If you've never heard of Hummingbird Cake, don't worry I hadn't either. The best way to describe one is a fusion between a banana and carrot cake (minus the carrots). Hummingbird cake is almost always frosted with cream cheese icing and flavored with pineapple bits, cinnamon/nutmeg, bananas, and pecans. Win-win all around. Add 4 eggs and we're talkin' flavor city.
This trifle was prepared especially for my Dad's birthday. This was the first time I had been home in nearly 6 years to celebrate the occasion, so something massive was in order. And since trifle's and I are BFF's these days, I figured my Dad would probably love them too.
Just a bit about trifle's if you've never made one. First, a trifle is almost always fool-proof. Anyone can make a trifle look good, even if you are a hot mess in the kitchen. Just pick a base (a cake or brownie), pick a filling (pudding, cool whip, frosting, whipped cream) and then layer in between a crunchy texture (candy, nuts, cookies). As long as your layers are somewhat even, your trifle will be just dandy, promise.
And since frosting a cake is my least favorite task, I tend to make trifles instead whenever I can. In my opinion trifles pack WAY more flavor and texture than any ole' ho-hum cake. You can literally layer-in any cookie, candy, fruit, chopped nut, ANYTHING! Seriously the combinations are endless. It's a great way to get creative during the holidays too...for example, you can use my Oh-Ho-Ho Now that's a Christmas Trifle recipe for ANY holiday, just use different food colorings and candy combinations depending on the holiday - genius, I know.
Hummingbird Cake & Vanilla Cream Cheese Pudding Trifle
For the Cake:
3 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
For the Pudding:
1 and a half tubs (8 ounce each) Cool Whip - 12 ounces total
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups milk
1 (4 to 5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding (very important to buy instant only!)
1/4 cup Malibu Rum
10-15 Keebler's brand Sandies Pecan Shortbread Cookies, crumbled
1 bag Hershey's HEATH Milk Chocolate English Toffee Bits
Remaining half tub of cool whip (left over from pudding), for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan. I use a sandwich baggie as a glove to make this step easy:
Dust with flour and knock out excess. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Whisk to combine.
I typically use a potato masher for my bananas:
In a large bowl combine the bananas, sugar, oil, pineapple, beaten eggs, and vanilla.
Gradually fold in the dry ingredients in 3 additions.
Just before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, fold in the pecans to combine.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed with your finger tips.
Allow cake to fully cool on a wire rack.
*Note: Although I didn't do this step with my trifle, I would HIGHLY recommend to brush the cake with the Malibu Rum once it's cool. I found the finished cake needed a kick and I think the rum would have done the trick. Just be sure to poke the cake all over with a fork before brushing on the rum. This step ensures the alcohol will be fully absorbed into the cake. Also, do not remove cake from pan as it helps to keep the moisture in. Place cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours prior to assembling the trifle to allow the rum to penetrate.
Once the cake has cooled (and marinated if using the rum), prepare the pudding. In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and pudding mix. Be sure to beat well to dissolve the powder.
In a large bowl, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth and no lumps remain (it's important to use room temperature cream cheese to avoid any lumps).
Fold in the Cool Whip.
Fold in the pudding mixture (which should be slightly thickened by now). Combine until no streaks remain. Do not over-mix.
To assemble the trifle, place a layer of crumbled cake in the bottom of your trifle dish (crumble with your hands). *Note: I cut off the edges of the cake as they were a bit tougher than the center, thus making it more difficult to crumble.
Crumble about 4-5 cookies on top of the cake layer:
Sprinkle approx. 1/4 cup of the HEATH Toffee Bits over the cookies:
Spread HALF of the pudding mixture over the toffee. Use the back of a spoon to smooth it out.
Follow with another layer of cake, cookies, toffee, and remaining pudding.
Top with the remaining Cool Whip (I leave a small border so the pudding shows under the Cool Whip) and top with the remaining toffee bits and a full cookie as garnish.
cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
pudding recipe adapted from Paula Deen