Hummingbird Cake

Celebrate spring with this delightful southern favorite. Named after the frantic, nectar-obsessed hummingbird, this cake is guaranteed satisfy your sweet tooth. And for those few, dedicated folks who’ve managed to give up sweets for lent, this might just be the perfect Easter indulgence. Crushed pineapple, bananas and pecans provides an interesting and appealing texture to this cake and is perfectly complimented by the rich, but not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. (And yes, I dyed some coconut shavings green to look like grass. So what.)

This cake is unreal. Undeniably delicious. Afterall, I wouldn’t break out my awesome Peter Rabbit cupcake kit (someone knows me very well) on any ol’ recipe.

So adorable, right? A prancing Peter Rabbit

Southern Living Hummingbird Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1 (8 oz) can of crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups (about 4) mashed, overripe bananas
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (optional, used for garnish)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter (soft)
  • 16 oz (2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon. The goal here is to get all of the dry ingredients incorporated and to break up any lumps. A fork should work just fine.

2. Beat the eggs until they are foamy and add oil. Stir to combine. Set aside.

3. Mash the bananas in another bowl and add the crushed pineapple, vanilla extract and pecans. Stir to combine.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and oil. Use a spatula to mix but stop when there are still some streaks of flour in the batter. Do not overmix.

5. Add the pineapple, bananas, pecans, and vanilla to the batter. Stir with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, but don’t overmix here either.

6. If you’re making cake, bake in buttered and floured pans for about 45 minutes. If you’re baking cupcakes it should only take 15-20 minutes.

7. While the cake is baking, prepare the icing. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and soft butter until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you add new ingredients.

8. Cool cake completely (at least 2 hours at room temperature) before icing.

9. If you went the shredded coconut route, which I recommend, have it at the ready after icing. Garnish cupcakes by turning them upside down on the coconut, or sprinkle it over the top.

They look good with Peeps too!

Cinnamon Raisin Babka Loaf


A yeast-risen, not-too-sweet, breakfast specialty! The moist cinnamon raisin swirls make this bread look more difficult than it really is – bake a babka loaf and impress someone today.

*Recipe adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri.

Cinnamon Raisin Babka Loaf

  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1 cup warm tap water
  • 5 tsp (2 packets) dry active yeast
  • 8 Tbs unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 large egg yolks (save 3 whites for cinnamon raisin filling)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs oil (olive or vegetable)

Cinnamon Raisin Filling

  • 1.5 cups raisins
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 Tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Preparation:

1. Start by measuring all of the ingredients in separate containers so that they are at-the-ready and can be incorporated into the mixer efficiently. Yeast doughs can be extremely easy to work with provided the dough does not have time to begin rising while you measure.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat or in the microwave (just be careful not to scorch it). Let the butter congeal in the pan.

3. Add yeast to bottom of an electric mixer fixed with the paddle attachment. Measure 1 cup of warm tap water from your faucet (it should not be steaming or too hot to touch) and pour it over the yeast. Mix with a spoon to dissolve any large lumps. Make sure the yeast is beginning to activate (becoming cloudy, bubbly) before you add any more ingredients.

4. Add melted butter, sugar, salt, egg yolks,  and vanilla. Stir to combine. It should look unappealing, like this:

5. Add flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate after each addition.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides before each addition of flour. When all the flour has been added, beat the dough on high speed for 2 minutes. Allow the dough to rest in the mixer for 10 minutes before beating it again on medium speed for 2 additional minutes. These steps should result in a clean looking dough, like this:

6. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat with oil to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

(man hands)

7. As the dough rises, prepare the filling by whipping the three egg whites in the mixer with the beater attachment. Add the sugar slowly to the eggs as they are whipping.

Mix on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks, about 5-8 minutes. Also, gather raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and any nuts you wish to use.

8. After an hour, the dough has magically risen!

Cut the risen dough in half and turn it out on a well floured surface. Gather a rolling pin (or wine bottle), two loaf pans and begin rolling out the dough, using the length of one of the loaf pans as a general guide.

9. Once dough reaches about 3/4 inch thickness, smooth half of beaten egg whites carefully over the dough.

Sprinkle a little over half a cup of the raisins onto the egg whites.

Then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg (no need to measure really, just go with your taste buds on this one).

Form the dough by  starting with the side closest to you and slowly rolling it upwards, careful not to press down and displace the filling.

