Brown Butter Hummingbird Cake

Brown Butter Hummingbird Cake is a super moist, flavorful cake with brown butter, bananas, coconut, and pineapple baked right in.  Top it off with a luscious cream cheese glaze, toasted pecans and coconut flakes for the best hummingbird cake ever.

flavor the moments

I spent this past week soaking up the Scottsdale, Arizona sun with my family, and it was heavenly.  What I loved about it was that it was all about relaxation…hanging poolside, watching the kids swim, catching movies, hiking, and eating.  Yes, lots of eating.  I couldn’t get enough pulled pork and Mexican food in AZ — southwestern food is one of my major weaknesses.  Now that I’m back, it’s more like spending time gym-side than poolside. 😉  I hit my TRX class bright and early today, and it was such an intense class.  It left me feeling really good, because the hiking wasn’t enough considering I was eating vacation-style for 5 days.

flavor the moments

Now that I’m back to my workout regiment, I can afford to eat this Brown Butter Hummingbird Cake!  See how that works…eat what you want on vacation, come home, exercise once, and you get to eat cake like you’re on vacation again. 🙂   Truthfully, I’ve really been craving hummingbird cake lately, and I needed to do something about it.  One of the most popular recipes on my blog are my Healthier Hummingbird Muffins, and for good reason.  They’re moist and delicious, and you wouldn’t know they’re healthy.

If you’re not familiar with hummingbird cake, it’s a cake that originated in the south.  I stumbled upon it in one of my cookbooks a few years ago, and was intrigued by the sound of that cake.  It sounded like carrot cake, but no carrots — it’s packed with bananas, crushed pineapple, and coconut.  The cream cheese icing and pecans are a big hit with me, so I knew I’d love the cake.  Funny thing is, I never tried the cake before I went and made healthy muffin version.  That’s where this cake comes in. 🙂

flavor the moments

I researched this cake all over the internet, and realized I just wanted to do a cake that wasn’t a sky high triple layer cake, or one that was laden with tons of sugar and oil.  I based this cake off of my muffin recipe, and it came out perfectly.  The biggest change to the recipe?  I decided to liven it up with brown butter, because it is a cake, and I thought that nutty, brown butter flavor would be fantastic with the banana, pineapple, and coconut.  And guess what?  It was fantastic. 🙂

When baking with brown butter, it’s important to brown the butter until the milk solids are golden brown, and the butter has a nutty aroma.  It’s best to brown butter in a stainless steel pan so you can really see the color of the butter.

flavor the moments

Once the butter is brown, put the pan of butter in an ice bath and let stand until the edges of the butter have solidified.  Scoop it out into a mixing bowl with a rubber scraper, add the sugars, and you’re ready to cream the butter and sugar.  The rest of the recipe is very straightforward.  This is one easy cake.

This cake is incredibly moist, as I mentioned, due to all the banana, pineapple, and brown butter.  I also added Greek yogurt to the batter which helps this cake get even more moist.  I used brown sugar for flavor and added moisture as well, so this cake is as far away from dry as it gets. 😉  Top it with this super simple, luscious cream cheese glaze, and it’s perfection.

This cake is one of those cakes that you can eat for dessert or breakfast…I mean, it has tons of fruit and yogurt in it, so it makes perfect sense to me.  What is coffee cake besides a cake that tastes great with coffee?  This one does.  I know what I’m having for breakfast, what about you? 🙂

flavor the moments

Brown Butter Hummingbird Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Brown Butter Hummingbird Cake is a super moist, flavorful cake with brown butter, bananas, coconut, and pineapple baked right in. Top it off with a luscious cream cheese glaze, toasted pecans and coconut flakes for the best hummingbird cake ever.
Serves: About 16 servings
For the cake:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large)
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (I used Chobani 0%), room temperature
  • ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
  • 4 ounces ⅓ less fat Neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons milk (I used non-fat)
  • Toasted pecans and coconut flakes, for garnish (optional)
Prepare the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a bundt pan generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare an ice bath. In a small, stainless steel pot, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Increase the heat to medium and cook the butter until the milk solids turn golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma. Place in the ice bath to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place the brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. When the butter has solidified around the edges and is no longer hot, remove from the pan with a rubber scraper and place in the bowl with the sugars. Beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated. Add the banana, Greek yogurt, pineapple, coconut, and vanilla, and beat on low until combined. Fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Pour into the prepared bundt pan and spread as evenly as possible. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around the edges and center of the cake carefully, and invert on the wire rack to cool completely out of the pan.
Prepare the glaze:
  1. Beat the cream cheese on medium high until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until smooth and fluffy, 2 more minutes. Beat in the vanilla and milk on low speed. Check the consistency -- the glaze should pour easily from a spoon. Use more milk if the glaze is not thin enough to pour, or add more powdered sugar if you'd like it to be thicker.
  2. Place the cooled cake on a serving plate. Pour or spoon the glaze over the top carefully. Top with toasted, chopped pecans and coconut flakes. Enjoy!
Total time above includes 30 minute cooling time for the cake.

To toast pecans, place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, until fragrant.

To toast coconut flakes, place in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes, keeping a close eye on them as they burn quickly.

Recipe adapted from Flavor the Moments' Healthier Hummingbird Muffins.