There is just something wonderful about baking in a swimsuit and beach cover up. It feels light and carefree. It means at any moment, in bare feet, I could pop back out into the sunshine for a walk, a swim, a anything really.
This is how I found myself attired while baking for my Mom’s birthday this year as we were in Hawaii for the occasion. My parents go every year for a month and this year my sister, our husbands and I decided to join them for a week of true holiday time. We lounged, played games, read books, played in the waves, sailed the Napali coast, walked on the cliffs, watched the turtles ride the surf, and delighted in fresh ahi, opah, mahi mahi and ono and finished it off daily with a macadamia nut doused in dark chocolate.
Wonderful as this is in its simple tastiness, we needed to step it up from the macadamia nut for the birthday girl. A woman who has made an ice cream cake from scratch to satiate my birthday love for the DQ minus the badness; and who painstakingly created a Raggedy Ann cake only to have my one year old sister laugh and scrape her pudgy little hands through Ann’s hair, eyes and mouth deserves a cake baked just with her in mind.
She also deserves this because she is ‘that Mom’. You know the one… came on every field trip, made us lunch so we could eat at home every day, sewed piles of tulle and chiffon for a flurry of dance costumes, painted a flower girl mural on my wall when I decided I was too “creative” for plain ordinary mono-tone paint, rolled tp into tiny rolls so we could pack it in a crevice of our backpacks when leaving for months to wander the globe, stopped by on the sly to plant flowers in my struggling garden and left before I saw her, and basically took joy in all the things that brought her children joy. She is ‘that mom,’ the rock star of moms, the one who soared at all things mom related. She is my mom, my mither and I love her very much.
So, I decided to make her a Hummingbird Cake. This first popped out to me while devouring foodgawker because of her love for birds. She loves to watch them whether through binoculars, out the window or soaring above the sea and whenever she sees one says, “look Beth, birdies” with the sort of delight a kid has about lollipops. So, that bird-love got me to click on it. Then, when I saw it was made from the sorts of things that grow locally on Kauaii, I was sold: pineapples and bananas baked into a cake flavoured with cinnamon, what a marvelous recipe.
And since it is covered in a plain white cream cheese icing, I could pretty it up for her special candle-wish moment with plumeria. They grow everywhere on the island including just outside our window, so I found the prettiest ones and plopped them onto her cake as she also loves flowers. Basically, she loves all God’s creatures great and small – whales to butterflies (well, except spiders and creepy things, but even those she admits have mothers who love them).
Happy Birthday Mom.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
heaping half cup fresh chopped pineapple (cut this really tiny)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 chopped bananas, again make them tiny
Prepare two round 8″ pans by greasing the sides with butter and flour, cut parchment to fit the bottom and also butter and flour this. Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, soda and salt. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. Then add the pineapple, pecans and banana – just mix enough to combine and then divide batter into the two prepped pans. Bake for 23-27 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Icing
1 x 8 oz package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cream the cream cheese and butter together (you can use a stand mixer with a paddle or a fork, which is all I had). Add the sugar and cream together until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and stir until combined. If this becomes too runny, place in the fridge until the proper consistency for spreading.
Place one cake on the serving platter, cover in icing. Sandwich with second cake and cover the cake with a thin crumb coat. Place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes. Use remainder of icing to cover the cake. You can decorate this cake with extra chopped pecans, Martha’s pineapple flowers or just plain flowers you find outside.