I'm a sucker for vintage. Old photos, old furniture, old linens, old friends: I love them all. I am especially fond of old recipes. Classic foods are my favorites. Give me a tuna melt or a chocolate layer cake any day over something made with quinoa.
Is there any more beloved retro recipe than Hummingbird Cake? It's been around forever, but was made famous in 1978 when Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina submitted her version to Southern Living magazine. It has been a staple at every potluck south of the Mason-Dixon line ever since.
Hummingbird Cake is a delicious blend of bananas, pineapple, pecans, and cream cheese frosting, usually presented as a towering, three-tiered wonder.
I have adapted Mrs. Wiggins' original recipe to make cupcakes. I may be biased, but I can't help feeling they're an improvement. I mean, the only thing better than one big Hummingbird Cake is lots of small, portable Hummingbird Cakes. Of course, they're also much quicker to make than a layer cake, so you can get to the eating a whole lot sooner.
I've made a few other changes to the original recipe, too. I adjusted the ratio of nuts and spices, I halved the frosting recipe to account for the smaller cupcake form, and I replaced most of the oil with applesauce. This last change is essentially important, because it allows you to think of these cupcakes as muffins, an important consideration when you are trying to justify eating a third one in a day.
adapted from Mrs. L.H. Wiggins' original Hummingbird Cake recipe in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 c. natural applesauce
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 t. pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz. crushed pineapple, with juice
- 1 c. pecans
- 2 large bananas, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread pecans in a single layer on baking sheet and toast in oven for about 5 minutes. Give the pan a good shake at least once during the baking time to ensure that the pecans are evenly toasted. Set aside to cool. Chop finely before adding to batter.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Mix well, but do not overbeat.
Add pineapple, chopped pecans, and banana pieces to batter. Stir to combine.
Pour batter into paper-lined cupcake tins, filling each to about 1/2" from top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until cupcakes test done.
While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (16 oz.) bag powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 t. pure vanilla extract
Whip cream cheese and butter together. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread on cooled cupcakes with an offset spatula. Garnish with additional pecans, if desired.
Makes 24 cupcakes.