Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake is a traditional Southern cake that’s a cross between banana bread and pineapple cake, studded with pecans, and covered in whipped cream cheese frosting.

According to Martha Stewart, rumor has it that this crowd-pleasing cake got its name because every bite makes you hum with delight.

Some say that the cake got its name because it’s so rich and sweet, just like the nectar that the hummingbirds love to feed on.

I’ve never actually had it myself, but it sounds like something I would really like. When I read through classic recipes, I decided to do a little tweaking.

My version is brushed with dark rum, made with coconut oil, and covered in toasted coconut and more pecans. The end result is dense and rich – a layer cake fit for a celebration.

I happen to know two people whose birthdays are just days apart and who would surely love this cake: my dear friend GP, whose birthday was last week, and my mom, whose birthday is today.

GP and my mom famously get along. They have a few things in common: both have big hearty laughs, both like eating the same things, both like listening to Motown and soul music, and both like rich cakes that are not too sweet. Our whole family loves GP, and I often consider him as some sort of adopted brother.

They would both like my take on the Hummingbird Cake – the rum adds a subtle warmth and spice, and the coconut oil and the toasted coconut flakes lend an aromatic tropical flavor.

This cake is perfect for their birthdays.  It’s simple and non-fussy, filled with different textures, comforting, and could easily become a favorite. Just like the birthday celebrants themselves.

Hummingbird Cake



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans
4 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 cup rum


16 oz whipped cream cheese
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans, then dust with flour. (You can also divide batter between 3 cake pans for a 3 layer cake.)
  3. In a big mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, sugars, and cinnamon. Add the eggs and coconut oil, and stir just to combine (do not beat or overmix). Fold in vanilla, pineapple (with juice), pecans, and mashed bananas.
  4. Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Using a pastry brush, brush rum on top and sides of cake before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting. Lower oven temp to 325 F.
  6. Spread shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway.
  7. Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add in confectioners' sugar, add vanilla, and stir to combine.
  8. Spread cream cheese frosting between cake layers and on top and sides of cake. Pat toasted coconut on sides of cake, and sprinkle chopped pecans on top.

recipe adapted from Southern Living

I’m happy that I was able to make this cake for GP this past weekend, and I can’t wait to make it for my mom when I see her again later this year. Next time I might even use more rum!

If you’d like to try more desserts with rum, try these:

Chocolate Rum Balls

Pineapple Habanero Rum Cocktail

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

And now this: Hummingbird Cake with Rum and Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you ever heard of Hummingbird Cake before? Do you have a favorite layer cake or dessert with rum?


27 Responses to “Hummingbird Cake”

  1. #
    christina posted September 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Ahhh, I love hummingbird cake. I’ve told so many people it’s a favorite, and a lot of people don’t know what it is. Delicious, that’s what!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Thanks, girl! Southern food is just too delicious.

  2. #
    Joanne posted September 10, 2013 at 6:56 am

    I’ve never had hummingbird cake either but it’s on my to-do list! It looks so rich and delicious!!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Somehow I managed to find a non-chocolate cake that’s rich and delicious! ;)

  3. #
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen posted September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Beautiful cake, girl! I love Southern Living magazine and their recipes never fail. They’re always crowd pleasers. I adore both Carrot Cake and Hummingbird Cake. Thanks for sharing!

  4. #
    Samantha Angela posted September 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    That looks gorgeous!
    I love the idea of hummingbird cake and it’s been on my “to-bake” list for a while though I still haven’t gotten around to it. It sounds so tasty.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      Yes, I’ve had it on my to-do list for a year, too!

  5. #
    Ashley posted September 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try hummingbird cake for a long time…and still haven’t done so. Seems like a terrible shame, especially after seeing your version of it – I’d love the rum and coconut!

  6. #
    Amy @ Elephant Eats posted September 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE hummingbird cake! I also love any cake with cream cheese frosting :) I haven’t actually ever attempted one so thanks for the inspiration. Your cake is beautiful!!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Thank you! It was very hard to not eat the cream cheese frosting by the spoonful…

  7. #
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal posted September 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I have yet to try hummingbird cake. I know of it and I know the name but I have never actually tried it. I love rum and coconut so I bet I would be ALL over this cake though if it was put in front of me.

  8. #
    Megan posted September 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I love how you find ways to sneak rum into desserts. The cake looks delicious!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Haha it’s like a blessing and a curse ;)

  9. #
    CCU posted September 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Rum in desserts ay? Time to give this a try :D


  10. #
    yummychunklet posted September 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I’ve had this cake before (being from the South!) Yours looks great!

  11. #
    Ashley posted September 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I’ve never had hummingbird cake before … but have been wanting to give it a try. Yours looks awesome! I love all that coconut and the pecans! Sounds like a great birthday cake to me!

  12. #
    Caroline Taylor posted September 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I love the sound of this, what an interesting combination.

  13. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry posted September 12, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I need a slice of this cake for breakfast!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted September 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Yes, it actually would be a perfect breakfast cake – it has bananas and cream cheese after all ;)

  14. #
    grace posted September 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    i’ve often made this cake for my own birthday–it’s perfect for a celebration!

  15. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted September 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I keep hearing about hummingbird cake, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it. Given how much I love coconut, I’m sure I would love this!

  16. #
    Monet posted September 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    This is one of my favorite sweet treats! I had it for the first time about five years ago, and now I often make it for my birthday! Thank you for sharing!

  17. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking posted September 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I’ve only ever heard about and seen this cake in pictures, but I think it would be FAR too dangerous in physical form in my house! I just know I would love the heck out of it!

  18. #
    Heather posted September 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve never had Hummingbird cake before, but your version looks truly delicious! It’s so pretty too!

  19. #
    Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings posted September 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I haven’t actually tried a Hummingbird Cake, but surprisingly, I learned about it first from a London bakery called – you guessed it – The Hummingbird Bakery! I’ve been too intimidated to try the cake, as I am afraid that it will be too sweet for me. But looking at your creation, I think I just might have to change this perspective! Time to bake a Hummingbird!

  20. #
    Tessa @ Feral Kitchen posted September 14, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve heard of Hummingbird Cake but never tried it. It’s gorgeous! Great work!

  21. #
    Honey What's Cooking posted September 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I love hummingbird cake, it’s my all time favorite. yup, you are right about the story.. i told my family when they started humming after the first bite, but no one believed me. ha! your version looks fab!

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