Jamie Oliver’s hummingbird cake

When I first heard of “hummingbird cake”, I thought it was to do with the Hummingbird Bakery, (who also released a gorgeous cake recipe book). It’s not. And it is not made with hummingbirds either.

Apparently, it is a cake originally from the Carribeans, so called because of its sweetness, and is pretty popular in the United States. With its batter made with pineapples and ripe bananas, baked and layered with cream cheese frosting and then topped with caramelised pecan brittle, it is definitely sweet. Stop reading if you are counting calories, because this is not a low-cal recipe.

The recipe I followed is from Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food book (replacing olive oil with sunflower oil), but you can always put your own spin on it. After all, a contestant on the Great British Bake Off did a version of hummingbird cake with passionfruit and mango – which sounds amazing. I love passionfruit.

Hummingbird cake
Hummingbird cake

Alas, I did not have any edible flowers to decorate with, which would have made it stunning. Especially violets with their vibrant purple hues would contrast beautifully with the brown cake, the white frosting and the green lime zest. I will just have to settle for just pretty.

With its tropical fruit flavours, it’s a great summery recipe, perfect when you want to impress and with the icing just smothered on with a spoon and decorations scattered on, it doesn’t take too much effort to decorate it either.

Yum... cream cheese frosting...
Yum… cream cheese frosting…

Photos are super-grainy because 1) mobile phone camera and 2) artificial energy-saving lightbulb.

I had a bit of a disaster with the frosting because room temperature at this time of the year is around 5°C… not much different from the temperature inside a regular fridge. Even after leaving the butter out 24 hours prior to commencing my bake, when mixing my “room temperature” butter with the icing sugar, it just resulted in a kitchen absolutely covered in icing sugar and powdery butter chunks. Not quite the “pale and creamy” consistency Jamie suggested. I ended up mixing in the cream cheese, lime juice and lime zest anyway into my powdered sugar mess, which made it into cream cheese frosting with butter chunks. Then, I forced the whole mixture through a sieve and returned it into the mixer to beat for a minute.

So if you are baking in a cold kitchen in the winter, don’t do what I did – it takes way too much time to sieve your frosting. Just warm up your butter without melting it, maybe a few seconds in the microwave or placing it in a warm place in the house for a few minutes.

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