I've seen recipes for Hummingbird Cake on more than one occasion, and fortunately the pages of my new favorite baking book are graced with one! Although I was little confused... the recipe is called Hummingbird Carrot Cake, and yet recipe made no mention of carrots beyond the title! And so trouble ensued, I could not make a carrot cake without carrots, and therefore I decided to take some creative liberty. Ordinarily, cooking can be freestyle whereas baking is a more exact science and recipes should be respected. I've come to find, however, that what's important is that you keep the base batter true to the recipe's directions and beyond that you should be free to add just about anything you'd like, as long as your ingredients are kept to a reasonable volume.
From what I've observed, Hummingbird cakes tend to be a spin off carrot cake with crushed pineapple and sometimes coconut. So after I was shocked to find the carrot part neglected in this particular version I used it as more of a recommendation list than an actual recipe. The recipe called for basic batter ingredients, with crushed pineapple, pecans, and finely chopped banana. Yum. But I decided to add a good two cups of shredded carrot and some raisins, which I made room for by cutting the pecans and banana in half. The best part of a cake like this is the texture. Not only is it decadently moist, but the carrots, raisins, pineapple, and banana all contribute a different chewiness and the pecans add a fantastic crunch.
TIP! I've seen this numerous times before, but hadn't tried it until now. There's a fantastic way to get a little more chew out of raisins when baking! Raisins are dehydrated grapes, right? So if you rehydrate them a little bit they plump up and have great moisture and texture. I did this with my golden raisins by letting them steep in really hot water for about five minutes, and it was a fantastic idea. You can also heat liquor or other flavor lending liquids to steep dried fruit in for plumping. Raisins plumped in rum are a really good addition to a rich cake! (Or so I hear).
ANOTHER TIP! This one I've seen numerous times and have utilized numerous times! I made blueberry bread a little while back and neglected to add this step because I was in a rush and regretted in later. I mixed my blueberries into my batter, but they all sunk to the bottom! The top was just sweet bread and all the blueberries were hidden in the bottom, not cool. To make sure you're ingredients (in this case, shredded carrots and raisins) stay evenly suspended in your batter, sprinkle them with some flour before mixing them into the batter. If the pieces have a light dusting of flour, they stick to the batter and don't sink!
And so my loaded batter was poured into three cake pans, because two layers just doesn't seem to cut it anymore. But what is cake, no matter how many layers, without a good frosting? Carrot cakes are classically topped with a cream cheese frosting, but I decided to fudge the recipe for this one a little bit too... I added a couple teaspoons of cinnamon to partner with a splash of vanilla extract. I don't think you could really taste the cinnamon, but it added a lovely rustic color to the icing! I dusted the top with ground pecans and placed a couple pecan halves in the center to pretend I know how to decorate :)
ONE LAST TIP! So I made that epic fail chocolate ice cream cake a while ago, right? Well in that mess I discovered something quite delicious. The cake actual cake layers dried out a bit after being frozen, so I decided to "rehydrate" them a little bit by pouring some milk over my frozen slice of cake. What made me decide to do this? I just don't know. But it was genius! I decided to try it with carrot cake and stuck a slice of my Hummingbird Cake in the freezer overnight. EPIC! Frozen cake + milk = delicious. Try it. So good.