Wednesday, April 6, 2011

on cake and hummingbirds

This week has flown by and yet I can't really remember what I've done. So, I'm choosing instead to reflect on last weekend because it was rather nice.

On Saturday we headed down to the Pyrmont Farmers' Markets, sampled the wares and bought some fun vegies to inspire myself to make something healthy. What I did end up making though was a cake for my Dad's birthday on Sunday - one of my all-time favourites from when I was a kid - Hummingbird Cake. We used to visit a cafe called Trader Nick's when we were on holidays and they would serve great, dense, delicious wedges of this cake. I had never encountered it before then and was captivated. Recently, a friend told me she'd made it for her husband and almost instantly my tastebuds ignited with long-lost memories. So, I decided for Dad's surprise cake I'd revisit an old favourite.  I'm not quite sure where the name comes from but it may have something to do with the sweetness of the pineapple and banana.

Just on the subject of Hummingbirds, I'd be curious to know if you have ever seen one and if so, where? I have a distinct memory of having seen one fluttering around a flower box out of a hotel window in Italy.  I mentioned this at an English tutorial many moons ago (we were studying scientific writings by the likes of Charles Darwin) and the Professor dismissed it as geographically impossible.

Still, regardless of the geographical inclinations of hummingbirds, the cake named after them can be enjoyed anywhere. So without further ado, let's get to it eh?

Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from the reliably good Women's Weekly Classic Cakes

450g can crushed pineapple in syrup

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (I left this out due to family allergies but it does add a certain something to the mix)
1 cup mashed banana
2 eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 cup vegetable oil

For the frosting
30g butter, softened
60g cream cheese, softened
a nice big squeeze of lemon
1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 160C fan-forced and grease and line a round cake pan.

Drain the pineapple over a small bowl and reserve 1/4 cup of the syrup.

Sift the flours, soda, spices and sugar into a large bowl and then stir in the drained pineapple, reserved syrup, coconut, banana, egg and oil, until all mixed in well.

Pour the mixture into your pan and bake for 40 minutes - 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Stand in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese and icing together in a medium bowl, gradually adding in the lemon until a desired consistency is reached. Then slather frosting over the cooled cake. Slice up a decent wedge and enjoy with a cup of tea or, as we did, with some Tokay that my Dad had brought back from a recent trip to the wine country. Happy Birthday Dad!


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