Dairy Free/ Original Versions/ Original Wheat and Dairy

Banana Cake with Banana, Pineapple, Coconut, Macadamia Nuts, Crystallized Ginger, Zest and Crushed Anise Seed and with a Dairy-Free Option

Years ago, I came across a recipe in a European cookbook for Hummingbird cake. I was very disappointed in the results. It was extremely dense. Over the years, I found several “improved” versions; all were disappointing at best, awful at worst. I finally found the original Hummingbird Cake recipe and was disappointed at how it collapsed. So it was time to experiment! And like a mad scientist, I began adding and subtracting and switching and changing and… Well, about the only thing this has in common with Hummingbird Cake is there are bananas and pineapple!

Bananas, pineapples, coconut, macadamias, lemons and limes are all tropical foods and go together wonderfully. The addition of anise seed, a Mediterranean seasoning, may seem odd, but when crushed, it enhances the cake by adding a depth to the flavor of the cake. When you make this cake, be prepared for the rave reviews. I just made this as cupcakes for my husband who wanted to bring a dessert for a potluck where he works. He was actually shocked at all the high praise (he’s used to my desserts and considers them “normal”) and as one person who was raving about this put it, she “crushed” these cupcakes!

See also: Gluten-Free Banana Cupcakes with Banana, Pineapple, Coconut, Macadamia Nuts, Crystallized Ginger and Zest and with a Dairy-Free Option, Vegan Banana Cake with Banana, Pineapple, Coconut, Macadamia Nuts, Crystallized Ginger and Zest

The Inside Scoop

When both volumetric and weight measures are provided, the volumetric measures should be considered approximations. The standard measure for a cup of sugar is 192 grams. By volume, this measure will be less than 1 cup.

This is a very moist cake and tends to stick to the cake pans. To prevent this, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. To do so, place the cake pans on the parchment paper. Use a permanent marker to trace around the bottom of the cake pans. Cut out the circles by cutting inside the pens marks. After lining the bottom with parchment paper, spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cupcake liners should also be sprayed so that the cake doesn’t stick to the liners.

Parchment paper lining the bottom of the cake pans.

Crystallized ginger is very sticky and difficult to chop. However, it is much easier to mince if it is coated with flour. Place a tablespoon of flour on a cutting board and use it to coat the crystallized ginger. As you mince the ginger, the flour will continue to coat the smaller pieces, making it easier to continue mincing. Be sure to scrape the the knife as it becomes coated with bits of crystallized ginger. Add the grated lime and lemon zest and continue chopping until the zest and ginger are finely minced.

Many people object to the texture of coconut. For a smoother texture, place the coconut in a food mill and chop the coconut into a finer shred. The coconut can also be coated with flour and chopped on the cutting board.

Although adding crushed anise seed, which normally has a licorice flavor, may seem odd, it adds a wonderful “depth” to the flavor of the cake without adding a licorice flavor. However, it is important that the anise seed be crushed to a powder; whole anise seeds add an unpleasant texture.

Combine the flour , sugar, baking soda,salt, coconut, lime zest, lemon zest , crushed anise seed and crystallized ginger in a large bowl. Mix until all dry ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the flour; this helps to ensure an even rise.

From a 20-ounce can of pineapple, measure out the crushed pineapple using a slotted spoon that allows most of the pineapple juice to drain and place into a small bowl; set aside. The crushed pineapple can also be placed in a sieve to allow the excess juice to drain out. A little pineapple juice is fine but too much pineapple juice will cause the cake to fall.

Be sure eggs are at room temperature. Warm eggs hold more air than cold eggs, which means a lighter cake. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature before cracking, place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes.

Crack eggs into a small bowl before adding to the batter. That way, it is easy to remove any bits of eggshell or bloody eggs. Whisk eggs, canola oil, pineapple and vanilla extract together before adding to the batter.

To add the wet ingredients to the flour mix, make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour the wet ingredients into this well; this promotes the even distribution of liquid throughout the flour and reduces the likelihood of dry flour left on the bottom of the bowl.

Chop the macadamia nuts into 1/8″ (approximately) pieces. Smaller pieces enhance the flavor without adding excessive crunchiness to the cake.

For maximum banana flavor, do NOT mash the bananas. Rather, quarter the bananas lengthwise and chop into approximately 1/4″ cubes.

Fold the bananas and macadamia nuts into the batter by hand. Be sure bananas are distributed evenly throughout the batter; clumps of banana will cause the cake to “dip” at those clumps.

Cake ready to bake.

If possible, use a metal cake tester (I use a metal kebab skewer) to test for doneness. Metal cake testers are more accurate that toothpicks.

Beautifully risen, perfectly baked layers.

There is sufficient frosting to allow for decorations. If you do not wish to add any additional decorations, store any extra frosting in a resealable glass or plastic container, label and refrigerate for the next time you need cream cheese frosting!

