Recently I saw a poster that said “never make eye contact while eating a banana.” That made me laugh, out loud, like a 13 year old boy, just a little.

In my hunt for ways to use bananas (besides the obvious banana bread), since I always have them in the house, I came across a hummingbird cake. Um, what the heck is a hummingbird cake?

See, I didn’t grow up with a mom who made all the ‘traditional’ ‘classic’ desserts. She made pasta, and more pasta. We lived on pasta. Cake, I don’t ever recall her making one, unless it was from a box. And even then, she preferred to buy a HONKIN sheet cake from Costco. No wonder I love Costco, it runs in my blood. I still have a strong love for Costco’s white cake with butter cream frosting. Or their carrot cake. Or their muffins. I told you, Costco love, it’s in my blood. I can’t deny it, that would be like denying my identity.

Anyway, a hummingbird cake is like carrot cake’s distant cousin. Both have fruit, nuts and a cream cheese frosting. And when you don’t have any cream cheese on hand, you improvise and make an upside down cake, naturally.

The aroma of banana and coconut baking, sweet heaven.

Did I mention this is lower fat? Remember the peach upside down cake I made a couple weeks ago? Ya, that one wasn’t, but it was worth EVERY calorie, EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.
I used half whole wheat flour to bump of the ‘health’ value (because whole wheat totally makes this healthy, by the way). It’s also dairy free, but, if you don’t have dairy issues, you can replace the soy milk with regular milk or buttermilk.

Hummingbird Upside Down Cake
Makes 1-9 inch cake (serves 8)

1 cup pureed banana (about 2 bananas)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar

Fruit ‘Topping’
1 banana, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan (a springform pan if you have it) and arrange the banana slices around the edge and the pineapple chunks in the middle of the pan. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the coconut.

Meanwhile, mix the bananas and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the soy milk, vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the banana mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the fruit/coconut and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a banana or pineapple piece sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake.
*WHEN some fruit does stick, it’s OK, half of my fruit stuck to the cake pan. I just lifted it out and replaced it on the cake.

Cut into slices and serve for breakfast, I mean dessert.