hummingbird cake + six years of hummingbird high

November 6, 2017


Happy sixth birthday to Hummingbird High!

Today is my blog's sixth birthday! I still can't figure out if six years counts as a lifetime or is just a blip in the internet world. There are some folks I talk to who are like whoa, what you've been doing it for that long?! whereas others are like pfft, that's nothing, I started my blog before blogging was even a thing, you baby. In any case, six years seems like a long time to me. In that time, I've lived in Denver, Portland, San Francisco, New York, and back to Portland. I've sold my car (the one I've had since I was a sophomore in high school, ahhh!), lived in five different apartments, bought a house, adopted a kitten from the streets (long story), had three different corporate jobs, and got a book deal. That's a lot of change for six years, with Erlend, my boyfriend of apparently 8 years (good god, I guess we should probably get married soon) and this blog being the only major constants.


I wish I had something insightful about blogging to say this year like I did in years past, but the truth is, I don't. Because the truth is, more often than not these days, I find myself wondering if blogging is still something I really want keep doing. Don't get me wrong — I still love to bake and will probably continue to do so forever and ever, long after this blog dies. It's more that the other stuff that comes with blogging these days is, well, a drag. I talked about this last year so I won't go into too much detail again, but something inside of me breaks a little bit every time I hear bloggers talking about their blog as a "brand", turning it into a scalable business, and whatever else.

And I know I probably offended some of you (especially if you're a blogger yourself) right there with that sentence, but you have to understand: for 95% of my blog's life, I worked traditional 9-to-5, 40-hours-a-week jobs that I weren't too crazy about. My blog was where I escaped from all that, well, frankly, corporate bullshit. The place where I didn't have to make decks, waste my time in useless meetings, justify ROI for everything I wanted to do, deal with sprints and burndown rates, etc. To see more and more of it bleed into this world has been really difficult and heartbreaking for me.


Part of the reason why blogging became my sanctuary was because unlike in my various day jobs, it felt like I was creating tangible things that I was proud of: delicious recipes, beautiful photographs, and a vibrant, loyal community of readers. But it seems that blogging these days is shifting away from that and it's now less about the thing you're blogging about and more about the act of blogging itself. A lot of big bloggers don't even create their own content anymore and are just always in search of the next *thing* that will bring in more followers, likes, sponsorships, whatever.

So maybe this makes me a dinosaur in the world of blogging today, but these days, I find myself ignoring those abstract, corporate-y goals like growing my followers and instead focusing more on the tangible stuff. What that exactly means, I don't 100% know yet. Maybe it means posting less and taking the time to really, truly perfect a recipe. Maybe it means posting more, but less of the bakes I'm known for and more of the other stuff that interests me too. Maybe it means reaching out beyond the digital world and trying to turn this online craziness into something more real: a studio, a bakery, a store. Who knows? But I intend to find out this year for sure.


Anyway, to celebrate my blog's sixth birthday, I decided to make its namesake hummingbird cake! This is actually the first hummingbird cake recipe on my blog, and it's about freaking time because hummingbird cake is actually delicious. Think of it as a banana bread in layer cake format studded with tangy pineapple and pecans, all topped in delicious cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

See previous years' anniversary posts:


featured:

Some baker's notes:
  • Baking time will depend on the ripeness of your fruit; riper bananas means a moister and sweeter cake that will need 10 to 15 minutes extra in the oven. Fresh or canned pineapple can be used without too much difference in flavor (unless you live somewhere in the tropics, where pineapple actually tastes good). But if you're using canned pineapple, just make sure to drain the fruit well! You want it as dry as possible or it will potentially affect the leavening agents in the recipe.

  • The cake is adapted from my dear friend Tessa and her awesome cookbook, Layered. I also used her watercolor technique frosting method to decorate (check out that link for awesome visual step-by-step instructions!), along with different shades of brown, yellow, orange, and pink from this Americolor Nifty Fifty food coloring gel set


Hummingbird Cake
(adapted from Layered)

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Ingredients

For the Hummingbird Cake:
(makes a two layer 8-inch cake)
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (5.65 ounces) dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mashed super ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple (see baker's notes)
  • 1 cup (4.25 ounces) pecans, roughly chopped

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
(enough for a two layer 8-inch cake)
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups (20 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

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Recipe

For the Hummingbird Cake:
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying the bottom and sides with cooking spray and lining with a parchment paper circle. Spray the parchment paper circles as well and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt until well combined. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup granulated sugar

  4. 3/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar, and 3/4 cup canola oil. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, before turning the mixer to its slowest setting and adding 4 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous one is fully incorporated. Add 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and continue mixing until incorporated.

  5. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn on the mixer back to its slowest setting, add the flour mixture (from the 2nd step) in 2 batches. Add 1 cup mashed bananas and 1 cup crushed pineapple and continue mixing until just incorporated. Turn off the mixer and sprinkle 1 cup roughly chopped pecans over the batter and use a rubber spatula to fold the nuts into the batter, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the top of each cake bounces back when gently poked. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 12 ounces cream cheese and 1 cup unsalted butter. Beat together on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add 5 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons whole milk, and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract until incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix until the frosting is fluffy.

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