Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hummingbird Cake

Recently a few bloggers and I organised a get-together for a Sunday afternoon.  We were to catch up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in O’Connell Street, Sydney for a high tea.  During the organisational process that incredibly involved 94 group emails, it occurred to us that on the day we were to get together, it would be Rebecca’s birthday.

Well, as food bloggers we’re not known for letting a celebration slip by unnoticed and so it was decided we needed a cake.  And there was a unanimous decision that I should make the cake.  Thanks girls!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hummingbird Cake

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hummingbird Cake

Now Rebecca has named her blog, The Intolerant Chef because she has intolerances to gluten and lactose.  So of course I wanted to make a cake she would be able to eat so I adapted a hummingbird cake recipe, making it gluten and lactose free while also covering it in a meringue frosting instead of cream cheese icing.


It's always good to start any celebration with bubbles

It’s always good to start any celebration with bubbles

Lorraine, Brydie, Rebecca, Tania and I hadn’t been in the same room together for nearly a year.  (And Celia of course who was there in spirit but couldn’t be there on the day).  It was fantastic to be sitting around on comfy sofas sipping champagne discussing not only what was great about being together but also what was the main reason for our grouping – and I’ll tell you all about it in my next post.  Okay, okay, I’ll give you a little hint – we were there to support Lorraine in the launch of her book, Not Quite Nigella, and by support, we were banding together to help organise the catering for the event.  What could be better for a food blogger when launching a book with the caption, ‘My Path to Happiness Through Baking and Blogging’, than to have your blogging buddies cater your book launch (hence the 94 group emails).

The gluten-free high tea, $40/person

The gluten-free high tea, $40/person

But let’s not forget Rebecca.  Just because Rebecca is gluten and lactose intolerant, doesn’t mean she doesn’t like birthday cake.  This cake isn’t large.  I deliberately sized it for a small group because I knew there would only be five women enjoying it.  If making this for larger numbers, it is possible to double the quantities and use a larger cake tin and just leave in the oven for longer.

The setting

The setting

Happy birthday, Rebecca!  Thanks for coming up from Canberra and so lovely to share your day with you.

With Meringue Frosting and toasted coconut

With Meringue Frosting and toasted coconut

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hummingbird Cake

Serves:  8-10

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This cake uses readily sourced ingredients so is inexpensive to make.  The cake is traditionally covered in a cream cheese frosting however, to make dairy-free I’ve used a meringue frosting instead.

  • 450g can crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup gluten-free plain flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup mashed over ripe banana (about 2 small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 185C (375F).

Grease and line a 21cm (8.5 inch) cake tin.

Drain the pineapple in a sieve, press out as much syrup as possible and reserve 2 tbspns of the syrup.

In a large bowl, sift the flours, bicarb of soda and cinnamon.  Stir in the sugar and coconut.

In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs.  Add the bananas and mash with a fork.  Mix in the oil, pineapple, reserved syrup and walnuts.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold gently until combined.  Pour mixture into the prepared tin.

Cook cake for about 40-45 minutes or until the cake bounces back when touched.

Remove from oven when cooked and allow to stand for 15 minutes until the tin has cooled, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cool completely before icing.

Meringue Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.  Boil, uncovered, until sugar is dissolved.  Boil, uncovered, without stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly thick but not coloured.   If using a candy thermometer, the syrup should reach 114C (240F) when it is ready to use.

While syrup is boiling, whisk egg whites in a small bowl until stiff.  Keep beating.

When syrup has reached desired temperature remove from heat and let bubbles subside.

When syrup is ready, pour into egg whites in a very thin stream (if you add too quickly, the icing will be runny and won’t thicken).  After syrup has been added, continue to beat until thick and glossy and temperature has dropped to warm.  Add vanilla extract.

Use a metal spatula to cover over cake.

Place coconut in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Gently toast coconut until golden.  When cool, sprinkle over cake.  To cover the sides, take small amounts of coconut in your hand and throw onto sides of cake – it works for me!

