11 November 2010
Things That Make You Go Hmmmm
Or Hum in this instance, as in Hummingbird cupcakes. An odd name for a tasty treat and there has been much speculation on where the name of the Hummingbird cake or cupcake gets its origins. According to the Food Timeline, “Food historians generally cite Mrs. L.H. Wiggin's recipe published in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine as the first printed reference to "Hummingbird Cake." Mrs. Wiggins did not offer an explanation of the name. Evidence strongly suggests this cake was popular in the south and known by several different (and equally interesting) names.” Many say that the name is a nod to its sweetness – hummingbirds are drawn to intensely sweet sources just as people are drawn to this cake. Incidentally, the Hummingbird Cake remains Southern Living’s most requested recipe.
It goes on to say that this cake is likely Jamaican in origin - the hummingbird (aka Dr. Bird) is one of the national symbols – though may have been adapted for American tastes. The combination of bananas, crushed pineapple and nuts common in most hummingbird cake recipes certainly is reminiscent of the tropics. A press kit dating back to 1969 from the Kingston (Jamaica) Daily Gleaner included a recipe for the Doctor Bird cake, made from bananas. And a contributor to an article in the Charlotte Observer notes that her family recipe for the Dr. Bird cake came to her from Jamaican Airlines in the late ‘60’s.
Another theory is that in the old days, people would hum as they ate the cake because it was so incredibly delicious. I like this idea best of all and invite you to tell me what you think; my recipe for Hummingbird cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart) follows:
Hummingbird Cupcakes with Orange Creamsicle Frosting
For the cupcakes:
110 grams unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
200 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas (the riper the better!), mashed
170 grams pineapple (5 rounds, canned), crushed
120 g pecans, crushed
190 grams all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one and mix until blended. Add vanilla and mix. Mix in the bananas, pineapple and pecans until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon, and then fold this into the batter. Lastly mix in the white chocolate chips. Fill either greased and lightly floured or paper-lined cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way full and bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool before frosting.
Orange Creamsicle Frosting
by Sugar Daze
80 grams cream cheese at room temperature
100 grams butter at room temperature
450 grams powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
1-2 teaspoons fleur d’oranger
Mix cream cheese and butter until well-combined. Add in about half the sugar, the orange zest and fleur d'oranger and mix until smooth. Gradually add in the remaining sugar (you may not need all) until the frosting reaches a nice spreading consistency. Pipe on cupcakes or smooth on with a palette knife. Eat and say hummmmmmmm!