Spring is finally here and for me that means the return of Hummingbird Cake season! I don’t know why I associate Hummingbird Cake with Spring; perhaps it’s the name, perhaps it’s the fruity tropical ingredients that remind me of warmth and sunshine. Whatever the case it’s that time of year and just because you don’t eat gluten, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake! Today I’m sharing how I make this classic gluten free with the option of also making it dairy free.
They say you learn something new everyday and today was no exception for me. I learned that the delicious Hummingbird Cake is actually not a Southern delicacy, but really originated in Jamaica. It makes sense though doesn’t it? All the main ingredients, pineapple, bananas, cinnamon originate from the islands. Of course we embraced it fully in the states and added our own spin: decadent cream cheese frosting. However, today I’d like to give credit where credit is due to the Jamaicans for one of my favorite cakes. Originally known as the Doctor Bird Cake, it is now the beloved Southern classic, the Hummingbird Cake.
I typically don’t make cakes unless it’s a special occasion. This time it’s my son’s Baek-il or 100 Day Party. Next week I’ll go into more detail about the origins and reason for 100 Day parties in Korean culture, but for this week I’ll focus on the yummy and gluten free cake I’m making for the celebration. So why have I chosen the Hummingbird Cake for a Korean celebration? A couple of reasons: first it’s one of my favorite cakes and makes me think of Springtime, which is finally here! Second, the added bananas and pineapple give much needed moisture to a gluten free cake mix. I needed this cake to taste like a regular cake for our party guests and the added fruit really helps!
I always like putting my own twist on classics. This recipe is no exception. I decided to also evoke the flavors of the classic Jamaican rum punch by adding orange zest and juice to the frosting and spiced rum to the cake mix. You could also add rum to the frosting, I just had children coming to this party and needed to ensure the alcohol baked off.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did and please comment below with your own spin on this classic cake!
Gluten Free Rum Punch Hummingbird Cake
For the cake:
2 packets of Pamela’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix
6 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 & 1/3 cups water
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh finely chopped pineapple with juice
3 ripe bananas sliced
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp spiced rum (optional)
For the frosting:
2 sticks of butter softened (I prefer Kerry Gold)
2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese softened
2-3 cups of confectioner’s sugar
Zest of one orange
Note: For a dairy free cream cheese frosting, I suggest using this recipe from Minimalist Baker and adding the orange zest and juice. I was serving this cake to people who do not eat either gluten or dairy free, so didn’t want to change it up too much!
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit (or according to your cake mix instructions).
- Lightly grease 3 nine inch round pans.
- Whisk eggs, oil, water, vanilla and rum together.
- Add dry mix and cinnamon and beat on medium/low for 30 seconds. Do not over mix.
- Fold in pineapple, bananas and pecans just until evenly interspersed in mix.
- Divide cake batter evenly into 3 round 9 inch pans.
- Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Note: The Pamela’s cake instructions will tell you to bake for 38-43 minutes. I found with the added moisture from the fruit this was not nearly enough time, hence the longer bake time.
- Allow cakes to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then flip out onto a wire rack to finish cooling for at least an hour before frosting.
For the frosting
- Beat together softened butter, cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
- Add confectioner’s sugar in increments of a 1/2 cup to create desired consistency.
- Lastly beat in orange juice and zest.
To assemble cake
- Place one cake on a serving dish and frost the top with cream cheese frosting.
- Put the second cake on top of first and again frost the top generously.
- Place third cake on top of second and frost the top generously.
- Next frost the sides of the cake.
- Use the remaining frosting (if you have any) to decorate the cake as desired with rosettes, swirls, etc.
- Finally finish it off with whole pecans placed in a pretty pattern on the top and sides of cake if desired. Note: for my cake we decorated for the 100 Day party.
Some final notes on this recipe: you’ll find that this cake is pretty dense. However, all our non gluten free friends and family commented that they really enjoyed the cake and it reminded them of banana bread. If you wanted to try and get a fluffier more cake-like texture, I would add an extra egg or two. We enjoyed it as is though and despite the density it is very moist. It also stores well in the refrigerator and is actually even better the next day.
Hope you enjoy and please comment below on your experience.