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Serve with berries or whipped cream.

Happy birthday to Rebecca

Happy birthday Rebecca


Related Post


  1. Looks and sounds delicious! 🙂

  2. What a wonderful event! I’m so jealous, I would have been all over this lovely gathering had I lived even on the same continent! I’ll have a little surprise in June, can hardly wait to blog about it!
    That cake sounds incredible, I love a meringue icing so simple yet deliciously creamy. What a beautiful way to spend a birthday.

  3. Ah, what a beautiful cake and so well suited for dietary needs!

  4. I’m sorry I missed it, Charlie, but your cake looked beautiful! So much fun to catch up that evening! 🙂

  5. What a wonderful outing with some of the best Sydney bloggers 😀
    And honestly, your cake looks so professional and perfect for Rebecca!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. I am greeeen with envy! That sounds like so much fun, honestly! I love the cake, the setting, and of course, my best wishes to Lorriane – her book will be best seller, no doubt.

  7. For all, the cake was totally delicious and the icing perfect. It was so good to be able to share…. no let me refraze that….have a reason to have high tea ….and then Rebeccas cake all in the same sitting. It was so good to be with people I really respect and like on a day that really didnt start well for me. Great work Charlie and hopefully we will be in the same room together again sooner rather than later.

  8. Omg this looks so delicious!!! I would have loved to try a slice 🙂

    So nice meeting you on Monday too 🙂

  9. This was such a wonderful birthday indeed! I was so excited to see everyone and didn’t realise the Birthday Faries had been conspiring 🙂
    Charlie, your cake was just wonderful sweetheart and I was so touched you went too so much effort for me. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!! Yummy, moist, dense, and the frosting was genius indeed, honestly a wonderful substitute for the cream cheese icing, and did I mention yummy?
    It just proves what I always say- gluten free doesn’t mean flavour free 🙂 xox xox

  10. What a gorgeous cake that was! And that is coming from someone who had three helpings of it. Making Italian meringue was genius to make the frosting dairy free and I liked that the cake itself wasn’t overly sweet so the icing balanced it perfectly. Has it really been that long? Let’s not wait that long again! xxx

  11. Your hummingbird cake looks delightful, and it’s always a bonus for those who have dietary requirements! Can you believe I’ve still not been to a high tea? How disappointing of me!

  12. Now that sounds like a great time, Charlie! Of course they asked you to bake the birthday cake. You’re too good at it to leave the job to another. Just look at the cake you made. It’s fantastic!

  13. Wow, gorgeous cake my dear!! Sounds like a fun event 🙂

  14. What a gorgeous cake for a wonderful occasion…celebrating a birthday and a book launch!!! I love getting together with fellow bloggers. Wish I could have joined you 🙂

  15. Oooh, gluten-free and dairy-free? So healthy!

  16. So pretty and I love coconut.

  17. What a great event! The cake looks delicious.

  18. Sounds like a fabulous get together and I bet that catering will be absolutely superb for the launch. Lovely cake too. how did you fit it all in.

  19. What a lovely special occasion, to get together with other bloggers for a gluten-free tea! I’ve never heard of such a specialized tea, and this is great. The hummingbird cake is very impressive. I don’t have a gluten or dairy issue, but the recipe is quite intriguing. I look forward to making one myself, although yours always look more beautiful than mine turn out! 🙂

  20. 94 emails is impressive, and so is this cake! I think it’s lovely that you were able to celebrate both the book launch and a birthday. I’m really impressed with your cake adaptations too – it clearly turned out beautifully.

  21. The cake looks beautiful and the event a real celebration. What fun.

  22. Oh how exciting Charlie! I so wish I could come but the flight is a little out of budget for me now 🙁
    Your cake looks wonderful. My grandma has requested hummingbird cake for Mother’s day so I’ll be making one on Saturday.

