This recipe and story were originally posted on September 14, 2012 and updated January 7, 2021.
My Dad has never been an emotional person. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t really express his feelings – you know, the rough, tough exterior kind of thing. I’ve never seen him cry (though my Mom tells me she saw it happen when our beloved family dog, Maggie, died several years ago). I can probably count on one hand the number of times he’s said “I love you.” And that’s okay with me. I know he loves me. We understand each other like that. And honestly, though we might sign it in birthday cards or something, I can’t say that I’ve shared those 3 little words with him often either. But again, I think he knows that I do love him.
The other day, I called to talk to my mom and Dad answered the phone. We chatted for a few minutes and when we went to say goodbye, I said “love you” in one of those accidental, habitual, that’s-what-I-always-say kind of ways. It was a slip. It shocked me. Honestly, it caught us both off guard. Neither of us knew what to say after that and Mom quickly came on the line. At first I regretted creating the awkwardness. But the more I thought about it, the more proud I became about what had happened, because the truth is… I do love him. I love him for the father he was and is to me, the husband is to my mother, and the “Papa” he is to my little boy. Maybe you should consider one of those accidental “I love yous” today. You never know how it might make you feel…
Hummingbird Cake is one of my wife’s favorite desserts, but a layer cake can be a little challenging and time consuming. Turning this into an easy sheet cake makes it easier to accomplish in a fraction of the time without sacrificing flavor.
The humble Hummingbird Cake has somewhat of an unclear history. Some say it was created by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina and first published by Southern Living in 1978. But some detective work by the Greensboro News & Record in 2014 couldn’t find anyone that actually knew her. Others say that it’s based on something called a Doctor Bird Cake (doctor bird was a nickname for the swallow-tailed hummingbird) and the recipe came from a Jamaican Airline as part of some promotional information. Being that the hummingbird is the national bird of Jamaica, this might stand to reason. That said, I’m not able to confirm either story.
Regardless, I’m just glad someone came up with it because it’s a family favorite for sure. The dense, moist cake is flavored with canned pineapple, banana, vanilla, and just a hint of cinnamon and is studded with chopped pecans.
The method is a little different than most traditional cake recipes, as there’s no creaming butter and sugar and it calls for a generous amount of vegetable oil. But it produces a cake that stays moist for days and has a unique texture and flavor.
And then there’s the cream cheese frosting. I mean… what ISN’T good with cream cheese frosting?
Now, admittedly, some folks get a little peeved because they see “sheet cake” in the title and complain that it’s not a full 18×24 sheet cake size. The term sheet cake is used here to give the distinction that it’s not a layer cake. That said, a 9×13-inch cake pan is roughly a quarter sheet, so I suppose, technically, it’s still a sheet cake. Calling it a “Hummingbird Quarter Sheet Cake” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
See my other “sheet” cake recipes: Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream, Coconut Sheet Cake, Best Strawberry Sheet Cake, Easy Caramel Sheet Cake, Cookies and Cream Sheet Cake, Buttermilk Chocolate Cake
Hummingbird Sheet Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 bananas, chopped
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F and lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together. Add the eggs and oil and mix well.
- Add the vanilla, pineapple, bananas, and pecans. Stir gently to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before
- Use an electric mixer to combine the room temperature butter and cream cheese until smooth and completely combined. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.