Recipe: Hummingbird Cupcakes

These are the hummingbird cupcakes I made for a recent wedding.  By request of the bride, they contained tinned apricot, which is not something I’ve seen in hummingbird cake before, as well as nuts, which are a traditional part of the recipe, but one I normally skip.  By sheer tiredness on my part, they are also somewhat low fat, because I forgot to put oil in the first batch.  When I added it to the second batch, I found that the cakes tended to erupt and weren’t as tasty anyway, so I decided to skip it when writing it up.

These cakes are lovely – fruity and tangy and light and luxurious all at once, with a suitably decadent cream cheese icing.  If you want to know how to make the toffee spikes I used as garnish, I recommend visiting Brave Tart, who provides an excellent description of the process.  Have a look at the comments, as they contain more information – I wound up using styrofoam to stick the toothpicks into, which is excellent, but you do need to weight it with something, or it will tip over and all your beautiful spikes will fall onto the floor…

This writing up will be slightly approximate, as while I did write down what I did, my notes were a bit cryptic, and I haven’t had the opportunity to make these cakes since the wedding, so there is a little guesswork involved.  Especially as I know full well I kept on putting more fruit in.  I’ve adjusted the recipe to allow for this.  It is, however, a very forgiving recipe – I’ve made it several different ways – and it will work just fine so long as you don’t do something silly like forgetting to put in the eggs…

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330g self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp bicarb of soda
330 g brown sugar
120 g shredded coconut (much nicer than the desecrated kind, so use this if at all possible)
150 g macadamia nuts, chopped
150 g glacé fruit (pineapple, apricot, ginger) chopped
250g tinned apricots
300g tinned crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups banana, a bit past ripe, mashed (this was about 3 bananas)
3 eggs
250 g cream cheese
250 g light cream cheese
160 g icing sugar
zest of two lemons

Now what will you do with it?

If you haven’t done this already, chop all your nuts and glacé fruit, and use your fingers to squish the tinned apricots.  Use a fork to mash the banana.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and line two 12-hole muffin tins with those little doohickeys whose name I have forgotten.  Patty cases?  Are they patty cases if they are muffin sized?  This is a bad start…

Put the flour, spices, bicarb, sugar and coconut in a large bowl and mix together well.

Dump in the chopped nuts and glace fruit, along with the tinned fruit and banana, and mix thoroughly.  Add the eggs, and mix some more.  This will be a fairly lumpy, wet batter, but it should hold together a bit.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins (you may not fill all 24, if I recall correctly), and bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until they pass the skewer test.

To make the icing, let the cream cheese come to room temperature (low fat cream cheese does this much faster, which is one reason I use it!).  Beat it with the lemon zest, then sift in enough icing sugar to get you the consistency you want.  I like mine very soft, hence the relatively low amount of icing sugar – if you want something a bit less sticky, just keep adding icing sugar until you are happy with it (and don’t be surprised if you use twice as much as I have here, or even more).  Pipe or spread the icing onto the cake.

You can garnish with the aforementioned caramel nuts, or use attractive slices or segments of glacé fruit, or crushed macadamia nuts, or coconut, or nothing at all.

Don’t forget to make lots of them!


This is dairy free until you spoil it all with the icing, however, you can make a pretty good mock cream cheese icing with Tofutti cream cheese if you like.  Same recipe, though you may want to use margarine to replace some of it.  This will also work with a good gluten-free flour mix (stay tuned for my post on gluten-free flours!), but my gut feeling is that this particular recipe really does need the eggs to hold it together.  I’ll figure out a vegan hummingbird cake recipe soon, though, because this shouldn’t be impossible.

No way this is ever going to be fructose friendly, or particularly low-GI, sorry, but you can easily take out the nuts – it works fine without, and that’s how I usually make it.

But if you do like nuts, you know you want to toffee them like this, don’t you…


This time last year…

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4 comments for “Recipe: Hummingbird Cupcakes

  1. lensaddiction
    September 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    So where exactly do I buy desecrated coconut? Do I pay extra for the desecration? Inquiring minds……

    • September 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      I usually get it at an unhallowed supermarket, preferably at the stroke of midnight. You can get the ordinary, dessicated stuff from just about any mummy’s tomb these days, but I find it doesn’t have quite the same malefic texture.

      • lensaddiction
        September 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        LOL 🙂

  2. June 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Lovely work, Cate. Thanks for bringing it on over. Cheers

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