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Recipe Fri Sep 30 2011

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Aside from an occasional batch of corn bread, I very rarely bake. It involves too much measuring and way too much sifting. I like to improvise on the fly and just don't have the patience to get out all of the items and measure them precisely to create a baked good. But a friend mentioned this Hummingbird Cake recipe by Art Smith that she had at Table 52 and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I adore cream-cheese frosting on cakes. It is, hands down, my favorite. And when I realized the cake was packed full of bananas and pineapple, I decided I had to make it.

And it wasn't as hard as I expected. I will admit that the frosting was made in a stand mixer, but I suspect that a hand mixer would work just as well and not take much more time, or create more of a mess.

However, if I were to do this again, I would drain the pineapple more thoroughly and use more pineapple and less banana. It took me 6 frozen and then thawed bananas to get to 2 cups. And I think reducing that by 1/2 cup and increasing the pineapple in an equal measure would result in more of a pineapple flavor. And I think I would use slivered almonds instead of pecans.

But in the end, the family I fed, and the coworkers who enjoyed the remaining slices, found the cake enjoyable and pretty. One could say they descended on the cake like hummingbirds. They ate until it was gone and then disappeared silently. Which may be how the cake was named the Hummingbird Cake.

Not by me, not by Art, but by Jamaican cooks who are believed to have brought the cake to the US. The Food Timeline has copies of this cake going back to the 1960's, sometimes appearing under the name "The Cake That Doesn't Last". And the recipe published in 1978 in Southern Living is remarkably similar to Mr. Smith's recipe. However, the frosting contains half as much sugar and I suspect if you were to make the frosting with two pounds of sugar, you just might have to fight off hummingbirds to get to enjoy the cake.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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