Saturday, May 16, 2020

"Hummingbird Cake aka Doctor Bird Cake"

Below is a small article about the dessert known as Hummingbird Cake aka Doctor Bird Cake:


One of the dishes that became very familiar to me as a child was the dessert known as the Hummingbird Cake. At least to others. My grandmother, who used to prepare it a lot when I was a child, called it the Doctor Bird Cake. And for years, I used believe this dessert had originated in the American South. Well . . . I was wrong.

Contrary to what many Americans believe, the Hummingbird Cake had originated on the island of Jamaica. The cake's actual creator remains unknown. However, the dessert itself was named after the island's national bird - the hummingbird. The latter is also known by another name - Doctor Bird. And this is how the dessert acquired its nicknamed. The Hummingbird Cake was created on Jamaica during the 1950s or around the beginning of the 1960s. The ingredients for the cake consisted of flour, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, ripe banana, pineapple, cinnamon, vanilla extract, eggs, and leavening agent.

Following its initial popularity, the Jamaica Tourist Board exported the recipe for Hummingbird Cake, along with other local Jamaican recipes, in media press kits sent to the USA in 1968. The marketing was aimed at American consumers to get them to come to the island. The March 29, 1979 issue of the Kingston Daily Gleaner (Jamaica) stated: "Press kits presented included Jamaican menu modified for American kitchens, and featured recipes like the doctor bird cake, made from bananas." One of the first publications in the United States to feature the receipe for Hummingbird Cake was the February 1979 issue of Southern Living, thanks to writer L.H. Wiggins. Once the recipe reached the Southern United States, two other ingredients - chopped pecans and cream cheese frosting.

Here is a recipe from Southern Living for Hummingbird Cake:

Hummingbird Cake aka Doctor Bird Cake

Ingredients - Cake Layers
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained (such as Publix Crushed Pineapple in Pineapple Juice)
2 cups chopped ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Vegetable shortening

Ingredients - Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup salted butter or margarine, softened
2 (16-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients - Additional
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted

Step 1 - Prepare the Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and toasted pecans.

Step 2 - Divide batter evenly among 3 well-greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Step 3 - Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Step 4 - Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5 - Assemble Cake. Place 1 Cake Layer on a serving platter; spread top with 1 cup of the frosting. Top with second layer, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with third layer, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange pecan halves on top of cake.

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