The Harbinger Online

Baking Bad: Hummingbird Cake

Breaks are always nice. Well, no, actually, breaks are great. They’re phenomenal, even. So when I finally came to terms with the fact that winter break was over, I cried. A lot. But with the end of winter break comes an entire semester of baking opportunities. And for that, I can’t help but be excited.

For my first baking project of the semester, I went with a classic cake: hummingbird cake. The words incite a feeling of lightness, of sweetness. Of course, within the cake there aren’t any birds, but the feeling remains. A hummingbird cake, according to my mom, is a relic of southern baking. When my mom requested that I bake such a cake with her I was pretty confused, considering the fact that we aren’t the least bit southern. But hell hath no fury like a mother who wants cake, so I complied.

Hummingbird cake is pretty much like any standard cake, but what makes it exceptional is that its moisture is entirely due to the fact that it’s composed of a whole can of pineapple and two cups of mashed bananas. I started out by first mixing together all of my dry ingredients, and then mixing together the banana with all of the wet. Once the two were mixed, I combined them and tossed in a cup of chopped pecans.

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Because there was enough cake batter to constitute more than an entire bundt pan, I decided to utilize two baby cake pans to make my own personal cakes. After greasing both of my baby pans and a bundt pan, I poured the batter into all three containers.

As I’ve stated before, many times, my arm strength is the complete opposite of Herculean, so I struggled a bit with lifting the five-plus pound bowl of cake batter. However, the task was completed with little issue and only a few Advil. I ended up doing some major squats in the kitchen so that I was able to carefully lower the cakes into my oven, but once my quads were well-worked and the cakes secured, I was done. At least, for about 20 minutes.

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Most of the 20 minutes the cakes were in the oven I spent considering taking a nap and dreaming about Joaquin Phoenix. However, the timer dinged before I came to a final conclusion. Upon lifting them out of the oven, a scent so heavenly that I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming wafted to my nose.

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As I let the cakes cool, I stared at them like a giddy grade-schooler would stare at a clock before recess. One minute. Two minutes. By the time tree minutes had passed, I threw both of the baby cakes into the freezer to speed up the process. After about five more, I pulled them out and set them on my counter. Too lazy to make icing, I decided to do a simple honey glaze. After drizzling warm honey over the two cakes, I dove in. And oh man.

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If anything good came out of the South, other than Cheerwine, it’s definitely hummingbird cake. The cake was so moist I thought I was eating a sponge. A really sweet, delicious sponge with just enough crunch. Although hummingbird cake is typically iced with a buttercream frosting with chopped pecans, I’m glad I stuck with honey. The honey paired really nicely with the cake, and didn’t overpower it. Overall, it was truly wonderful.

If I’m going to be honest, even though we’ve been back at school for over two weeks, I’m still mourning winter break. I vehemently miss the days of Tumblr and Netflix and endless stacks of blankets. With my hummingbird cake success, though, I think I can bear the next seven weeks until spring break (it’s not like I’m counting or anything). Just the thought of how many baking possibilities there are sends shivers down my spine. And really, I can’t be more excited about it.

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