Summer seems like the perfect time to indulge in a sweet slice of cake. And Hummingbird Cake is one of my favourite summertime cakes to bake. This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food cookbook, and it definitely is that indeed! It is an easy cake to make, and the best part for me-apart from eating it, was decorating the top with fresh flowers and the pecan brittle. So if you are looking for a sweet treat, try making the Hummingbird Cake.
- 250 ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 350 g self-raising flour
- 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 350 g golden caster sugar
- 4 medium very ripe bananas
- 1 x 425 g tin of pineapple chunks
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 g pecans
- 400 g icing sugar
- 150 g unsalted butter , (at room temperature)
- 200 g cream cheese
- 2 limes
- 100 g caster sugar
- 50 g pecans
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F). Grease and line two 23cm round cake tins.
Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and a large pinch of sea salt.
Peel the bananas and mash them up with a fork in another bowl. Drain and finely chop the pineapple and add to the bananas with the oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then fold into the dry mixture until smooth.
Finely chop the pecans and gently fold in, then divide the batter evenly between your prepared tins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden and the sponges spring back when touched lightly in the centre.
Run a knife around the edge of the tins, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a free-standing electric mixer, add the butter and beat until pale and creamy.
Add the cream cheese, finely grate in the zest of 1 lime and add a squeeze of juice, then beat until just smooth – it’s really important not to over-mix it. Keep in the fridge until needed.
To make a brittle topping, place the caster sugar and a splash of water in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Shake flat and don’t stir it, just swirl the pan occasionally until dissolved and lightly golden.
Add the pecans and a pinch of salt, spoon around to coat, and when nicely golden, pour onto a sheet of oiled greaseproof paper to set.
Once cool, grind up into smaller pieces (you’ll need about half to top the cake – save the rest for sprinkling over ice cream).
To assemble the cake, place one sponge on a cake stand or plate and spread with half the icing. Top with the other sponge, spread over the rest of the icing, then grate over the zest of the remaining lime.
Scatter over the brittle dust and decorate with a few edible flowers, such as violas, nasturtiums or fresh flowers if you feel inclined.
If you choose to use fresh flowers on your cake, remove them before serving, and make a floating flower arrangement in a low round bowl. An effortless and pretty way to style your table while serving up this delicious cake!
"Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." - Henry James
All images by Flowers and Company