Sunday, March 31, 2013

Discovering traditional recipes: Granny Cake (Hummingbird Cake)

Coming from Germany, a lot of the traditional recipes in the USA are new to me. I have already made chess pie and shoofly pie, but there is so much more to discover. So the latest recipe I tried was called Granny Cake or Hummingbird Cake. The recipe was in a magazine called "Living the Country Life" in a series that covered traditional cake recipes. The Facebook page for the magazine is here. I liked the recipe because it was described as traditional, a la church socials, and also included basic ingredients that most people have in their pantry. I do not like to use recipes that call for special ingredients because those recipes mean you go and buy items just for that specific recipe and in this economy, who wants to spend money on an item of limited use.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - shout out to my Kitchenaid Mixer, never fails, no matter how much butter in the dough!
In addition to those two criteria, the recipe also gave me a chance to use my Kitchenaid mixer, which I love because it works like clockwork and makes mixing dough a snap no matter how much butter or how many eggs get added.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Wilton bakeform with finished cake
I also could use my Wilton bakeform that I purchased some time ago with a gift certificate that I had won in an online giveaway. The Wilton bakeform, purchased as Michaels, is called Dimensions Belle Pan and described in more detail here. I loved the bakeform the moment I saw it and have been wanting to try it out for a long time because it just screams Sunday afternoon cake to me. The form work wonderfully. It was a little bit smaller than required by the recipe, but I left the cake longer in the oven to account for the increase in height. Next time, I will save some of the dough and make two smaller cakes on the side. I have two small fluted pans that can handle smaller cakes for 2 people. I bought these pans initially to create small hostess cakes, but have found they work really well if you want to make a regular cake and have leftover dough. The smaller cakes freeze really well and can be used for gifts during the holidays.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - my cake and the example from the magazine.
 I changed the recipe around a little bit because I do not usually have pecans in the house. So I left out the required pecans and added whatever mushy bananas I had and a can of crushed pineapple. I figured as long as the dough is properly mixed, I can adjust the caking time to make sure that cake is baked through. It worked out really well! The recipe is a simple mix of flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, basking soda mixed with bananas, nutmeg and pineapple. I left out the required cloves and pecans because neither of which I had in the pantry. I also do something that I swear by for my pumpkin pie, I freshly ground the nutmeg. I will never use pre-ground nutmeg since it lacks in flavor. I love the flavor of nutmeg and storing the whole seed makes the flavor last longer, plus it is cheaper! The original recipe for the Granny Cake published in Living the Country Life is available online here.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - ready for the Sunday afternoon coffee!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the first slice, smells good with bananas, spices and pineapple!
 So after the relatively quick prep and the baking time, what is the verdict? Even with the modifications, this cake is a winner. I can understand why it is described in Living the Country Life Magazine as an "old-fashioned, church-social-style recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation." The cake is nice and moist and smells of spring or summer with the fruit included in the dough. In addition, the combination of nutmeg and fruit makes for a light version of a spice cookie that can feed a crowd. The ingredients are pantry stables and the total price for the ingredients is relatively cheap. The most expensive items being the fruit. So next time you are looking for a Sunday cake, consider making a Hummingbird Cake. It may be old-fashioned, but the flavor is well worth going back to Granny's recipe book for.

1 comment:

Jen B said...

This looks so so good! I would love to try this!