Banana Cake with Banana, Pineapple, Coconut, Macadamia Nuts, Crystallized Ginger, Zest and Crushed Anise Seed and with a Dairy-Free Option

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
By Connie Teunis Serves: 12-30

An exceptionally moist cake packed with the tropical flavors of bananas, pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts, crystallized ginger, lemon and lime zest, plus a hint of anise seed!


  • 360 g./ 3 c. All-Purpose Flour + 1 Tablespoon
  • 384 g./ 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 132 g./ 1 1/8 c. Finely Shredded Sweetened Coconut
  • 1 T. Crystallized Ginger, minced
  • 1 t. Lime Zest, finely grated (zest from approximately 1 Lime)
  • 1 t. Lemon Zest, finely grated (zest from approximately ½ of a Lemon)
  • ¾ t. Anise Seed, crushed (*see Step 5)
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 ½ c. Canola Oil or other unflavored oil
  • 1 ½ t. Vanilla or Banana Extract
  • 360 g. Banana, Chopped (approximately 3 bananas)
  • 300 g. Crushed Pineapple, partially drained ( from a 20 ounce can of pineapple)
  • 60 g./ 1/2 c. Chopped Macadamia Nuts
  • Frosting:
  • 12 oz. / 1 ½ packages Cream Cheese or Vegan Cream Cheese, softened
  • 6 ounces/ 1 ½ sticks Butter or Vegan Butter, softened
  • 540 g./ 4 ½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 ½ t. Vanilla



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


This cake can be made as a 2-layer or 3-layer cake or as 30 2-ounce cupcakes. For cakes, line the bottoms only of the cake pans with parchment paper; spray lined cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. For cupcakes, line cupcake pans with cupcake liners; spray the cupcake liners lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.


In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, measure out the 360 grams/ 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside. If the coconut is not finely shredded, place the coconut in a small food processor and chop until finely shredded. (The coconut can also be chopped on a cutting board.) Add the coconut to the flour mix.


Place the 1 Tablespoon of flour on a cutting board. Coat the crystallized ginger with the flour and use a sharp knife to finely mince the ginger; scrape the ginger off the knife as necessary and continue chopping until finely minced. If zest is not finely grated, add the lemon and lime zest and continue to chop until finely grated. Add the crystallized ginger, lemon and lime zest to the flour mix.


*With a mortar and pestle, crush the anise seed. If a mortar and pestle is not available, do not use the anise seed. Add the crushed anise seed to the flour mix. Stir the flour mix so that all ingredients are distributed evenly.


Crack the eggs into a medium bowl; add the oil and extract and whisk to combine.


Measure out the crushed pineapple into a small bowl, allowing most of the juice to drain. Add the pineapple to the egg and oil mix; whisk to combine.


On the same cutting board, quarter the bananas lengthwise; chop into approximately ¼” cubes. Place into a small bowl and set aside.


Use the same cutting board to chop the Macadamias into approximately 1/8” pieces; place into the same bowl as the bananas and set aside.


Make a well in the flour mix; add the egg and oil mixture and mix on the slowest speed of the stand mixer or by hand for approximately 1 minute until all ingredients are combined. Continue to mix on a medium-slow speed for an additional minute.


Stir the bananas and macadamias in by hand, making sure that bananas are distributed evenly throughout the batter.


Distribute the batter evenly into the cake pans or spoon approximately 2 ounces of batter into the cupcake liners. Place the cake pans into the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour for a 2-layer cake (begin checking for doneness after 50 minutes), approximately 30 minutes for a 3-layer cake, or approximately 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cake is done when a metal cake tester, inserted into the middle of the cake/cupcakes, comes out clean.


Once cakes are done, remove the pans from the oven and place onto cooling racks. Run a knife around the inner edge of the cake pans to loosen the cake from the edge of the pans. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, tip the cakes out of the cake pans and place the cake layers, with the parchment paper still on the bottom, onto the cooling racks to cool completely. For cupcakes, remove the cupcakes from the cupcake tins and place onto cooling racks; cool completely.


Once the cake is cool, make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix together on lowest speed of the mixer until ingredients are combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix on the lowest speed until combined. Increase speed to medium high and mix until frosting is smooth.


To assemble, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of one cake layer and place, top down, onto a cake plate. For a 2-layer cake, spread ¾ cups of frosting on the bottom layer. For a 3-layer cake, spread ½ cup of frosting onto the bottom layer. For a 2-layer cake, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the remaining layer of cake and place onto the bottom layer, top-side up. Cover top and sides with remaining cream cheese frosting. Decorate as desired.


For a 3-layer cake, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the second layer of cake and place, top-side down, onto the bottom layer. Spread ½ cup of frosting onto the second layer. Remove the parchment paper from the third cake layer; place top-side up onto the cake. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting.


For cupcakes, frost all cupcakes with the frosting; decorate as desired.




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