Blogher Food in Atlanta this May it seems as though all things Southern keep coming my way. Imbibe magazine did a feature on southern bars, and then I stumbled across an article in Bon Appetit about Cakes and Ale. Most recently I started reading Kim Severson's book Spoon Fed. I took an interest because she got her start at the Anchorage Daily news. She has since worked her way up the ranks and most recently took a position heading up the New York Times Atlanta office. In the book she talks about the late, great Edna Lewis as one of the eight cooks that saved her life.
Then it came time to figure out what kind of cake I wanted to make for the Alaska Bird Observatory Annual Meeting and Cake Auction tonight. As soon as I stumbled across a Hummingbird Cake by Edna Lewis I knew it was the cake I was going to make. The Hummingbird and this cake are more often found in Southern Climates, but every once in a while they make a rare appearance here in Fairbanks (a hummingbird was spotted here once about six years ago). This cake is filled with Bananas, Pineapple, and Pecans and topped with a Cream Cheese and Pecan Frosting. Some speculate the name originated from it’s sweetness, but the actual origin of the name is unknown.
The cake I made for the auction is a bundt cake, I'm hoping to fill in the hole in the middle with a small vase of hummingbird type flowers. While I was at it I decided to use a little of the batter to make a few cupcakes for a snack at home, after all I wanted to make sure it tasted good, right? Well, they do taste very good although I think I might add a little toasted coconut to the frosting next time.
Oh, and if you are in Fairbanks and not too busy on this Monday night. Stop by The Alaska Bird Observatory for the Annual Meeting. There is a big sale going on in the gift shop, and there will be food, door prizes, and a bird themed cake auction. Hope to see you there. More info is available on their web page.
adapted from Saveur
3 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple,
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5 bananas)
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes,
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese,
cut into 1" cubes, chilled
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, lightly toasted
Heat oven to 350°. Line 24 cupcake wells with liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; stir in the pecans and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth, 1 minute. Add the crushed pineapples and their juice, bananas, oil, and vanilla and mix until combined. Fold in pecan mixture by hand until well combined.
Pour batter into cupcake wells, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool before frosting
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat until creamy, 1–2 minutes more. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and continue mixing until the frosting is light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Makes 24 cupcakes.