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?