I’ve been alive and well; very well in fact. A vacation back home can do so much to you. It felt surreal to unpack and pack again in your own home, where you spent years together building memories. I really didn’t want to come back. But like a wise friend once put it – life is not always a rosy picture.
I missed baking though, so much! I guess I compensated by eating. I might’ve gained at least a few pounds. But I’m not guilting – I ate everything I wanted to eat and then I had the recurring epiphany as always: nothing quite makes me as happy as food.
The first pizza I ever ate was homemade. My mom made pizzas with those store-bought pizza bases. She topped them with plenty of vegetables and processed cheese. Yeah, the Italians would’ve rolled in their graves but I wasn’t complaining. They were delicious, just because my mom made them.
When I was home this time, I wanted to give something back to her. I almost made pizzas but as fate would have it the power went out for nearly 4 hours. I had beautiful buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and tomato paste, but I never got around to making them.
I’m back now, a few pounds heavier, struggling to get into a routine. It’s just that when I’ve had such a good time, with people around me all the time, I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was back. Television and books can only do so much. But a piece of cake does a lot more.
So here it is, a classic Hawaiian Hummingbird cake. It has many good things going for it – walnuts, pineapple, banana, coconut, cream cheese, cinnamon you name it, and it’s all there.
For the cake
- 195 g (1.5 cups) flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup odourless vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 large banana or 2 small, mashed
- ½ tin pineapple, drained and chopped
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup grated coconut
For cream cheese frosting
- 225 g cream cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 113 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 450 g icing sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Butter and line two 7” round cake tins. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
- In another bowl, using an electric beater, beat oil, vanilla and sugar until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat further. Beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
- Mix banana, coconut, pineapple pieces and nuts. Add to the egg mixture. Sift in the flour mixture. Fold until combined.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared tins.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack.
- For the frosting, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add butter and beat until combined.
- Reduce speed and beat in the icing sugar gradually, half a cup at a time. Beat until fluffy and smooth, until the frosting is not grainy anymore.
- To assemble, place one layer of cake on a cake stand. Plop a big dollop of frosting, about 1 cup. Spread it evenly and place the other layer of cake on top. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.
- The cake can be refrigerated for 3 days. Serve at room temperature.