Hummingbird Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

Hummingbird Cake

I remember the first time seeing a moist three-layered cake flavored with juicy pineapples and bananas with rich cream cheese frosting elegantly displayed in a glass cake dish of my childhood home. Since then, a few slices have been enjoyed, but few people know about the ‘Other Great Southern Dessert,’ Hummingbird Cake. Red Velvet cake receives more attention. I’m hoping this little food blog can start another food trend. 

Hummingbird Cake

It has the necessary star ingredients: bananas, pineapples and pecans. Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina submitted the original recipe in Southern Cooking magazine in February 1978. Since then, the Hummingbird Cake has had few modifications—proving the original recipe was excellent from the start. It’s one of Southern Cooking’s most requested recipes. My adaption uses coconut instead of vegetable oil and reduces the amount of sugar from two to one cup. The natural sweetness of overripe bananas and pineapples gives this cake enough sugar. By the way, this recipe has fresh not canned pineapples, and with its lighter taste, mascarpone replaces the original cream cheese in the frosting.

Not to dismiss the Red Velvet Cake trend, but the Hummingbird Cake deserves a spotlight, too. With all its flavors, it looks complicated. Perhaps, it hasn’t reached its height in popularity, because it’s easier to make then than Red Velvet Cake.  It’s a two-bowl recipe, and a mixer isn’t needed. The hardest part about making this cake is not to over mix the batter. Save the energy for whipping air into the mascarpone frosting.

As mentioned before, I suggest we start a food trend about this ‘Other Great Southern Dessert.’ From its southern epicenter, we should shout the Hummingbird Cake gospel to the East, North, West and further South of the foodie world. Let’s make Hummingbird ice cream, donuts, cookies, pies, popsicles, brownies, milk shakes, cheesecake, candy, yeast bread, pancakes, muffins, scones, flans, crème brûlées, develop an instant cake mix and whatever dessert idea to start this trend. I can easily see someone incorporating a little bacon in the recipe. Then, we should organize a conference about what’s a genuine Southern Hummingbird Cake and discuss its short history in glory details.

I tend to think of Red Velvet Cake with its artificial red coloring as a pop star on auto tune, and it’s a guilty pleasure we all love. Hummingbird Cake is naturally flavorful made without any unique tricks. Of course, I lack the time to personally persuade the world about the delightful taste of the ‘Other Great Southern Dessert,’ but would you like to give it a try and join the Hummingbird Cake choir?

Hummingbird Cake: "How-To"

Hummingbird Cake


  • 3-cups unbleached all-purpose flour; plus more for flouring baking pans
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1-cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs; beaten
  • 1-cup coconut or vegetable oil; plus more for greasing baking pans
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 lb. fresh pineapples
  • 1 + 1/2-cup chopped pecans
  • 2 to 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 recipe for Mascarpone Icing (Recipe follows)
  • Garnish: 1/4-cup toasted, unsweetened large coconut flakes and 1/2-cup toasted pecan pieces, mix together.


  1. Warning: Do not use an electric mixer for this recipe.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9 in. round baking pans and line with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop fresh pineapples until it looks similar to canned crushed pineapple and reserve the juice (Do not use a food processor or blender).
  4. Place chopped pineapples with their juices, pecans, bananas and vanilla in a medium bowl. Use a potato masher to combine ingredients. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, sea salt, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  6. To make the cake batter, gently mix in beaten eggs and oil into the flour mixture until just moist. Do not over mix.
  7. Lightly mix in the pineapple mixture into the cake batter. Do not over mix.
  8. Equally spoon the cake batter into the greased and floured baking pans.
  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Gently remove cakes from pans onto the wire racks. Discard parchment/wax paper. Let cool completely.
  10. When the cakes are cooled, spread each layer with Mascarpone icing. Garnish with toasted pecans and coconut flakes (make sure they’re completely cool before placing on top of icing).
  11. Top with birthday candles. Make a wish. Blow hard. Cut a slice and enjoy.

Mascarpone Frosting


  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese; room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter; room temperature
  • 2-cups powder sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • A pinch sea salt


  1. With an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, mix Mascarpone cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Reduce the speed to low (to prevent powdered sugar from flying every where in the kitchen), whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla and sea salt.
  3. Beat until the icing is light and fluffy.
  4. Spread over Hummingbird Cake layers or your favorite dessert.


Hummingbird Cake

8 thoughts on “Hummingbird Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

  • January 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Made one for Thanksgiving 2016, it was a big hit, so was requested to make one for New Year 2017. Making a third, now, for my grand niece’s birthday.
    Thanks a big dish!

  • September 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Oh wow! Carrot cake is the show stealer in this house but I have a feeling thats about to change:)

  • September 16, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Red Velvet Cake can definitely take a seat now. Time to move on! Let’s all make it a point to add Hummingbird to the mix. We made this for a friend’s going away party a few years ago, and it was a hit. Love the mascarpone!

  • September 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Oh Yum! That looks fantastic! My next big gathering I will have to give this a try! It’s just beautiful!

  • September 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    That’s a beautiful cake – and yes, Hummingbird cakes need their day in the limelight!

  • September 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    One of my favorite all-time cakes. First tasted it when Boston Market used to sell it by the slice (they don’t anymore). But never had the recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • September 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    GORGEOUS! You’ve inspired me to make this IMMEDIATELY! Its been decades since I’ve snacked on Humming Bird Cake! You’re right, Red Velvet and Carrot cakes were more common front runners in our home. What great memories of home your post brings! LOVE the substitutions and the idea of Mascarpone Icing. As always, THANKS!

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