Legend of the Hummingbird Cake
A Victorian cake recipe that is truly exceptional. The perfect cake to bring to gatherings…it’s easy, freezes well, serves many.
“Impress your friends with this hummingbird cake, a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. If desired, crush additional pecans and press them into the sides of the frosting, and place sliced maraschino cherries on top of the cake to “guild of the Lily.”
There are many versions of this cake.
Hummingbird Cake History
Southern Living magazine is generally credited with the first reference to Hummingbird Cake. She published the recipe in her February 1978 issue, submitted by Mrs. LH Wiggins of Greensboro, NC But Mrs. Wiggins did not include an explanation for the unusual name of the cake, which remains a mystery, yet folklore says that the hummingbird is a symbol of sweetness.
Hummingbirds are known to be attracted to intensely sweet sources, they can assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they reject the types of flowers that produce nectar with less than 12% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is around 25%.
the most sought after recipe, the perfect cake to take to meetings, it’s easy, it freezes well, it serves many people. There have been other versions of the recipe since the 1978 version, such as a lighter version, an organic version, but not a low carb version to date that I know of. Of course, any recipe can substitute some of the ingredients. If you really want to impress your friends and family, imagine a hummingbird cake for your wedding.
It is a southern delight that gives you the essence of the tropics with its bananas and crushed pineapple. Restaurants from the East Coast to the West Coast have made this delicious cake for their transplant clients from the South. The pie has won many awards, The Kentucky Derby Cook Book[Kentucky Derby Museum:Louisville KY, 1986] contains a recipe for Hummingbird Cake on pg. 204. A note printed in this book reads: “Hummingbird Pie. Helen Wiser’s recipe won Favorite Pie at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair.”
In 1978, chefs baked the cake when the bananas had overripe, it was the perfect way to use up bananas. The recipe and the cake have many names. Endless Cake is the name given by Pauline Isley. A respondent from Benton provided Jamaican Cake, a title that might not be too far off considering the ingredients. Ella Sheets knows it as Granney’s Best Cake. Nothing Left Cake is the name provided by Patricia H. Downes of Jacksonville, who, at 8 and Sounds like 11, prefers it without icing.
More than 75 copies of the recipe have been received, most of them identical. Variations _ especially in mixing directions, oil measurement and additional fruit _ are incorporated into the recipe that follows. Cake That Won’t Last.” —Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), April 3, 1985
Mrs. Wiggins Recipe 
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups salad oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided
2 cups of chopped bananas
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl; add eggs and salad oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t hit. Add vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and bananas. Spoon batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. 25 to 30 minutes; Remove from pans and cool immediately. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Yield: One 9-inch layer cake.
cream cheese frosting
2 packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 packages (16 ounces) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Yield: Enough for a 3-layer cake.–Mrs. L. H. Wiggins, Greenboro, North Carolina”
—“Making the Most of Bananas”, Southern Living, Feb 1978 (p. 206)
The Kentucky Derby Cookbook [Kentucky Derby Museum:Louisville KY, 1986] contains a recipe for Hummingbird Cake on pg. 204. A note printed in this book reads: “Hummingbird Pie. Helen Wiser’s recipe won Favorite Pie at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair.”