  23. Happy Birthday Rebecca ,,,, and cheers to bloggers getting together!

  24. What a wonderful group. I wish I lived closer because I’d beg to have my foot in the door when you got together. Such fun and such food! That cake is beautiful, Charlie!

  25. Happy Birthday Rebecca! What a lovely cake, it certainly is very pretty and a meringue frosting is genius!
    It’s nice to ‘meet’ you Charlie, you have a most lovely blog here 🙂

  26. Sounds like a fun event! And the cake is spectacular! Truly nice – thanks so much.

  27. I’ve always wanted to try a hummingbird cake. I first heard of it years ago. Yours looks delicious!

  28. I am now wishing I lived in Australia, or at least close enough to come to the book launch party! What an event that will be. I can just imagine the deliciousness you are all preparing! And this cake is just beautiful. There is no question I would have picked you to make the cake as well. You do have a gift! And I will be making this recipe for my friend’s birthday this year as well. She too is gluten and dairy free. 🙂 Thanks Charlie!

  29. What a lovely gathering, I too would have voted for you to make the cake.

  30. Gluten Free High Tea, I love the sound of that! I like using a certain brand of gluten-free products because I know they are non-GMO. That’s important to me these days. Actually, these days I’m not eating flour at all, but when I do start again, that’s what I’ll be using!! xo

  31. Oh, and that frosting….SHUT UP!?!?!

  32. Aw! A cake I could eat made my my favourite Charlie for my favourite Spay Lady! Wish I could’ve been there to cheer for you both xo

  33. I’ve never heard of hummingbird cake, but it sounds delicious — I really like pineapple a lot. It looks very pretty, too!

  34. What a wonderful event! Nothing beats a gathering with just food bloggers. And of course, there will be the most delicious food .
    Thanks for sharing and thank you for the lovely comment left on my guest post (dulce de leche bars) left on Liz’s blog

  35. Looks & sounds delish!! I remember my first taste of hummingbird cake many years back and thought it was the cake to end all cakes!

  36. Its is the season for fresh pineapple! Can’t believe this cake is gluten and dairy free.

  37. LOL – I’d heard of Rebecca’s blog before but had always assumed she’d called it that because maybe she was like me in the kitchen – intolerant of other people being there and trying to “help”… haha, now I know the real reason the name makes much more sense! 😀

  38. Looks like you ladies had a wonderful time and what a great cake to make for a friend! It’s an amazing cake and hard to believe it’s both dairy and gluten-free!

  39. I am very impressed by that gluten-free afternoon tea spread and by your cake. I could eat everything in that and love it. I must check out Rebecca’s blog – I don’t think I know it.

  40. It was a lovely afternoon wasn’t it and it really was such a delicious cake….mmm, actually I’d quite like another slice now 🙂

  41. Happy Birthday to Rebecca and you did an amazing job making this delicious cooking cake and it’s gluten and dairy free wow that’s great!!! 🙂 Will book mark this recipe for my friends who are intolerant ~

    it’s so nice of you girls to not only celebrate Rebecca’s birthday but also Lorraine’s book its pretty amazing and I’m so happy for her 🙂 I finished the book within 2 days hehe ~

  42. You are seriously the QUEEN cake maker, and what a gorgeous friend you are too xx

  43. Gorgeous cake, Charlie! Lately I have more friends or their kids around me who need to eat gluten free. This recipe will be very nice to have! Happy Birthday to Rebecca! It looks like you all had a wonderful time.

  44. Hi Charlie, very beautiful and gorgeous cake. You’re an excellent baker/cook. 2 thumbs up for you. 🙂

  45. Hummingbird Cake was one of my Mom’s favorites. I can’t see one without thinking of her. Love this dairy-free version.

  46. How beautiful, your pictures are stunning! The idea to make a meringue frosting, that would look so pretty, and taste amazing! That is very sweet to make sure the cake was eaten by everyone! Hugs, Terra

  47. Thank you so much for a solution to icing for the lactose intolerant. (I’m here via the Intolerant Chef)

Speak Your Mind