this recipe was inspired by 'the girl who chased the moon" by sarah addison allen, we just got done reading it in the discover epeolatry book club that was founded my myself and my wonderful friend michelle of the vibrant kitchen & home, it was an easy magical read that had it's fair share of decadent dessert descriptions.
of all the recipes mentioned throughout the story, i suppose i was drawn to the hummingbird cake because of it's name, seeing or reading about hummingbird cake never fails to conjure up memories of the beautiful hummingbird itself, a bird that i've had a long standing love for, the national bird of jamaica, known by islanders as the doctor bird, immortalised in the islands history by the arawaks who believed them to be magical, the reincarnation of dead souls. i grew up watching these beautiful iridescent birds darting between hibiscus flowers with swift grace, listening to the hum of their rapidly beating wings while they actively sought out, with persistence and tenacity, the sweetest treasure the flower had to offer, it's nectar. they never seem to tire, effortless and majestic in their quest for all the sweetness they can find. a fun fact about hummingbirds, their fluttering wings move in a pattern that creates the infinity symbol, this is a part of the reason the hummingbird is seen as a symbol for eternity and continuity within many different cultures. they are reminders that we are to be persistent in the journey and pursuit of our dreams throughout life, to seek out the best that we can, to be tenacious, to look for the good in everything and in every day.
my first and only tattoo (for the time being) is of a hummingbird and hibiscus flowers, a tattoo i designed myself and had done over 10 years ago, i had no idea of it's symbolism at the time, i just knew that it's what i wanted, a tattoo that brings me back to a layer of my life, a period in time when i wasn't sure about anything, which i suppose is a state that is a right of passage for most 18 year olds. i was uncertain about the world but i remember being absolutely certain that there was a path that i wanted to carve out within it for myself, on my own terms. the vastness and possibilities, gave me that heady sense of being, as if at any moment i could veer out of control or i could hold tight, enjoy the ride and find all that my heart desired, the possibilities made me giddy.
i don't know if it's the sagittarius in me but i existed with a very specific feeling in my gut, a tight pull, similar to the feeling you get before you jump from somewhere really high up, a feeling that had me sitting right on the edge of spontaneity, the edge of random ideas and itching to make plans and follow them through, itching to take the leap into anything based on or around adventure or newness, i've always been a dreamer, i count that fact as one of my greatest assets, the idea of the world and finding my place in it was a challenge that really excited me.......and so i began, at 18 years old, feeling inspired i came up with a plan, i allowed my mind to wander, to search for a path that would take me far and wide, i did some research, i plotted, i planned, i coordinated and soon i was going through the process of applying and being accepted to the brooks institute of photography ........in santa barbara, california. my mother got on board. we went through the process, we bought the tickets, a return for her and a one way for me. i still remember the drive to the airport, the feeling in my stomach of anticipation of excitement and seeing what this new chapter in my life had to offer me.
california was a whirlwind, it was swift, it was exhilarating, it had it's ups and it had it's struggles. this particular adventure taught me the true extent of my practical nature, tested my ability to problem solve, made me realise that i was an innate fixer and also that i could survive on my own. these traits served me well for the duration of my time there and they continue to develop and strengthen as i get older.
i didn't come back from california with the bachelors degree that i had went there to get (i came back and finished my degree here), but i did come back with an experience that i could not have had here in london, i came back with memories that are deeply rooted in my sensory systems, with confidence that i cultivated myself by thrusting myself into an experience that left me with no one to rely on. my desire to take on the world has not wained, in fact, it intensifies on a daily basis. i've had down time because i've not got more than myself to consider, but i've begun plotting again, and this time, i have a partner in crime, because wherever i go, i'm taking my baby with me. i'm trying to be a hummingbird out here.
p.s check out the hummingbird cake recipe below!
432 grams crushed pineapple in juice
130 grams/ 3 small over ripe bananas mashed
3 large eggs
280 grams coconut blossom sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange extract
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
260 mls vegetable oil
80 grams desiccated coconut
2 cups toasted pecans (reserve a handful for sprinkling on top of the cake after frosting)
3/4 tsp salt
465 grams sifted plain flour
130 grams salted butter cubed (straight from the fridge)
280 grams creamed cheese
800 grams powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
in a large mixing bowl, combine the sifted flower, coconut sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground ginger, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon and desiccated coconut, mix well and set aside.
in a measuring jug, combine the oil, whisked eggs, mashed bananas, crushed pineapples and all its juices, mix to combine, then stir into dry ingredients until just combined.
add the almond extract, vanilla extract, orange extract and chopped pecans, stir again until fully incorporated.
divide equally between baking tins, transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 40 mins.
cream cheese frosting-
in a medium mixing bowl beat the cubed butter using a hand mixer for 3 minutes.
gradually addhalf the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time, the butter and sugar mixture should resemble crumble, add a tablespoon of the cream cheese and continue to beat with the hand mixer, once the creamed cheese is combined, add another tablespoon of the remaining powdered sugar, beat and continue alternating between adding the creamed cheese and the powdered sugar until everything incorporated. at this point the frosting should be at a spreadable consistency. add a pinch of salt, the lemon extract and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
once the cake cools, use a spatula to spread the frosting between the layers of cakes as well as the top and sides. finish off by sprinkling chopped toasted pecans on top