Today is my 35th birthday!
As most of you know, my 34th year on this planet was pretty difficult. If you’re just tuning in, I lost my job, my bank account got emptied out by a scammer, a drunk driver destroyed my beloved car, and a whole buttload of other entertaining horseshit happened. But not all of it was bad.
The highlight of this year in my life was working on this blog non-stop, posting every week, knowing you guys were reading my culinary journey of self-destruction. As much as people love feel-good stories on the Internet, apparently you guys like feel-bad ones even more.
When I put the donation button up, you guys donated so much money I almost passed out. You helped me pay my rent, buy ingredients for the blog, and made me feel much better when I was sad. I met a bunch of you, you sent me a ton of emails, and I learned a lot of criminally obscene sex maneuvers from your mother. All-in-all, I’d say 34 was a success, despite the landmines I stepped on along the way.
Now, one of the most important parts of any birthday celebration is the birthday cake.
Sure, there are presents, free meals, and empty congratulations for making it another year without dying, but really, everyone comes to your birthday party for the nice cake. As adults, we are allowed to eat cake whenever we like, but for some reason, birthday cake is more important to people than other types of cake. The truth is, people go to boring birthday parties just so they can eat fancy once-a-year cake and leave early.
So I thought to myself, “Dannis Ree, people are crazy about cake, even though they can get it on a daily basis if they really wanted. Can you make a special occasion cake that is very interesting and delicious, while making it conceptually useless? And can you revisit this really tired concept of you buying main ingredients for your recipes at the pet store for the millionth time?”
The answer is yes. The answer, when it comes to me eating pet food is always yes. I am going to keep doing it until I die of pet food poisoning, which will be hilarious.
Hummingbird concentrate is a syrup people buy to feed hummingbirds in their backyard.
Hummingbirds are one of the coolest birds on the planet. They fly like bees, they sound like bees, and eat the same food as bees, yet they are not bees. As you can see, I did very well in elementary school.
Now, in order to get hummingbirds to visit you for lunch, you can put up a special feeder that dispenses a special syrup. This syrup simulates sweet nectar that comes out of flowers, which is basically all hummingbirds eat. Hummingbird food comes in a concentrated form at the pet store, and it is made up mostly of sucrose, water, dextrose, and citric acid. That sounds complicated, but it’s really just sugar and water.
In the southern states, there is a regional specialty known as hummingbird cake. For the most part, we do not eat it in Chicago, but since this clever recipe play on bird food and cakes is limited, I don’t really have a choice. Hummingbird cake is a relatively simple banana and pineapple cake, usually served with cream cheese frosting. Today I have adapted Paula Deen’s recipe, but I omitted the liberal amounts of racism she sprinkles on top.
First, you need to start by creaming the butter with granulated sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
Get your mind out of the gutter. All creaming means is to beat it with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until the mixture is light and fluffy. This takes about five minutes. This is not a step you should skip — it adds air and volume to your finished cake so it is not flat and dense like your mother’s bargain bin breast implants.
I usually do not think far ahead enough to put butter out for a while before I bake anything, so if I am cheating, I warm the butter up just a touch in the microwave on a very low power setting. Whatever you do, do not melt the butter, as you will not get the right creamed texture, and everyone will leave your birthday party because you are a loser who can’t bake a proper cake.
When your butter and sugar are finished creaming, they will generally look like a bowl of grainy grits.
Just like your mother’s nether regions do after we’re done with passionless mechanical sex.
That was bad. I’m sorry. Just kidding, I’m not sorry at all, I’m a horrible person who is decaying inside.
Next, you’ll need to add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, one at a time.
If you add all the eggs at once, it’s likely that you’ll get an inconsistent batter. If you’re celebrating your birthday alone, like me, then it’ll taste like misery no matter what, so who cares? It’s your cake, really.
Once everything is done incorporating, it will look like mashed potatoes.
At this point, you can add gravy and eat the whole thing. Forget about the cake. Diabetes is where it’s at. According to all the doctors in the world, everyone is going to get diabetes anyway and lose their extremities, so you might as well do it sooner rather than later.
Now mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
Despite the fact that this looks like a bowl of flour with a touch of baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, it’s actually a bowl of the highest grade cocaine I could find. My plan is to eventually shove the entire cake up my ass and smuggle it to Amsterdam, where I will live the rest of my days as “Pablo Asscobar.”
Incorporate the flour mixture into the creamed butter and eggs in small batches.
Real fun, I know. Writing about baking is boring. I still don’t quite get why mommy bloggers love doing it so much. Maybe because they’re boring too. Zing!
This is your finished hummingbird cake batter base.
Standard issue cake batter. Not like the extremely obscene baby batter post I did last Friday.
Roughly mash some fresh bananas until they look like lumpy baby diarrhea.
For the record, I’ve never actually seen baby diarrhea. I’ve only eaten it.
