One Bowl Hummingbird Cake Bars

Hummingbird Cake Bars

One Bowl Hummingbird Cake Bars ~ these little bars have all the bells and whistles of the classic Southern hummingbird layer cake, but in a snack-able bar form.

One Bowl Hummingbird Cake Bars 2

Who could resist something called a hummingbird cake?  I think it conjures up lazy Southern afternoons, porch swings, and sweet tea.  It sounds like something that’s been around since the rebel yell, but in truth, it was a reader’s recipe that debuted in a 1978 issue of Southern Living.   The fact that it’s become a household word since then is a testament to how wonderful it is.

The cake is rich with crushed pineapple, ripe bananas, and walnuts.  And a killer cream cheese frosting.  Mine has a couple of secret ingredients thrown into the mix, but we’ll get to them later.

Hummingbird Cake Bars 1

I’ve been in the mood for Hummingbird cake for a while now but I’m not a big layer cake kind of gal.  That’s how you usually see it, sometimes with 3 or 4 layers.  These little bars suit me much better, and as a bonus we can take these on the plane with us today.  We’re heading out to Massachusetts for Molly’s graduation. I’m full of conflicting emotions, and I’m not a happy flyer, so I’ll need to distract myself on the plane.  A crisp new copy of Bon Appetit, my spa socks, and a couple of these luscious bars in tupperware and I’ll feel more relaxed.  Maybe we’ll even have an empty seat next to us… I can dream, can’t I?

Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t know what I love most about these…the moist banana cake, the pineapple…the walnuts.  Who am I kidding, I love the frosting best.  Nothing beats cream cheese frosting.  And what’s nice about these bars is that the frosting and the cake get equal billing.  That means that although these bars are small, they pack a wallop.  But you’re probably wondering about those secret ingredients…ok, I added coconut, and a little shot of Bourbon.  I tinkered with the original 1978 recipe, which you can see  here.

One Bowl Hummingbird Cake Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, don't drain
  • 1 ripe banana, well mashed
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
    Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 5 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer and toss to combine. (You can do this by hand, too.) Mix in the egg, oil,and Bourbon.
  3. Blend in the pineapple, mashed banana, coconut,and nuts. Mix just enough to combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Spread the batter in a 71/2 x 11 1/2 greased brownie pan and bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out without wet batter clinging to it. (Moist crumbs are ok.)
  5. Cool the cake before frosting.
  6. To make frosting, mix the butter with the cream cheese and then gradually beat in the sugar until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. Blend in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add more sugar if the frosting is too thin.
  7. Spread on the cooled cake, and top with more finely chopped walnuts. Store in the refrigerator.
https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/hummingbird-bars/

Hummingbird Cake Bars

Speaking of hummingbirds, my sister has had a nest on a spindly bougainvillaea  branch right outside her bedroom window for the past few weeks.  She watched the mother build it bit by bit, wiggling her little butt around to form the hollow as she went,  carving out the perfect customized shape.  She laid her first egg on Mother’s Day.  No kidding.  And the second one came soon after, and now the babies are getting too big to fit in the miniscule nest.  They have to take turns sitting on the edge.  She did some research and found out that mother hummingbirds are so diligent that they sometimes have two nests going at one time, and they shuttle back and forth between them.  Eventually the babies get too big for the nest and the biggest one basically falls out and is forced to fly, and that’s his coming of age.  The other one gets a few more days of luxury and then, that’s it, he disappears.  We’ve both been glued to the window watching the whole thing.  My sister has her oldest son going off to college later this summer, and my youngest is graduating.   Pretty heavy symbolism, I know.

Hummingbird Cake Bars | The View from Great Island

I’m glad I have these bars to take my mind off it all.

Hummingbird Cake Bars

 

26 Comments

  • Reply
    julie
    November 1, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Any replacement if you just don’t have ripe bananas or bananas at all?

  • Reply
    Carol
    March 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Would this same recipe work with muffins (instead of bars)? Would the baking time change or ingredient quantity change?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      I think you could probably bake the batter in a muffin tin, Carol, but I’m not sure how long it would take, I would watch them carefully and when they have risen, check them with a toothpick, on the early side.

