Two years ago, my little work world changed forever when the darling, amazing, wonderful, fantastic, hilarious Rachael Binning came to the JMM and started sharing my office. Thrown together on pretty much every possible project, we soon became very close, and she has been that person that shares my obsessions, can finish my sentences, and will giggle uncontrollably with me. Without her I would have practically nobody to talk to about new Apple products, Mormon mommy-bloggers, and whether or not we think it’s weird that so and so did whatever. Not to mention nobody would be inclined to break into hysterics because they remember the time an old lady in the Target parking lot asked me to ride her electric wheelchair back into the store. She’s the best office mate I could have ever hoped for, and an amazing friend. Unfortunately this is her last week at the JMM, something I’m devastated by. I know she’ll go on to much greater things, but my office will be quite a bit darker next week.
For forever Rachael has been asking me to make her a hummingbird cake, something that I was lazy about doing because, well, I’m not a huge fan of cakes and this one has pineapples in it, which I’m allergic to (in that they make my mouth go numb). But for her going away party I couldn’t resist, so on Sunday I whipped one up. Thankfully, Southern Living had recently sent me a copy of Classic Southern Desserts to review, which contained a recipe for their “Updated Hummingbird Cake.” The fact that a recipe I’d promised to make Rachael was in a book I had been planning to review was, as my Esther would say, beshert. According to the book “Hummingbird cake is the most requested recipe in Southern Living history. The recipe first appeared in the magazine in 1978 as a reader recipe submitted by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina; since then it’s been the star at the table at family gatherings across the South. This updated version has less sugar and oil than the original, fewer eggs, and half the salt.”
I am not a particularly reliable judge of cakes, but this one was good. Made up of so much fruit it is dense, almost like a traditional fruitcake. My opinion doesn’t matter though because Rachael LOVED it. She raved about it all day and that made me the happiest person in the world. I may not have been able to keep Rachael as my coworker, but I can send her home with a ton of cake that makes her smile. And, that is something.
Updated Hummingbird Cake
Classic Southern Desserts by Southern Living
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs, beaten
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cups mashed ripe banana (5-6 bananas)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 32oz package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Walnuts for garnish
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together eggs, pineapple, banana, applesauce, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and add to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Pour batter into three greased and floured 9″ round cake pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until cooked through. Cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks. Cool an additional hour.
Beat cream cheese and butter at a medium speed until cream. Gradually add powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and juice.
Layer the cakes with a generous amount of icing in between each layer. Coat top and side with icing and garnish with walnuts.