This amazing recipe for Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake is one you'll want to make again and again! A dense, moist, fruit-infused cake is topped with tangy cream cheese icing and sprinkled with toasted walnuts in a gluten-free take on a classic recipe.
Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake Recipe
A few years ago I took a hummingbird cake to a neighbor's potluck and it vanished within minutes. I've been meaning to make another and wanted to translate it into being gluten-free. I'm happy to report that I have achieved the perfect gluten-free hummingbird cake!
This is the cake of my dreams, packed with juicy crushed pineapple and sweet bananas, and filled and frosted with a luscious cream cheese buttercream. The traditional version of hummingbird cake calls for toasted pecans but I used walnuts; pecans would be lovely here too. It's a stunner of a cake, with fluffy layers sandwiching that impossible-to-resist frosting I dream about.
Why You'll Love This Recipe for Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake
This cake received rave reviews from everyone who tried it, and I hope you'll feel the same! Here are some of my favorite aspects of this cake:
- The flavor. How to describe the flavor? It's reminiscent of carrot cake but the cake gets its sweetness from mashed bananas and pineapples with not a carrot in sight. A bit of cinnamon and allspice add a lovely warm undertone.
- Simple gluten-free flour mix. Just two naturally gluten-free flours, oat and almond flour, make up the flour base for the hummingbird cake. This creates a beautifully dense yet fluffy crumb that is not at all crumbly or dry. More about gluten-free flours.
- Luscious buttercream frosting. Well, what can I say, I love a cream cheese frosting. This one is a wonderful mix of butter and cream cheese with just enough powdered sugar to add sweetness without being too much.
What is Hummingbird Cake?
Hummingbird cake is a banana-pineapple spice cake that originated in Jamaica and which subsequently became a popular dessert in the southern United States. It is characterized by banana and pineapple in the batter, plus pecans and the other familiar baking ingredients (I swapped in walnuts for the pecans and made this a gluten-free hummingbird cake).
Why a hummingbird cake? I like to think it earned its name because it's so sweet - the combination of very ripe bananas and pineapple plus a good amount of sugar make this a sweet, really irresistible cake. But Wikipedia tells us the name comes from Jamaica's national bird, the scissors-tail hummingbird.
What You'll Need to Make Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake
Be sure to check the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts and instructions.
- Walnuts: You could also use pecans.
- Oat Flour: Use gluten-free oat flour if sensitive.
- Almond Flour: Use finely ground almond flour rather than almond meal.
- Baking Soda
- Ground Spices: Cinnamon and allspice
- Salt: I use fine sea salt in this recipe.
- Bananas: Use very ripe bananas.
- Crushed Pineapple: The easiest way to do this is to use a can of crushed pineapple! Get the kind that is packed in its own juice.
- Eggs: Large eggs.
- Coconut Oil: You can substitute a neutral olive oil or vegetable oil for the coconut oil.
- Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar is fine here, or you can use coconut sugar.
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Butter: Use unsalted butter.
- Cream Cheese
- Powdered Sugar
- Milk: You can use whole or 2% milk.
How to Make Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake
Make the Cake
- Prepare the pans and oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch pans and line them with parchment paper rounds.
- Combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour, almond flour baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients and combine. Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in 1 cup of the walnuts.
- Bake the cake. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, place in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean. Check at 30 minutes and bake a little longer if needed.
- Cool the cake. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
- Make the frosting. In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, whip together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and milk, then taste for sweetness. Add more sugar and milk as needed.
- Finish the cake. Use the frosting to fill and frost the cake. Sprinkle the remaining toasted walnuts over the top of the cake.
Tips for Success
This is not a difficult cake to make, but I have a few tips that will help it turn out perfectly each time:
- Use very ripe bananas. The riper the bananas, the more sweetness they'll give to the cake!
- Let the batter rest while the oven heats. Oat flour benefits from being given a bit of time to absorb the liquid in the batter. So make the batter, put it in the pans, and let it rest while the oven preheats to 350°F (You can skip this step if you're in a hurry and the cake will still turn out well.)
- Try reducing the sugar. You could probably get away with using just 1 cup of sugar total in this cake. As mentioned the sweeter the bananas, the sweeter the cake. So if you want to cut down on the sugar use very ripe bananas and 1 cup of sugar instead of 1 ½ cups total sugar.
- Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature before using. This is so important to make a very smooth and fluffy buttercream!
- Sift the powdered sugar. Again - this will help ensure a smooth buttercream. Sift the powdered sugar into the frosting mixture to eliminate any lumps.
It's not hard to make ingredient substitutions! Here's how to do it:
- For the oat flour - Substitute sorghum flour.
- For the almond flour - Swap tiger nut flour or oat flour.
- To make refined sugar-free - Use coconut sugar for the total sugar in the recipe (1 ½ cups).
- To make dairy-free - The cake is naturally dairy-free, but to make the frosting dairy-free, substitute your favorite non-dairy butter and cream cheese of your choice.
Store leftover hummingbird cake, well-covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days. It's great served cold or at room temperature!
Gluten-Free Hummingbird Cake
- 1 ½ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 2 ½ cups/240 grams gluten-free oat flour
- 1 ¼ cup/375 grams almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups mashed banana, about 4 medium-small bananas very ripe
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
- 3 large eggs
- ⅔ cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ½-2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
Make the Cake
- In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour, almond flour baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together.
- Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in 1 cup of the walnuts.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, place in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean. Check at 30 minutes and bake a little longer if needed.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
- Now make the frosting. In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, whip together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and milk, then taste for sweetness. Add more sugar and milk as needed.
- Use the frosting to fill and frost the cake. Sprinkle the remaining toasted walnuts over the top of the cake.
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