  • Reply
    teresa
    October 18, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I have made cream cheese frosting for years but never put lemon juice in it. Other than flavor is there something it does to the frosting?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

      It’s just there for flavor, Teresa!

  • Reply
    Susan
    June 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve never made a hummingbird cake but this would be a great way to started! It looks so good. Good luck on your flight!

  • Reply
    grace
    June 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    LOVE hummingbird cake but i’ve never tried to make bars! brilliant and beautiful, sue!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Thanks Grace!

  • Reply
    Friday Faves - Jody Robbins | Travels with Baggage
    June 6, 2014 at 12:17 am

    […] One bowl hummingbird bars. […]

  • Reply
    cheri
    June 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Love recipes with a story, looks and sounds delicious Sue!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    June 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Oh Sue – this looks wonderful. I’ve always wanted to bake this cake, but then I would have to eat it all! Cream cheese icing is the bomb!!! Love the bourbon and pineapple additions. Have a wonderful trip and congratulations to you and Molly!!!

  • Reply
    Monica
    June 4, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    You are so right; the name of this cake alone is such a winner. I’ve never had it and I’d love to try it this way. It’s so smart to make it in the simpler bar form. The layer versions always look really daunting and, dare I say, somewhat excessive. : ) Happy travels!

  • Reply
    Shari Kelley
    June 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I have heard of hummingbird cake, but never knew what it was. It sounds wonderful, especially with your 2 secret ingredients! I also love the ratio of cake to frosting. Perfect for a frosting lover like me! We have a hummingbird feeder above the porch at our cabin and have so much fun watching the hummingbirds. They are so cute! I am saving this recipe to make soon, maybe to eat at our cabin this summer while watching hummingbirds!:)

  • Reply
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane
    June 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t think we have hummingbirds in the UK, so that sounds amazing to watch that little hummingbird ‘soap opera’ going on outside your sister’s window. How precious! And I love the way you’ve adapted your recipe to make bars instead of a cake. :-)

  • Reply
    Abbe@This is How I Cook
    June 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    We have lots of hummingbirds that feed, but no nests. Congratulations on Molly. For me it was very bittersweet. My two graduated two years ago and though it is still fun to see their progressions I really miss the cycles of college life. Eating these delicious bars though might make everything go down better! Have fun, Sue!

  • Reply
    Mid
    June 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

    This just sounds delightful, and I’m going to try it… but! I LOVE Hummingbirds and the last addition to your post was sooo exciting to read! We live on an 85 acre farm, so trying to find a Hummingbird nest is like… well, the proverbial needle in a haystack. :( I so want to find one some day. I love my Hummers, and have some fantastic pictures! Can’t wait to make this cake… Have a good flight and wonderful time with family :)

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks Mid — I would have shared some of my sister’s pictures, but they’re all blurry!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    June 4, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Anything you can substitute for the bourbon? It’s not something I have in my house. They look delicious.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

      You don’t need to add the bourbon at all, you can add a little vanilla, if you want, or nothing.

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Interesting facts about hummingbirds. Never knew two nests were in play… nor that the babies outgrew their nest!
    Did I miss the daily winners for popsicle week? Perhaps they were individually notified.
    Anyway, Happy flight… and Happy graduation to Molly.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Oh Kate I posted them on the sidebar but then took it down after a couple of days thinking people wouldn’t want to look at it there for too long!

  • Reply
    Donna
    June 4, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Hi, Sue.
    You said in the narrative that you added coconut but I don’t see it in the recipe. It sounds like a good addition. How much did/would you add?

    • Reply
      Karen
      June 4, 2014 at 9:54 am

      I noticed, too, that there is no coconut listed. I would guess around 1/2 cup, and maybe toasted first. Sue, do you have an answer for us?

      • Reply
        Sue
        June 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

        Thanks, I fixed it. Thank goodness for in flight wifi!

        • Reply
          Donna
          June 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

          Thanks, Sue. Sometimes technology is a good thing! LOL

  • Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    June 4, 2014 at 6:44 am

    It’s fun to decorate a layer cake, but I prefer to have just one layer of frosting, so this is the perfect way for me to have hummingbird cake. I never make three-layer cakes, that is just waaaay too much frosting for me. Lovely!

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