I made the cake layers from a traditional recipe and sensed right away that it would be drier and denser than what I wanted, which I confirmed after it cooled. It's possible that I baked it a couple of minutes longer than I should have, so I'll not fault the recipe. But it gave me an opportunity to make the version from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread, which she calls Monkey Cake, having "monkeyed around" with the ingredient proportions of the traditional Hummingbird Cake.
I'm happy to say that it was a great cake. It had the rich density and moistness that I expect from the original, but in two layers instead of three. (I suspect that the Hummingbird usually has three layers because it needs the extra frosting to make the cake moister). At any rate, enough already. This recipe's a keeper.
Adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread
2 3/4 cups (390 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (268 grams) canola oil
3 large eggs (150 grams - out of the shell)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (436 grams) ripe, mashed bananas (with small chunks remaining)
8 ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice (not syrup)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans for the top (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of baking parchment, grease, then dust lightly with flour. Shake out excess.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir briefly on low speed, to distribute the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until they are well combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed, just until all the flour has been moistened (less than 20 seconds).
3. Add the bananas and pineapple and stir briefly on low speed to distribute them evenly, about 20 seconds. Then add pecans and mix on low speed, just until combined, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Don't overmix the batter or the cake will be tough.
4. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared cake pans (pans should be about half-full). Place the pans on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 38 minutes, or until the cake is almost ready to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
5. Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack that's been sprayed with cooking spray and lift off the pans. Cool them completely on the rack. Remove the parchment liner.
6. Frost with cream cheese frosting; then sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but allow it to sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
***NOTE: I weighed my ingredients when making this cake and I'm glad I did. I had to add extra egg and take out a little of the flour, both of which would have had an impact on the texture of the cake. I'll say it again - it's actually easier to weigh ingredients than measure and ensures better results. Check this previous post for a scale that's inexpensive and stores easily.
You can also weigh your pans when the batter's in them to ensure your layers are the same size and bake evenly.
One other note: It's not necessary to have a standing mixer for this recipe. You can mix it by hand, if necessary, as the traditional recipe calls for.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1 lb. cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add half of the sifted confectioners' sugar and beat until well combined. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.