I maintain a subscription to the weekly newspaper from my hometown of Morgantown, Kentucky. The paper is called The Butler County Banner (except on Sunday, when it’s the Green River Republican), and tends to sit to the far right on any given issue. Though sometimes it reads more like a church bulletin and less like a newspaper, I still enjoy keeping up with the news and events from our little town. I particularly enjoy reading, out loud, the community columns, in which various well-known folks from these communities relate the "doin's" that have happened over the last week. I put on the Southern accent I grew up with, and have at it:
"This week, Ed and Mayline Belcher visited with Carp and Rhody Johnson at their home. Rhody cooked a nice supper. Jerlene, Susie, and Ettamae Hatcher went to the Wal-Mart in Bowling Green and had a nice time shopping. We all had a nice time in church last Sunday and Bro. Dockery preached a nice sermon. Ettamae Hatcher brought a red velvet cake to the supper afterwards and we sure enjoyed it. I hope the weather will be nice next week. Fred and Vannie Flener visited with me and Dub this week. Dub got out of the hospital last week and is on the mend."
And on and on. Once in a while I actually know some of the folks in these news items. But bless 'em, they’re good people and I've arrived at the age where I even enjoy reading about their comings and goings.
One of those folks is Miss June B. Rice. Miss June writes a small column herself, usually a short piece on whatever strikes her fancy. A retired teacher, Miss June’s columns are always a pleasure to read and you can spot the influence of a life lived in education. Occasionally Miss June goes traveling on speaking engagements, and comes upon a dish or a dessert that's so good she just has to share it with her readers.
On a visit to Lexington, Miss June tasted a cake that she said " ... was different from any I had ever tasted." It's called Hummingbird Cake and, from reading the recipe, sounded unusual enough that I gave it a try. Since it called for all-purpose flour and only baking soda for leavening, I wondered if the cake would rise enough to actually be a cake. It did indeed, and the cake was every bit as good as Miss June said. The bananas tend to dominate just a bit, but you can still notice the pineapple and pecans in the background. Miss June wondered in her column if making the cake was "worth anyone’s trouble", and I can report that it is definitely worth the trouble.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C , gas mark 4). Grease and flour a standard oblong cake pan. I use a 13" by 9" by 2" pan of the type usually used for "sheet cakes".
- 3 cups (750 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking soda ("sody", as they call it in Kentucky)
- ½ teaspoon (2 ml) salt
- 2 cups (500 ml) sugar (for those avoiding sugar, Splenda works just as well)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup (175 ml) vegetable oil
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces (250 ml) crushed pineapple, with juice
- ½ cup (125 ml) chopped pecans (walnuts can be substituted)
- 1¾ cup (425 ml) mashed bananas
Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the eggs and oil. Stir all just to moisten, and then add the vanilla, pineapple, pecans, and bananas. Mix well, but don't overmix it, please, and pour into the pan. Bake 30 minutes, or until a cake tester says it's done.
When the cake is cool, I recommend a bland frosting, such as this one, so as not to overpower the cake. I used a cream cheese frosting, which nicely set off the flavor of the bananas and pineapple in the cake. Give it a try the next time you require a cake that's sure to be one most folks haven’t tried. It'll make Miss June happy!
Thanks be to Maylith for some assistance with conversions!