be hard to be creative by the time you reach the 70’s. 🙂

    1. This cake would be perfect with a cup of tea! Hummingbird cake is a lot like making carrot cake…definitely give it a shot sometime, Caroline! 🙂

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