Monday, September 26, 2011

Hummingbird Cake

After having spent my entire Saturday at Undokai, I have a pile of stuff to do, but with children home for a school holiday it is hard to focus on any one thing for long. I can see why we don't do these all day weekend festivals in the States. The children get a lot out of the event- working for weeks on their dances, learning songs, building bonds with one another, and learning about competition in a healthy, but realistic way. I asked the Moose, "How does it feel to win Undokai in first grade?" Sounding like an adult, he said to me with some annoyance, "We're all winners Mama- because we all did it." I have  moments of grave concern for that son of mine, but then he pulls out a jewel or two. Though neither of my children won their running heat, they both were proud of their efforts at all of the tasks and of their team winning- go Yellow. They finally demoed a few of their dance steps which had been verboten before Undokai.

With the school holiday, I had the unusual need to provide lunch at home today. I remembered to feed my children and to shop for food, mostly because I was hungry too. I now have a bread machine which is known as a "home bakery" in Japan; a birthday present from my husband. The problem is that all of the buttons and instructions are in Japanese. It is a bit more complicated than I expected. I might get the gist of a conversation in Japanese if it is about something I am familiar with, but hiragana, katakana, and kanji hieroglyphics along with any electronic gizmo are more like a trip to outer space. I am floating in the dark mass of space just looking at the machine and the manual. I intended to make bread today.

After hula class the Mule asked me, "Why are you making pie Mama? I thought you were going to make bread." I nodded and thought, "because I know how to make pie." Really it was quiche. I made quiche because I had fifteen eggs in the fridge along with a chunk of Swiss cheese, asparagus, and ham. I can't resist quiche made with all of that. I gave her some of the extra pie dough to roll out for applesauce turnovers while I made a few with pineapple jam. The munsters prefer apples and cinnamon to my pineapple obsession.

I have a lot of pineapple jam. I need to make another pineapple cake, but first I have to make a banana cake as I have three black bananas awaiting transformation. Perhaps I could combine them into pineapple banana cake? Reminds me, I made a Hummingbird Cake from my mother's Southern Living Cookbooks when I was a pre-teen with pineapple, bananas, and walnuts. It was frosted with cream cheese frosting. I think that is when I fell in love with cream cheese frosting. It is a sweet, rich cake, not the kind I make much anymore. I should try Japonifying it to see if I can get it a bit lighter and less sweet. I don't like the heavy, sweetness of American desserts now, but I love tea and cake. I am not sure who will eat it with me, but it might be very tasty. Perhaps I can trade tea and cake for Japanese bread machine lessons?
Hummingbird Loaf- my variant uses pineapple jam

Mrs. Wiggins' recipe [1978] 
"Hummingbird cake
3 cups all-pupose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups salad oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided
2 cups chopped bananas
Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add eggs and salad oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup chopped pecans, and bananas. Spoon batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch cakepans. Bake at 350 degrees F. For 25 to 30 minutes; remove from pans, and cool immediately. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup chopped pecans. Yield: one 9-inch layer cake.Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 (16 ounce) packages powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Yield: enough for a 3 layer cake.--Mrs. L.H. Wiggins, Greesnboro, North Carolina"
---"Making the most of bananas," Southern Living, February 1978 (p. 206)

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