Add a can of crushed pineapple and some hummingbird concentrate to the mashed bananas.
Normally, you’d also use the juice from the canned pineapple for extra moisture, but today, drain it and drink it with some sparkling white wine to make a cocktail I call “The Frugal Soccer Mom Spritzer.” The hummingbird concentrate mixed with some water will replace the pineapple juice in the cake batter.
Add the fruit mix to the cake batter and beat it like a teenager who’s just discovered masturbation for the first time.
Actually, be gentle. Your first time shouldn’t be so violent. And neither should your baking.
Spray two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick spray and pour an equal amount of batter in each.
A lot of bakers say you should tap the pans on the counter to release any large bubbles in the batter, but I am pretty sure that doesn’t actually do anything. It’s just one of those things food writers tell people to make it look like they know what they’re doing.
For the frosting, you’ll need cream cheese softened to room temperature.
I love cream cheese and took a giant bite out of the brick, mostly because I knew this would make a good picture. Store-bought cream cheese is like dairy gum, since a lot of manufacturers add stabilizers and thickeners, which makes it fun to chew on long public transit rides.
Don’t judge. Since it is my birthday, I am allowed to do whatever I want, including butt stuff with strangers at the truck stop.
It is important to use room temperature cream cheese because you will avoid lumps in your frosting that way.
Your butter also needs to be at room temperature too. When it comes to baking, everything should be in harmony, just like your life and your relationships.
Man, I’m going to be 40 soon. I was supposed to be married and have kids by now. All I have is a cat, no job, no girlfriend and a vulgar blog. Worst birthday ever.
This is the perfect time to add even more hummingbird concentrate to your cake recipe.
Because people eat with their eyes first, use plenty of concentrate to add an appealingly pale pink tone to the outside of your cake. You know, like the suckling flesh of a newborn infant.
I never thought I’d be equating birthday cake to eating babies, but there’s a first for everything.
The most important part about baking is making a horrible mess in the kitchen.
If you are going to make a successful baked product, you need to have ingredients all over the place. It needs to be in your hair, on the floor, between the stove and the countertop, and all over your clothes. If you find yourself in a romantic comedy about food, your love interest will barge in the door and laugh affectionately at you at this point, and you will make love on the filthy kitchen floor, violating all sorts of health code standards.
Then they’ll leave you, just like everyone eventually does.
Presentation is important.
Make sure your cake is fully cooled before you start frosting it. Otherwise, the layers will slip around a bunch and you will look like a fraud. People will still enjoy your cake anyway, but they will talk shit behind your back and ruin your reputation.
The first layer of frosting doesn’t have to be pretty.
Since you’re stacking another layer of cake on top, the only important thing is that the frosting needs to be even. It’s okay. We’re all ugly on the inside.
Pop the second layer on top and finish frosting your hummingbird cake.
Really, if it’s your birthday, someone else should be baking you a cake. You shouldn’t be doing it alone with two cute stuffed animals named Harvey and Mr. Bee, who are always judging you with their beady little eyes.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
You’re almost finished. With life. Since each birthday marks another step towards the grave.
Hummingbird cake often has shredded coconut along its side.
I can barely function as a human being, so I decided to perch the cake on the sink and press coconut along its edges to minimize the mess. As you can see, I did a really good job while clogging the drain.
Now it’s time to decorate the cake.
As I was decorating the cake with store-bought frosting, it decided to burst on me from the top somehow. In retrospect, that weird farting noise coming from the tube should have been a warning before it took a dump all over my hand.
This is what it would look, feel, and taste like if Elmo took a dump on your hand.
Your mother and I went to town on the frosting at the same time. Ever see 2 Girls 1 Cup? What we did was like the Sesame Street edition. Don’t click on that link. Especially if you’re at work. You might actually get fired.
The end product will be magnificent.
My cake decorating skills are so amazing that I have decided not to start a bakery, knowing that I would crush all of my competition immediately. The consistent frosting job, the exquisite hand-lettering, the artisanship, the deliberate lopsidedness of the cake, it’s truly something extraordinary.
Hummingbird feeder cake is delicious.
It’s like an extremely moist banana cake, but fluffier and sweeter. The bits of crushed pineapple don’t have a ton of flavor, but they do add bits of chewy texture to break up the sponginess of the pastry. While hummingbird concentrate doesn’t add much to the taste aside from pure sugar, Paula Deen would be proud of the additional no-reason calories. She might be disappointed by the lack of racial epithets though.
Hummingbird (Feeder) Cake
- Nonstick baking spray
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium)
- One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
- 1/4 cup hummingbird concentrate mixed with 1/2 cup water
- Sweetened flaked coconut
Who cares? Just follow the instructions here and add hummingbird food wherever you feel like it. I don’t feel like writing up the recipe. It’s my birthday.
Thanks for being here to enjoy this nice slice of hummingbird cake with me. I will celebrate by putting my candle out with my own tears.