August 23, 2011

Hummingbird Cake


this post, on this particular day, is one that i've been thinking about and planning in my head for a while. i wasn't quite sure exactly what words i'd put down and am still looking for the right words to say.

today marks the fourth year since my husband's only sibling, my brother-in-law, unexpectedly and tragically passed away. in some ways it seems like yesterday and a lifetime all at once.

jason was an enormous teddy bear of a guy. never knowing a stranger. always connecting friends. forever infecting those around him with smiles, whether the laughter was with or at him. he was loved by everyone who knew him. really loved. after four hours and truly over 1000 friends and family members at his visitation, many thereafter were turned away after waiting in long lines. ...and he gave the absolute best hugs. ever.

when august 23rd rolls around each year, we are reminded just slightly more than all of the other days of the year, that his absence leaves behind a gaping hole in the future where family vacations, brotherly phone calls and life together should have been. his roles of husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend weren't finished yet. but he was gone.

loss, grief and love seem to be a common topic the past several weeks. first, a dear friend from my childhood lost her daddy in a quick, life-changing moment to a heart attack. sweet holly is the first of my group of girlfriends to experience the death of a parent. for some in this community of food bloggers i've recently joined, august is a painful month. jennifer perillo of in jennie's kitchen lost her husband, also to a sudden heart attack, at the beginning of the month. the outpouring of love, support and compassion for her and her two young daughters across the network of food blogs has been truly amazing and touching. last week, kristin of dine and dish watched her brother breathe his final breath after a short battle with cancer. she wrote a beautiful post the day of his death, sharing the enormous importance of giving grace and forgiveness. this raw and honest message of truth in a moment of real perspective is one we should listen to. lastly, helene dujardin of tartelette recently wrote of her own brother's death in an august past.

i feel once you've experienced the death of someone dear to you, you are part of a club no one really wants to be a member of. but it does leave you with an understanding, a compassion and a lovingkindness for those who find their hearts "shattered into a million pieces". when news of a death comes my way, it's hard not to relive to some degree the shock, grief, despair and sadness we experienced with jason's death. my heart breaks for holly, jennie, kristin, helene, my husband and all who ache for one last hug and another chance to say "i love you". but i do believe in the comfort and power of prayer, the sovereignty of One wiser than us all and the goodness of human hearts to hold each other up in times of pain and struggle.

hummingbirds remind me first of my brother-in-law. shortly after jason's death, my sweet husband was quietly sitting alone on the patio of my parent's texas ranch staring at the still water, thinking of his brother. a tiny hummingbird appeared, flew straight to him and hovered mid-air directly in his face, eye to eye, for a full minute. this was only one of a few visits from hummingbirds just after jason left us. i now see those beautiful, delicate creatures as messengers of hope...

remember to hug those you love today. this is the only moment we are guaranteed. for now.

we love you, jason. and miss you every day.


Hummingbird Cake

4          teaspoons ground golden flax
8          teaspoons very hot water

Cooking spray
390      grams (about 3 cups) kumquat all-purpose flour
1 1/2    teaspoons ground cinnamon
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2       teaspoon salt
1          cup finely chopped pecans
2          cups sugar
3          large eggs
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
8          ounces drained, canned crushed pineapple
2          cups mashed bananas (about 4 bananas)
3/4       cup canola oil

1          cup butter, softened
2          (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1          tablespoon vanilla extract
2          (1-pound) packages powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350`. 

2. Combine ground flax and hot water until a thickened slurry forms; set aside.

3. Cut parchment circles to fit the bottom of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans. Spray with cooking spray and place circles in the bottoms of the pans; set aside.

4. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and pecans in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until just pale and thickened. Add flax slurry to egg mixture and beat quickly to combine. Add pineapple, bananas, and oil to egg mixture. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until combined.

5. Divide and pour batter evenly among three prepared pans. Bake pans at 350` for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire racks.

6. Meanwhile, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer until creamy and combined. Add powdered sugar, in batches, until well combined. Do not overbeat or create too many air bubbles in the frosting.

7. Frost top of one layer of cake, stack another layer and frost top, stack last layer. Frost top and sides of cake with a thin layer of frosting. Chill cake and frosting for 4 hours or overnight. Give remaining frosting a good stir, and use all to frost cake. 
Yield: 12- 16 servings.

**hummingbird was created freehand with Wilton Dark Chocolate Candy Melts.



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