Hummingbird Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

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This hummingbird cake is packed with banana and pineapple making it incredibly moist and finished off with a brown butter cream cheese frosting

When I first gave this cake a try, it really did not appeal to me. The hummingbird cake I tried was almost soggy from all the fruit in it and did not have a distinctive crumb. I did find the flavours of banana and cinnamon appealing however, and who does not love a cream cheese icing?!

With wanting to keep the flavour intact, but improve on the texture, I set out recipe testing a few versions until I settled on this one. I love that soft pineapple chunks nestled inbetween the layers, and whilst the recipe calls for tinned chunks, fresh pineapple is best, I believe.

What also intrigued me with this recipe was the name! Thanks to Google, i learnt that the Hummingbird cake’s birthplace is Jamaica, in the late ’60’s. Not surprising when you look at the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple. I was almost tempted to add a splash of rum to the frosting in keeping with a Caribbean theme, but decided to keep the recipe kid-friendly (I don’t think this would impact the frosting though, if you want to give it a try ;).

Speaking of the frosting, I did diverge from the more traditional cream cheese frosting, but only slightly. I wanted the nuttiness within the cake to come through in the frosting as well and decided to brown the butter to produce that rich nutty, caramel like flavour. I also added a splash of maple syrup to the frosting which works so well with the banana.

The recipe comes together in a few simple steps. I brown the butter first, then let it cool in the fridge. In this time I get on with the cake batter, and then return to the frosting once the cake is in the oven – maximum time management I tell you!


  • How can I ripen my bananas quicker? You can place the bananas, still in their skin on a baking tray and bake at 150 degrees celcius until the the skin turns black.
  • Can I use butter instead of oil in the recipe? I have only tested this recipe with oil so cannot comment here. You can try swapping out the oil for melted butter, although the predominant flavour is the spices and the banana. So if you are worried about the taste of the oil coming through – don’t.
  • Should I use fresh pineapple? Both work fine, just make sure to drain both of the excess liquid. I usually opt for tinned pineapple as I am lazy to clean a fresh one.
  • Can I make my own buttermilk at home? Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to full cream milk and let it stand for 30 minutes, before using.
  • What should I bear in mind when browning the butter? You want to remove the butter as soon as it starts to smoke and turn a light brown colour, as it will continue to brown from the residual heat of the pan.
  • What is the recipe for a traditional cream cheese frosting? To make a more standard cream cheese frosting, do not brown the butter and omit the maple syrup in the recipe. Increase the vanilla essence to 1 teaspoon.

If you make this recipe, please share it with me by tagging me on Instagram @adventureswithsugar or on Facebook at Adventures with Sugar.


  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 300g cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 180ml buttermilk
  • 250g of very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 150g of canned pineapple chunks, drained
  • 150g pecan nuts, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and line three 20cm round baking tins.
  2. Cream the oil, brown and caster sugars together for two minutes until well combined.
  3. Then add in the eggs, one at a time. Making sure that the one is mixed through before adding the next one.
  4. Add in the vanilla essence.
  5. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and mixed spice together and set aside.
  6. Alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. Add in the mashed bananas, drained pineapple chunks and pecan nuts and mix until well combined.
  8. Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.


  • 700g cream cheese
  • 300g butter, browned (see below)
  • 220g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 45ml maple syrup


  1. To make the brown butter, place the butter in a medium saucepan and let it melt. Once melted, continue to heat the butter until it starts foaming. Continue to monitor it as the foam turns a gentle brown, the butter gives off a nutty aroma and turns brown. Remove it from the heat at this point, it will continue cooking with the residual heat from the pan, so you do not want to burn it! Set it in the refrigerator to set
  2. You can go on making the rest of the cake and then come back to the complete the frosting once the cakes are in the oven.
  3. To complete the frosting, cream the butter until light and airy.
  4. Then add in the icing sugar and beat until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Then gently fold the cream cheese into the butter and icing sugar mixture.
  7. Beating the cream cheese separately ensures that it is not over beaten, and your icing does not end up being too runny.
  8. Add in the vanilla essence and maple syrup and continue to mix until the frosting comes together.
  9. Use the frosting to sandwich the cake layers, by applying a bit in between the layers as well as to frost the sides of the cake.

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