Hummingbird Sheet Cake

An easier spin on the classic fruity Southern layer cake

Photo: THE WAY HOME / HarperCollins Publishers

“If you ask me, when it comes to authentic Southern food, cakes and pies are one of those areas where the rubber meets the road,” writes the South Carolina chef Kardea Brown in her new cookbook, The Way Home: A Celebration of Sea Islands Food and Family with over 100 Recipes. Believe it or not, I didn’t bake much at all until I was grown…In my determination to truly train myself in the cooking game, ya girl discovered desserts on her own.” Here, she shares an easier spin on a classic Southern cake—hummingbird cake made in a sheet pan rather than stacked in layers.


  • Hummingbird Sheet Cake (Yield: 12 servings)

  • For the Cake

    • Nonstick cooking spray

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

    • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon

    • 1 tsp. baking soda

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg

    • 2 cups granulated sugar

    • 1½ cups canola oil

    • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 3 large eggs

    • 3 very ripe large bananas, mashed (1½ to 2 cups)

    • 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple

    • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

  • For the Frosting

    • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

    • ¼ tsp. kosher salt

    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

    • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 1 to 2 tbsp. heavy cream, as needed

    • Dried pineapple rings, for garnish (optional)

    • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans, for garnish (optional)


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch metal pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust the inside lightly with flour, knocking the excess out.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a separate medium bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, oil, coconut, vanilla, eggs, banana, and pineapple. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the pecans. Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or the cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer from the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Once completely cooled, level the top using a serrated knife.

  3. Make the frosting: Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and salt on high speed for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the confectioners’ sugar in three batches until combined. Beat in the vanilla until combined. If the frosting is too stiff, beat in the heavy cream, as needed.

  4. Spread the frosting over the cake and decorate with the pineapple rings and pecans, if using. Cut into 12 equal pieces and serve.

Excerpted from THE WAY HOME by Kardea Brown and reprinted with permission from Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2022.