I was recently introduced to this classic southern cake through one of my friends from the Deep South. I was intrigued by the name as my mom keeps a dish of grape jelly on her porch to attract hummingbirds and has regular visitors. The Hummingbird Cake is a very unusual one; it’s made with oil rather than butter, and contains more fruit than flour. The mix doesn’t need beating, is wonderful with a cream cheese frosting, and is flavored with interesting spices and pecans. Contrary to the name, there are no birds in this particular recipe! The giveaway to the Hummingbird Cake’s birthplace, however, is in the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple. It’s thought to have been invented in Jamaica, probably in the late ‘60s, and introduced to society through Southern Living magazine by a Mrs. L.H. Wiggin in 1978.
Since it’s a dessert made for ladies, we thought it would be a crowd pleasing addition to our weekly Harborside Teas. We always offer two choices of dessert, and it was fun to have a whole new recipe and an unusual one at that. It was so popular that we thought it warranted giving away the recipe. A thin slice will do you – this cake is rich! And oh, so good…
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cream together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans in another large bowl.
Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the cream cheese with an electric mixer.
Add in butter and cream together with cream cheese until light and fluffy.
Add confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
Add in vanilla and cream until well-blended, light and fluffy.
Every year after school is out, our young community teenage girls have a 3-week “summer camp” with several of our Sisters. This year they went to New Hampshire for the event.
They were very excited and eagerly looking forward to the many activities ahead of them: lots of time out of doors, hiking, swimming, boating and gardening. I knew that nature crafts would be a part of their learning experiences, and also that there would be indoor activities such as housekeeping and of course, some cooking. I made them promise me that they would surprise me by making something new and different from any of their old standbys. They did not let me down, but kept their promise and came up with this scrumptious, raspberry peach upside down cake, inspired by a raspberry picking event that none of us knew would be happening before they went to camp. I could not have been more pleased!
Slice peaches. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Place 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until melted then add brown sugar and cook until both are combined and melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern (overlapping if needed) in skillet on top of sugar. Add raspberries in areas not covered with peaches. Set aside.
Cream together vanilla, 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until the yellow disappears. Add sour cream and blend.
On low speed, add flour mixture and beat just until combined stopping to scrape the sides a few times. Pour batter onto peaches and smooth out to the edges.
Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges to release and invert onto a cake plate allowing the cake to cool another 10 minutes.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
I have always found bread baking to be an intensely spiritual and creative act. You mix, you knead, you wait. It is prayer.
In our Convent during Lent, we always make an effort to serve a traditional Lenten meal, most often with candlelight and readings. A simple sampling of hard boiled eggs, cheese, some dried fruits, and nuts, is always accompanied by a smorgasbord of beautiful homemade breads. Tonight is no exception. With 65 Sisters in our Convent, we start early with our bread baking and continue through the day.
I am partial to this recipe, one that my grandmother passed on to me, and I am blessed to pass it on to you. It is wonderful sliced and toasted with a big smear of butter and jam. Don’t be daunted by making bread—there is really no fear to be had here! Bake and break bread with your family this Lent and see what God can do.
Lightly grease two 8” loaf pans with Crisco and sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom of the pans. Set aside
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Sprinkle your yeast over the very warm water, mix with a fork and leave for about 5 min. until bubbles form and your yeast is “active”. (If your yeast doesn’t do anything at this stage, throw it out and begin again!)
Microwave your milk until it is very warm to the touch, but not so much that you can’t stick your finger in it, about 125 degrees
Add your warm milk to your active yeast mixture in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over. Mix with a wooden spoon.
Add the flour, one cup at a time, stirring the dough as you go. After adding about 2 cups of flour, add your salt and baking soda, then add the remainder of your flour.
The dough will look quite dry and stiff at this point, so remove the dough onto a counter and knead the rest of the flour into the dough until it is a smooth dough.
Divide the dough in half, form two oblong loaves and press these into the prepared pans.
Put the dough in a warm place to rise, covered with a tea towel, for about 45 min. The dough should be doubled in size.
Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 min.
Remove from the pans immediately onto a cooling rack and let cool.
We are always grateful and encouraged by the donors who support our community and its work. They are a vital part in what we do, making it possible for us to carry on from day to day. Many of them have become loyal friends who call us for prayer for their own needs. A bond of trust has developed between us that goes beyond just their material gift giving to us.
As a token expression of our thanks to them we frequently send out tins of homemade cookies baked by the Sisters. I am always amazed at how much they appreciate this little gesture on our part and am often amused to hear reports of cookies arriving at just the right time to lift recipients’ spirits sometimes totally changing the mood or atmosphere of the entire office by their arrival.
When we include our wheatless peanut butter goodies, the people who have a gluten-free diet tell us that they are moved beyond words.These are amazingly tasty and loved by one and all (whether the eaters are gluten-free or not.) If they are not already in your cookie repertoire they should be!
Twenty five years ago, our community collaborated on a cookbook called Recipes that Bear Repeating, which is still one of my favorite cookbooks. The recipes are tried and true, many of which have served our guests and retreatants over the years. One of our founders, Mother Cay, liked to remind us that Jesus loves to meet us in the little jobs that make up everyday life. “Life with Jesus,” she would say, “is in the mundane!” And we have found over and over again that He cares very much about the small things that concern us — what to have for dinner, how to celebrate our holidays, and so on through our daily life.
As we walk through Lent, we are reminded of these words, and pray that you also will meet Jesus in the kitchen, doing the laundry, cleaning the house or whatever your “mundane” might be.
My mother used to make the best molasses spice cookies. They were thin and somewhat crispy, buttery and spicy. Many years ago she gave me the recipe, but unfortunately I don’t remember what special place I put it in to save it! But I came across this recipe a couple of years ago. They don’t resemble my mom’s cookies, but I must say the flavor evokes those buttery crispy spicy cookies she used to make.