Hummingbird Cake

HummingbirdCake_LR

I’ve always seen recipes for hummingbird cake, but have never quite figured out exactly what it actually is. A cake with bananas, pecans, pineapple – surely it just seems bizarre! Like it’ll just be a big lumpy mess of cake! I never really understood the appeal, but decided to give it a shot after I saw this recipe on the cover of Southern Living.

This cake in particular has a cream cheese custard filling and what’s supposed to be browned butter frosting. But I chickened out in the middle of browning my butter – I didn’t want it to burn!

Despite my skepticism, this cake turned out pretty well! It was a big hit at work, so there must be something magical about the strange combination of ingredients.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups chopped overripe bananas (about 3 medium bananans)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the cream cheese custard filling:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
For the browned butter frosting:
  • 1 cup (230 grams) butter
  • 16 ounces icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. The night before, make your cream cheese filling. Whisk together first 2 ingredients in a heavy saucepan, then whisk in eggs and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture reaches a chilled pudding-like thickness. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese and vanilla until cheese melts. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Place plastic wrap directly on mixture (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 6 to 24 hours.

2. The next day, make your cake.Prepare 4 9-inch round cake tins by greasing and lining the bottom with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix all of your dry ingredients together, then add in the rest of the ingredients to create a moist batter.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the layers from their pans and allow them to cool completely. 

4. Put together your cake layers by spreading a portion of the cream cheese custard in between each layer. Cover your cake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool while you make your frosting. 

5. Finally, make your frosting. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. (This is the part where I chickened out!) Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.

6. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

7. Once your frosting is finished, frost your cake.

The frosting on my cake is called a basketweave. To do this, you’ll need A LOT of frosting, so you’ll want to double the recipe to make sure you have plenty to get the job done!

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The Elvis Cupcake

ElvisCupcakes

We had a couple of bananas sitting in our fruit bowl this weekend that were looking pret-ty ripe. They were leftover from Ben’s last week of marathon training, as he ran the London Marathon last weekend!  So instead of baking last week, I was standing on the sidelines, cheering on thousands of runners as we waited for Ben to pass. He did really well and finished in 4:09:32, not bad for a first marathon!

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Back to the bananas…Their depressingly faded yellow peels covered in brown freckles were just begging to be put out of their misery. Instead of tossing them, I decided to make an old favorite: Elvis cupcakes.

Why Elvis? Because apparently the man loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Only these cakes take it a step further with a chocolate buttercream frosting. You may now be wondering where the peanut butter is if it isn’t in the frosting and the answer is the best surprise of this cake: a creamy peanut butter center!

While the flavor combination sounds like a strange amalgamation, you’d be amazed at how good these cakes taste!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes (makes 9):

  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour (preferably cake flour, if you have it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole overly ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (58 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 egg

For the peanut butter filling:

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons icing sugar

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5/8 cup icing sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix the vanilla and buttermilk.

3. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Once everything is incorporated, mash in the banana and mix well.

4. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients, alternating each addition with the buttermilk mixture. Make sure everything is blended in and smooth before adding the next addition. Once the batter is completely mixed, fill your prepared cupcake pans – filling each cup about 2/3 full.

5. Bake the cakes for about 17 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Once they are ready, let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the peanut butter filling, beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy.  Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Cut a hole into the top of each cupcake and spoon the filling into the hole, or using a piping bag with a filling tip (my method of choice).

7. To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until no clumps remain, and it’s completely smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool while you prepare the rest (about 5 – 10 min).

8. In medium sized bowl, beat butter for 3 minutes, until very very creamy.  Add the milk and beat until smooth.  Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat well. Add vanilla and whip for 3 more minutes.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until it’s nice and airy, then fill a piping bag and pipe onto the cakes.