A (Mostly) One-Bowl Banana-Spice Cake With Plenty of Southern Charm

April  6, 2018

Whether or not you’ve ever actually had a piece hummingbird cake before, you’ve probably seen it on your favorite southern food blog. The quirkily named, cream cheese–slathered banana-spice cake with crushed pineapple and chopped nuts has been gracing the kitchens of southerners for generations.

Sweet as birdsong. Photo by James Ransom

There are many versions of this cake, all with their own twists, but my version found its raison d'etre by way of Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram.

A few years ago, Chrissy—I like to think we are on first-name basis—posted a picture of a carrot cake she’d made after Googling “best carrot cake ever.” The Southern Living she used seemed legit for the most part, but the most interesting part of the recipe to me was the sticky-sweet buttermilk glaze that’s used to drown the cake as it comes out of the oven. It seemed like a strange, almost unnecessary step, but curiosity got the best of me. I tried it, I loved it, and I immediately regretted even questioning Ms. Teigen (I mean, Chrissy) in the first place.

The tangy but not overly sweet glaze adds luscious, stick-to-your-fork texture that’s absolutely divine and incredibly addictive. I’ve used this technique to revive an almond cake that came out of the oven a bit dry. I’ve used it to sweeten up a stodgy carrot sheet cake that was a bit dull. I’ve even used it to add a tangy twist to traditional vanilla cupcakes. But my favorite way is with this Hummingbird Cake. If you exclude the frosting, it’s a super-simple one-bowl cake that you won’t even need a mixer for. But since it’s only one layer, you won’t have to spend a lot of time frosting it, which means less time you’ll have to wait before eating it.

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This is a cake you’re guaranteed to love. And please, don’t thank me, thank Chrissy.

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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning producer, recipe developer and food writer. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies (with salt.)