While my original intention was to only bake things I have never made before, I snuck in hummingbird cake (my personal favorite) by topping it with dried pineapple flowers. I have seen these beautiful little cupcake toppers floating all over the blogosphere, but never really thought I would actually do it. As I was wondering around the grocery store after work, I decided it was time to put it to the test. I found this quick set of guidelines on The Tasty Bite Blog when I got home & set to it.
I probably should have thought it through a little bit better and maybe read some directions before I bought the pineapple. Because I recently learned how to pick a ripe pineapple (you just grab one of the leaves on top in the middle and if it pulls out easily, then it's ripe!), I put my new knowledge to use & bought a ripe pineapple. Because it was so ripe, it was actually a terrible choice for making dried pineapple flowers! It was so juicy and that makes it even more difficult to cut. I also haven't sharpened my kitchen knife in far too long, which made it even trickier. I didn't get any paper thin slices because I was a bit too pre-occupied with not slicing my fingers open. These ended up baking for almost 2 hours, and many of them were still not actually very dry but I couldn't wait any longer. Now I know?! Enough of them were cute that it was still worth it, plus I ate all the pineapple that was too thick to attempt to bake for breakfast.
The hummingbird cake recipe is from Nikki at the Tolerant Vegan. It's terrific in every way. Don't even think twice about roasting the bananas. It's a total must to get the caramel-y flavor which adds another great note to the cake. Some people like to throw some shredded coconut in their hummingbird cake, but it's just not my thing. Don't get me wrong I love coconut, but the texture of shredded coconut isn't something I want in my cake. Not that you can see the frosting since the point of these cupcakes were to decorate them with flowers, but they are topped with cream cheese frosting.
Red velvet and coconut might be the most recognizable Southern cakes, but hummingbird was the most popular recipe request from Southern Living Magazine until the last few years. In 1978 by a lady from North Carolina submitted the first recipe to Southern Living, and it became infamous. She never shared the name's origin story, but I have heard several theories over the years. That the cake is sweet enough to attract hummingbirds, the people flock around the cake like hummingbirds around a flower, that the flavors originate from Jamaica where the national bird is hummingbird… I'm liking folks flocking around the cake like birds around a flower, because of the way I decorated these little babies, but who really knows?!