Hummingbirds & Butterscotch, odd-couple perfection.

It is hot outside. The kind of unbearably hot day where the city and it’s inhabitants literally seem to be melting all around me.

Now usually record-breaking temps are no cause to turn on the oven, but I have bananas that are ripening at break-neck speed in our hothouse kitchen. And I cannot bear to throw away food. Unless it is moldy, and even then it makes me sad.

So, what to do?

Sure banana pancakes would be easy……but that bores me.

Perhaps continue to experiment with banana oat bread recipe…..but that bores me.

Then those little grey cells get to working and remember something called hummingbird cake. I am not entirely sure what it is, but I am sure that it contains bananas. I quickly set about discovering exactly what makes up hummingbird cake and where it originated.

This cake is indigenous to the island of Jamaica and was named after the island’s national bird (the hummingbird).  It is also referred to as the Doctor Bird cake (Doctor Bird is another name for the island’s national bird). The cake made it’s way to the South and became quite popular after a 1970s Southern Living recipe.

The cake is made with bananas, pineapples, spices, vanilla and pecans. And often accompanied by cream cheese frosting.

This got me thinking, as cream cheese frosting has never been a favorite of mine, what other flavor might compliment this delightful concoction of fresh flavors?

Coconut might be nice…..but sometimes coconut frosting with toasted coconut can overwhelm a cake. And I wanted the hummingbird to be the STAR!

As it would happen, as I was researching and developing on paper this recipe, I stared off in thought at my bookshelf. Now this is not an occurrence that is rare. Books are a huge part of my life and my apartment. But this day I happened to rest my wandering gaze on To Kill A Mockingbird. You may be thinking to yourself, oh Southern, got it. And I can see how that thinking makes sense, but my thinking is a little more train-of-thoughty, with a side of ramble.

So it went something like this…..To Kill A Mockingbird, oh great book. Loved reading that in school. I should read it again sometime. Hmm, what other books haven’t I read for a while? Ohhh, Deenie. Oh, Little Women. I should plan to read that around Christmas, all snuggled up with some cocoa.

Then, that one little thought linking food to story, created a detour to a time in 5th grade when our teacher was reading us Maniac Magee. To bring us more into the story she also bought us all butterscotch krimpets to eat while listening. Now, I can’t tell you anything about Maniac Magee except that the main character loved butterscotch krimpets, but I can attest to the quiet love affair I have had with butterscotch most of my life.

I find butterscotch to be overlooked by most, in favor of caramel. Each has their place in the ethos of my childhood and in my life in general, but on any given day butterscotch is king. On an ice cream sundae, I would always choose butterscotch. Hard candy choice at my grandmother’s house…right again! Butterscotch! Again and again it has delightfully insinuated itself into my heart and soul and palette.

So with this windy train of thought going, I set about creating some hummingbird whoopie pies with…..wait for it…….BUTTERSCOTCH FROSTING. Creamy and dreamy, complimentary of the buttery-ness of the bananas and vanilla in the cake. I also decided to add toasted coconut to the hummingbird for more flavory goodness. This of course is a preference which you can omit if not your thing!


For the Cakes:

2 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Flour (found in first earlier post)

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Tsp. Xanthan Gum

2 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg

3/4 Cup Earth Balance (I use the Soy Free variety)

2 Cups Coconut Sugar

2 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Powder (or gf vanilla extract)

2 Large Eggs

1 – 20 0z. Can of Crushed Pineapple in juice (juice drained)

4 Ripened Bananas, mashed

1 Cup Coconut

1/2 Cup Cashew Milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place shredded coconut on a cookie tray lined with foil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just browning.


Remove and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the Earth Balance, Coconut Sugar and Vanilla, until fluffy.

Add the 2 eggs, one at a time. Mix just to combine.

Add the Cashew Milk, mix for a few seconds to combine.

Add the Pineapple, mashed Banana’s and toasted Coconut. Mix once again to just combine.

Add the dry ingredients (that were set aside), in 3rds, combining well after each addition.

Batter will be slightly sticky but creamy.


Scoop the mixture into a whoopie pie pan that has been greased or buttered. Fill each section about 3/4 of the way. Do not overfill.

Bake for 10-12 mins, until springy to the touch.

Allow the cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the pan.


For the Butterscotch Frosting

1 Cup Spectrum Shortening

1/2 Cup Earth Balance (the Soy-Free kind)

3 – 4 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp. GF Vanilla Extract

3 Tsp. Butterscotch Extract

2 Tblsp. Cashew Milk

Cream the Shortening and the Earth Balance together.

Add the Powdered Sugar, one cup at time.

Add the Vanilla and Butterscotch extracts.

If consistency is a little too sticky or stiff, add one tablespoon at a time of the milk.

Spread on cooled cakes.