I've been a naughty blogger. It's been over two weeks since my last post! I was in Sanibel with Don's family enjoying the sun but also obtaining food poisoning, then my parents were in town, then our friend Clyde was visiting! It's been busy around these parts and I apologize. To make it up to you, I'm back with a vengeance: a dessert! I'm not much of a sweets person, but I do indulge on occasion. My parents were in town to celebrate my sister and their birthdays (I'm the only non-Aries in the family!). One birthday requires a great cake; THREE birthdays require an amazing, drool-down-your-face cake. Enter Hummingbird Cake from Food Network! Since this was my first attempt at a layer cake, I took a lot of advice from smitten kitchen, a.k.a. my cooking guru. I swear by her suggestion to freeze layers, trim the edges, and create a crumb layer (details below). It came out great!
from Food Network
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup chopped pecans (sized to your preference)
3 ripe bananas, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs at room temperature (they mix into the batter better when not cold)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 packages cream cheese (8 oz each) at room temperature
12 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper; butter and dust with flour. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes. Let cool, then toss with the bananas, pineapple, and 1/2 cup flour.
Whisk the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a separate bowl with a mixer on high speed until light and thick, about 5 minutes. Gradually mix in the vegetable oil.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold to make a thick batter. Fold in the pecan-fruit mixture then transfer to the cake pans and bake until cakes are firm and a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 - 55 minutes. Cool in the pans on a rack, 25 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool for another 30 minutes (or completely, if not freezing). If freezing, wrap the cakes separately in 3 tight layers of saran wrap. I then placed the layers into freezer bags, sucked the air out, and sealed, but that may have been overkill cuz smitten doesn't say to do that. Anywho, then you freeze them until ready to use.
To make the icing, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy, then gradually beat in the butter until combined. Sift the powdered sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
To assemble the cake, first use a long serrated knife (a bread knife works great) to flatten out the tops of the frozen layers. This prevents any cracking of layers. Then, arrange one layer on top of the other and smooth out the sides with a knife to reduce the need to spackle too much with icing. When done, remove the top layer and spread about 1/2 the icing on top of the first layer. Before icing the sides, it's a good idea to slide bits of wax or parchment paper under the cake. Then when it's done you can remove them and the cake tray will be clean! Replace the top layer, then spread an extra-thin layer of icing all over the cake. This is the crumb layer, and it will seal in the crumbs that inevitably sneak through your cake and show up in the icing. When you have a thin layer covering everything, place the whole cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set. After it sets, spread the rest of the icing around the cake. I sprinkled mine with a bit of cinnamon in the end.