End with the seam on the bottom so the dough stays rolled while you grease and flour each of your loaf pans. Carefully lift roll into pan and repeat procedure with the other half of the dough.

10. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size, 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room.

11. Bake babkas at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until well risen and a deep golden brown color on the crust. Cool loaves in the pans for at least 30 minutes before turning them out of the pan (to avoid collapse).

Slice with a serrated knife if enjoying right away or seal loaf in plastic wrap to be stored in the freezer for later use (defrost for 30 minutes and reheat at 350 for about 10 minutes).

 Personally, I couldn’t wait to try it. So I ate this slice while freshly baked.

And another for dessert – smothered in apple pecan honey butter.

And because it isn’t overly sweet, this bread might make a mighty fine sandwich. If you’re brave enough to try it, let me know how it goes.

Gooey Pecan Coffee Cake

Because sweets aren’t just for dessert.

Pecan Coffee Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of butter (soft)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
Cinnamon Crumb Topping
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups pecans

Cinnamon Crumb Topping Preparation:

1. Combine butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stir until combined. Add pecans. Now, let there be cake.

Coffee Cake Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour the inside of loaf pans (my pictures show the mini loaves that I bake for work, but I think this comes out better when the batter is not divided and bakes in larger baking pan).

2. In mixing bowl beat 3 egg whites and 1/4 cup of the sugar with whisk attachment on high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Save yolks in a bowl and set aside. Scrape whites out of mixing bowl and into another container.

3. Cream butter and remaining sugar together in the mixing bowl with the paddle attachment.

4. Add egg yolks to butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Make sure the scrape the sides of the bowl at least a few times before proceeding.

5. Sift/stir together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixer. Combine on low speed.

6. Add about 1/3 of the whole milk to mixer. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all of the dry ingredients and milk have been incorporated into the batter. It will be lumpy.

7. Spoon batter from mixing bowl over the egg whites and fold gently.

8. Fill loaf pans one third of the depth with batter and sprinkle about half of the cinnamon topping in the center.

9. Repeat step 8.

10. Bake at 350. Bake time depends on the type of loaf pan you use (20 minutes for the miniature ones and about 1 hour for the traditional 9 x 5 ish sized pan).

Tip: Make sure to take a knife around the edges before trying to coax the cooked cake out of the pan.

Chocolate Cake & Mexican Hot Chocolate (Inspired) Icing

8pm hit and I needed some chocolate. I wasn’t feeling patient, nor was I looking forward to cleaning anything in the kitchen that I had to use, so I found the least taxing chocolate cake recipe I could find and invented some icing, and scarfed down a boatload of both.

I was so eager to have my cake and eat it too that I’d already piled all the ingredients into the mixer before I realized that I didn’t have white vinegar, which, apparently, has been voted “most popular” household liquid for its utility. Vinegar is common in baking because, as every second grader knows, it reacts with baking soda and helps leaven the batter by enlarging the air bubbles. Cool, too bad I didn’t have any. But, good news, there are other things that one can use in place of vinegar that react similarly, like lemons, which I did have on hand and substituted in equal parts for the vinegar.

This recipe made more batter than I knew what to do with, so before I knew it I was making not only an entire cake, but a bunch of cupcakes and refrigerating left-over batter.

“You know, steppin’ on fruit, baby oil, shoe danglin’.” – MGB

The cupcakes alone were stellar (see picture of young lady, enjoying one in the dark).  And though I’ve never been much for icing Meg’s suggestion of a Mexican Hot Chocolate Icing couldn’t resist experimentation. After looking through a few different icing recipes I decided to blaze my own path and just throw what I had into the mixer and hope for the best–a typical “Nan” solution to any myriad of challenges. To approximate, I creamed together about 1/2 cup of room temperature butter, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of an unlabeled red substance that I think was chili powder and 2 cups of powdered sugar.

The result was an orangey, spotted rather thin icing that didn’t look very trustworthy and nothing like what you might want globbed all over a delicious dark chocolate cake. The taste, though, was spot on of Mexican Hot Chocolate, sweet and slightly spicy, and the two things actually made quite a nice pair.

So I had to figure out a way to pretty up the icing with minimal effort. I decided to try piping the icing into circles onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and freezing it for a few minutes, then decorating the cake. The icing was too gooey (and my patience too thin) to try any more intricate designs, but the result was pretty nifty looking, eh?