Hummingbird cake

Hummingbird cake. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Serves: 8
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 1 hr 0 mins


  • For the sponges:
  • 4 medium-sized ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml sunflower or light olive oil
  • 75ml milk
  • 250g pineapple (fresh or tinned), cut into small cubes
  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 325g light brown sugar
  • 75g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 300g soft butter
  • 160g icing sugar, sifted
  • 160g runny honey
  • 400g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the crystallised pecans:
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 20ml water
  • 100g pecan nuts, cut into halves or small pieces
  • To garnish:
  • Edible flowers (optional)

For the sponges:

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, or 160 degrees if using a fan oven. Grease and line three 20cm round cake tins with parchment paper.

2 In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth, then add the eggs, vanilla, oil and milk and whisk well to combine. Add the pineapple.

3 In another bowl, sift together the flour and cinnamon and add the sugar and pecans. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and divide the batter between the baking tins.

4 Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, then leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

For the cream cheese frosting:

1 Beat the butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar and honey and beat together until well combined. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and mix well until creamy and smooth. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

For the crystallised pecans:

1 Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2 Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. If you have a thermometer, bring the syrup to 117 degrees, then add the pecans. If you don't have a thermometer, once the syrup starts to boil, continue to boil for about 30 seconds before adding the pecans.

3 Stir the pecans vigorously with a wooden spoon, the syrup will coat the pecans and become shiny. Continue to stir until the sugar visibly crystallises and the pecans are coated with a sugary white coating. Spread out on to the baking tray and leave to cool.

To assemble:

1 Layer the sponges with about a third of the frosting, then use the remaining frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake.

2 Decorate with edible flowers, if using, and the crystallised pecans.

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan is a pastry chef and culinary consultant. She writes a weekly baking column for the Irish Times Magazine