Hummingbird Bread

This recipe spins the classic, Southern cake comprised of pineapple, banana, pecans and spices into a Hummingbird Bread that’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy for breakfast. Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

Who here has heard of Hummingbird Cake? If you have, I hope you are as enlightened as I was when I learned what I am about to tell you. If you haven’t, prepare to have your mind-blown. You see, I’ve known about Hummingbird Cake for quite a while now (I’ve never been one to shy away from overtly claiming my love of carbs and all things that fall under the baked goods category, see Exhibits A and B), yet it wasn’t until I was preparing this recipe for Hummingbird Bread that I learned about the dessert’s origins. Yes folks, you read that correctly, I’ve simply turned a classic cake into loaf form so it can be reasonably acceptable to ingest as the most important meal of the day –> Breakfast!

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

But back to the fun little nuggets of history I discovered during my recipe research:

  • It is believed that this cake originated in the Caribbean (specifically, Jamaica) which seems reasonable since the main ingredients are pineapple, banana and spices! Where else do we find these things in such abundance?
  • The cake actually used to be called a “Doctor bird cake,” named after a type of Jamaican hummingbird called the red-billed Streamertail whose actions of sticking its long beak into the flowers were deemed similar to a doctor inspecting a patient.
  • The recipe made its way to the U.S. via press kits that the Jamaican tourist board created to attract visitors to the country.

Pretty cool, huh? You know what’s even cooler? Today I’m showing you how to make Hummingbird BREAD so you don’t even have to wait until dessert to enjoy this fruity, moist, spiced cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. IMHO, something with this much fruit and protein from the nuts and cream cheese should certainly be acceptable to ingest prior to noon with a warm mug of coffee in our hands.

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

So, confession. This recipe took me THREE tries before I was able to perfect it. Yes, that’s right. The first couple of times I tried to make Hummingbird Bread, I had ambitions of running a cream cheese swirl through the middle of the loaf and topping it with a pecan crumble. Let’s just say that (a) my batter to loaf pan size ratio was WAY off (thank goodness I put a jelly roll pan underneath to catch any drips…dodged an oven fire with that one!) and (b) my “cream cheese swirl” tasted delicious but was too heavy (and dense) to sit correctly between the layers of batter. I’d end up with an overly-browned top of the loaf with a gooey, undone center. #foodbloggerproblems

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

I finally figured out that the best solution was to keep the Hummingbird Bread as true to form as possible (while still holding on to my creative idea to turn this cake into a bread), and so (after realizing how good the “cream cheese swirl” tasted on its own without even being cooked) I decided to frost the loaf with the sugary, melt-in-your-mouth, creamy cream cheese mixture rather than try to hide it inside. It made for a much more structurally stable loaf AND I must say it made it much more photogenic 😉

Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

I would like to point out, though, that I did not waste ANY of those failed loaves. A quick turn in the refrigerator firmed up the cream cheese swirl loaves enough so that, although not structurally stable, they are definitely, absolutely, completely edible. One down and I’ve got two more loaves to go (falling apart at the seams.) They’re just sitting in the refrigerator waiting for me on the next night I’m up until the wee hours blogging or cleaning because I haven’t ventured out of the kitchen for the past three weekends and have neglected every other part of the house and have my sister coming to visit this weekend. Oh, sorry, just me?

Well, if you’d like to come over and help me clean my house, I’d be more than happy to pay you in Hummingbird Bread…and good company?

Hummingbird Bread
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
Spinning the classic, Southern cake comprised of pineapple, banana, pecans and spices into a bread that's perfectly acceptable to enjoy for breakfast.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking, bananas, bread, breakfast, dessert, pineapple, snacks
Servings: 8 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
For the bread:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas about 2 medium bananas
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans toasted
For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
For topping:
  • Additional ½ cup chopped pecans toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Begin by making the batter. Combine eggs, sugar, canola oil, banana and pineapple in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir until combined. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into loaf pan and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If top begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil while the bread finished baking.
  3. As the bread is getting towards the end of its baking time, make the cream cheese frosting. Using an electric mixer, combine all frosting ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Set aside until bread is done baking and has cooled most of the way. Do not refrigerate, because it will make the frosting too hard to spread onto the bread.
  4. Once bread has cooled, remove from pan. Spread frosting over top and sprinkle with additional ½ cup of toasted pecans and serve. Refrigerate frosted loaf if not eating the whole thing right away.


Hummingbird Bread | CaliGirl Cooking

Holdin’ it together like a champ!

18 thoughts on “Hummingbird Bread

  1. Hi! This recipe looks wonderful & that loaf turned out really well! Just wondering whether the oil content is too much for this recipe since it only yields 1 loaf? 1 cup seems quite a lot! Does the bread come out oily? Is it possible to reduce the oil content and perhaps replace it with more bananas instead?

    1. Hi Geraldine! It is quite a bit of oil but that’s what give it a lot of it’s moistness. You can usually replace oil with half the amount of bananas (so for this recipe you would add an additional 1/2 cup of mashed banana in lieu of the canola oil)…I haven’t personally tried it but you could certainly give it a shot! If that works, let me know, I’m all for making baked goods healthier when we can!

      1. Oh great! I will give that a shot then 😉 Also, does the cake slices hold together? I’ve had previous experience of such dense loaf cakes loaded with fruits being really crumbly when sliced and I’m concern with this as well as I’m planning to bake it for an occasion!

        1. I wouldn’t say this is THE most dense quick bread I’ve ever made, but I don’t think it’s especially crumbly. If you’re concerned about the ease of slicing, you may want to pop the finished loaf in the refrigerator for a bit before serving. This will help it hold together a little better. Good luck!

  2. With all due respect, I had a really trying afternoon making this recipe. I ended up leaving it in the oven after I turned the heat off in an attempt to get the middle to bake.
    First, I would suggest to decrease the oil to 1/2 cup and use three ripe bananas. Also, I would decrease the sugar to 1 cup, and add 1/2 cup sweetened coconut. The recipe for the frosting makes way too much. Could probably just make a nice glaze. It is sitting on the counter waiting for dessert. Hopefully, it will be yummy.

  3. I make this in mini loaves, as there’s just 2 of us. But, we share with neighbors. One of them told my husband that he would fight him for the bread, lol.

    1. Linda, I love the mini loaf idea! That’s so great that you share them with your neighbors. I bet you’re their favorite people on the block!

  4. does this loaf HAVE to be frosted , can it just stay as a loaf as in Banana bread? Im in Phoenix and would ship to Austin …wondering if it would actually stay in tact

    1. Hi Micheline! It absolutely does NOT have to be frosted. It should hold up just fine being shipped, especially if packed properly (snugly, with a little padding). You could also try shipping it frozen to keep it even sturdier!

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