The Hummingbird Cake has been hugely popular in the South, toted to picnics and holiday parties and shared at supper clubs and family reunions. Most of the time the cake is baked in layers, slathered with a cream cheese frosting, then sprinkled with chopped pecans. But it was originally intended as a Bundt.
Back when the recipe originated it included mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, and cinnamon, and it was baked in a Bundt pan like this recipe. Because these ingredients are available any time of the year, it is the perfect cake to bake and slice for the holidays. It can be made ahead and the flavors improve after the cake rests for a couple of days. To glaze a Hummingbird Bundt cake, reserve a portion of the pineapple juice in the can and whisk together a speedy glaze with a little powdered sugar. Or just dust with powdered sugar for the simplest and most festive look of all.
Hummingbird Bundt Cake
Makes 12 to 16 servings
Prep: 20 to 25 minutes
Bake: 45 to 50 minutes
Vegetable shortening or butter and flour for prepping the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
8 ounces (1 cup) vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
2 teaspoons powdered sugar, sifted
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Shake out the excess flour, and set the pans aside.
2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, and blend with a wooden spoon or a mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and blend until well combined, 1 minute. Or stir more briskly until well combined. Fold in the pineapple and the bananas. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, and place the pan in the oven.
3. Bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, and give the cake pan a gentle shake to loosen it. Invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with the sifted powdered sugar. Slice and serve.
Photo credit: American Cake, by Anne Byrn (Rodale, 2016)
If you were invited to a wedding in the Appalachian mountains, you might be asked to bring a cake layer. For generations, a wedding cake has been constructed from these spice cake layers and filled with a thick and fragrant apple butter made from dried apples put up from the fall harvest. The more layers to the cake – 12 to 16, perhaps – the more popular the bride, or so the story goes. Stack cakes may contain other fillings, often lemon or coconut, but the original was and still is apple. Not calling for fancy and expensive ingredients, stack cakes use what people have on hand – modest baking staples like sorghum, flour, and vegetable shortening, and you could bake the cake in a cast iron skillet. Or you can use 9-inch round cake pans. The secret to a great stack cake is to bake it a day in advance and cover it so that the apple filling slowly seeps into the cake. To save time, use apple butter, such as the Old Mill Apple Butter, instead of making the filling.
Here are links to Old Mill Products, which can be used in the recipe below from our friend Anne Byrn. Old Mill Apple Butter, Spiced Apple Seasoning, Old Mill Plain Flour, Muddy Pond Sorghum, Molasses.
Makes: 12 to 16 servings
Prep: 2 hours
Bake: 14 to 16 minutes
15 to 16 ounces dried unsulphured apple rings (4 to 5 packed cups)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sorghum or molasses
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
Powdered sugar or sweetened whipped cream
1. For the filling, place the apples in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg over the apples. Pour in the water, which should half-cover the apples. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the apples are soft and the mixture has thickened. Add a bit more water if needed. Remove the apples from the heat and let them cool. When cool, place them in thirds in a food processor and pulse until smooth but some chunks of apple remain. Or mash the apples by hand with a potato masher. You will have about 5 heaping cups of apples to spread between 6 cake layers. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, for the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of six 9-inch round pans. Smear a bit of vegetable shortening on the bottom of the pans to hold the parchment in place, and set the pans aside.
3. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine, and set the mixture aside. In another large bowl, place the shortening, sugar, and sorghum. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. The batter will be thick, more like a cookie dough. Use a strong rubber spatula, if needed, to facilitate mixing.
4. Divide the batter into 6 equal parts. Each part will be about 10 ounces. Spread the batter out into the pans, using the rubber spatula or a flexible metal spatula. Place 2 to 3 pans in the oven at a time, depending on the size of your oven. Bake until the cakes are a light golden color and spring back when lightly pressed in the center, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the pans to a wire rack to cool 3 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out the warm layers onto the rack. Immediately spread 1 heaping cup of apple filling over the top of the warm layer. Top with a second layer, spread on filling, top with a third, and so on. Repeat the process for the rest of the batter until you end with the 6th layer on top.
5. Place the cake in a cake saver or under a cake dome for 1 to 2 days before serving. Before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar or pile on whipped cream.
– Used with permission from Anne Byrn,
author of American Cake.
This recipe appears in American Cake
(Rodale Books, 2016).
The first week of spring here in the Smoky Mountains brought us a couple of snowy days, but now that the weather’s warming up, we’re all coming down with severe cases of spring fever. And one of the best cures we know of is cake! So for our last entry for March – which is also National Flour Month – we offer you our Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake. Lightened with ricotta cheese and brightened with fresh berries and lemon juice, the batter features not only our freshly ground cornmeal, but also Old Mill’s all-purpose Plain Flour. It makes a simple but stunning addition to an Easter buffet or any other spring or summer occasion. Come autumn, you can easily turn this versatile recipe into a holiday cake by substituting fresh cranberries for the blueberries, similar to our Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake we offer online. This cake also freezes well, so if you like to do all your baking at one time and give home-baked items to friends and family, this will be a hit!
Blueberry and Lemon Cornmeal Cake
Makes: 12 to 16 servings
Butter for prepping the pan
2 cups Old Mill Plain Flour
1 cup Old Mill Yellow Cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup Old Mill Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)
Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
1 container (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese, about 2 cups
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided use
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter, and place the pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
- Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, 30 seconds. Add the sugar, and beat on medium until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated, about 20 seconds each. Add the maple syrup, oil, and the grated lemon zest and juice. Blend on medium speed until well combined, 45 seconds.
- Turn about a third of the dry ingredients into the batter and blend on low until just incorporated. Add half of the ricotta cheese and blend. Add another third of dry ingredients and blend, then add the rest of the ricotta, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients, blending just to incorporate. Fold 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into the batter, and blend on low speed to break up the berries a bit, about 30 seconds. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the remaining cup of blueberries on top of the batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the baking sheet with springform pan in the oven.
- Bake until the cake is well browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes. After 1 hour, gently cover the top of the cake with foil to protect it from over-browning. Remove the cake from the oven, and let the cake cool in the pan 20 to 25 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and unfasten the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.