(Plus mango, coconut and lime slithers. Decorated with pineapple flowers)

Vegan Hummingbird Cake

Apart from writing, I like to cook. And apparently other people like me to cook too. Which was why I was asked to make three cakes for a wedding. While the Red Velvet and White Chocolate Mud cakes were an (almost) easy task to provide, ideas for a nut-free vegan cake were proving more difficult to come by. Until I created this recipe.

I remembered fondly a moist and coconutty Hummingbird Cake layered with cream cheese frosting (hmmm) and I wondered if the pineapple and banana would help a vegan version be both moist and delicious – without the need for eggs or butter – and I was right (doesn’t happen often.)

The next step was to find the right balance so the cake would be light too, plus have a depth of flavour that the addition of nuts usually added (this one needed to be completely nut free – apart from the cook. Of course.)

Add to this the need to make the frosting and decoration wedding cake worthy – and the quest was on. After three attempts, this is the final, and might I say absolutely delicious, version.

NOTES: This cake has a under a cup of refined sugar (including the frosting) – yay. During my experimentation I found that different brands of coconut cream whip better than others. You will need to test with the brands available (and organic if you can find it.) Make sure the coconut cream is very (very) cold, and that you don’t over beat, adding heat into it. Note that it won’t hold its shape in a warm room but if it doesn’t hold its shape, don’t fret, it tastes just as good runny as it does whipped. (Hence the different photos above.) You can also find plenty of pineapple flower instructions here. I have also made the frosting with passionfruit instead of mango (during winter) and it tastes just as good!


  • 12 tablespoon olive oil
  • 50g raw sugar
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 10g maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 270g SR flour
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small banana
  • 425g tin pineapple chunks drained (save ¼ cup of the juice)

For the Mango and Coconut Frosting (and the mango and lime slithers):

  • 2 x 400ml cans coconut cream (refrigerated overnight)
  • ¼ cup icing sugar (optional)
  • 2 mangos – slice 3 cheeks into slithers and puree the rest of the mango to make ½ cup mango puree
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line 2 x 8″ cake pans with baking paper and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, coconut, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the olive oil, sugars, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  5. Mash or blend the pineapple with the saved ¼ cup of juice (I used a hand/wand blender.)
  6. Add the banana and blend.
  7. Add to the oil and sugar mixture and mix thoroughly (Note: I blend the fruit into the oil and sugar mixture with my hand blender.)
  8. Make a well in the centre of the flour etc. and add the oil, sugar and fruit mixture (you are adding the wet mixture to the dry.)
  9. Stir to combine, but do not over-mix (this can make the batter rubbery.)
  10. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  11. Let cool briefly, then run a knife around the edges and remove cakes from the pans and let cool on a rack. (Do not let sit in the tins as they will sweat.)


  1. Cut the cheeks from the mangoes.
  2. Slice 3 cheeks from their skin into slithers – pencil width.
  3. Mix with the coconut and lime zest.
  4. Take the remaining cheek and mango fruit, peel and place in a small bow with the lime juice.
  5. Puree until smooth (I used a wand blender.)

Note: The mango and coconut is optional – the cake is lovely just with the frosting.


  1. Remove the coconut cream cans from the fridge and scoop out the hardened coconut cream from the top into a mixing bowl (keep the leftover coconut water for making smoothies.)
  2. Sift the icing sugar into the coconut cream.
  3. Using a hand whisk (not an electric beater), whip the coconut cream to soft peaks.
  4. Add the cornflour and mango puree and whip to mix (NOTE: the cornflour was added because this cake was made for a wedding and the frosting needed to stay set in the heat of a reception room. If you are going to serve straight away or have a fridge to keep the cake in before serving you can omit the cornflour)
  5. Store the frosting in the fridge until you are ready to frost the cake.


  1. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate.
  2. Cover the top with some coconut cream frosting – in a layer about 5mm thick.
  3. Lay the mango slithers on top of the frosting from the centre out (like the hands of a clock. You want to make it easy to cut the cake, and have a few slithers in each slice.)
  4. Cover the mango slices in another 3 mm frosting.
  5. Place the other cake layer on top of this.
  6. Cover the top with a nice thick layer of frosting.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  8. Decorate with pineapple flowers (or shaved or shredded coconut.)
  9. TIP: Put any leftover frosting into a plastic container in the freezer. It makes a delicious (and light) icecream.


  • Replace 40g of flour with 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut and replace the pineapple with 200g red papaya. Use orange juice instead of the pineapple juice. The resulting cake was a glorious orange and tasted amazing.
  • Add passionfruit pulp to the icing instead of mango.

And here are the final three cakes at the wedding in all their glory. The hummingbird on the far right.

The wedding cakes