Monday, September 5, 2011

Hummingbird Cake



Here's a failed cake. Failed because nobody liked it. Not myself or my friends who came for coffee. Thing is, it didn't taste bad other than being too sweet and that's after half the sugar was reduced. I give it a 6.5/10. It just wasn't something people would want to eat a second slice of and that is bad for a cake.

I've never eaten a hummingbird cake before and Saveur's list of layer cakes are bookmarked for times when I feel like baking, which is not very often these days because there's now only 4 of us at home, and all of us are trying to whittle our waistlines. Cakes, I've always said, are one of the worst things to eat. Sugar. Butter. Cream. Only the eggs make some nutritional sense. I would advise eating cakes only on special occasions.

The hummingbird cake is a Southern US cake. Southern cakes are real cakes (not those fluffy airy commercial nonsense you find in Asian bakeries) made with real butter, nuts and lots of sugar and they must be at least 4 layers high, probably to match the big hairdos of Southern belles.

 I don't know why the cake is called hummingbird because hummingbirds are not one of the ingredients (Su's daughter Sash asked if they were; valid question). I read somewhere that maybe this overly sweet cake is named after the hummingbird because it feeds on nectar. The hummingbird cake is nearly like the carrot cake except bananas are used in place of carrots. The texture of this cake is dense, slightly sticky but not heavy and is surprisingly moist. Somehow the combination of bananas, pineapple, pecans, cinnamon, cream cheese--all the things I love-- and a ton of sugar didn't work for me. It's strange that I don't like the hummingbird cake because it's only a carrot away from a carrot cake. By the second spoonful, I was reminded of cough syrup. It was the cinnamon powder I think. This cake just overloads on everything.

Never mind, if I didn't try I wouldn't have known. Next up, I must make that other Southern cake that I've wanted to for years. The coconut cake. I have high hopes for that one.

The recipe I used was from here. I made 1/3 of the recipe and reduced the sugar by nearly half, which means 1/2 of 1/3 recipe which made a cake with a sweetness level just about right for me. However and although I made only 1/4 of the frosting so that the frosting layer was thin, it made the cake too sweet. I can't imagine how horrible the sweetness will be if I didn't reduce the sugar in the cake and the amount of frosting. It makes me suspect that most recipes online have not been tested and brings me back to what I prefer, true and tried recipes by home cooks. Another thing. I think self-raising flour would make a lighter cake for this cake. Not too light but not as sticky-dense as this one. Oh, and another thing about the recipe. It says to bake the cakes for 50 minutes. That's way too long because the batter is divided among three cake pans, giving a thin 2 cm batter. My cakes took only about 30 minutes to bake.


Helen Ting said...

bonology has the same post as you???

terri@adailyobsession said...

helen: you mean they copied my post. so dang frustrating! it's robbery!

Food so delicious! said...

I love hummingbird cake..

What I did differently was that I used corn oil instead of butter and not put so much cinnamon. Another thing I did was to add lemon juice into the cream cheese frosting and that gave it a tangy taste that compliment the cake very well.

I also used pisang raja and that gives it a nice aroma.. Heh! heh! heh! And yes, I reduced sugar too but not as much as you did. By the way, the texture of my hummingbird cake is not dense.. it is rather fluffy but not fluffy airy la. I would say the texture is like an old fashioned sponge cake without the dry effect.

Shan Sandhu said...

Hi Terri just to let you know I've compiled all the articles I've written for Sabah Times on a blog. Does this one seem familiar at all? :)

Terri said...

Honestly Terri, I've made several dishes from Saveur and we have not liked any of them. They seem to be overly sweet, overly spiced or completely bland.

terri@adailyobsession said...

food: one day i will make it again but i'll use SR flour. i think tt's what made the cake rather dense n slightly sticky. thnx for the tips though:)

shan: yes it does:) thnx shan for the article.

terri: what a shame. tt shdn't be:(

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