Hummingbird Cake and…The Mothers’ Group

When you have your first baby you are usually invited by the Sister at your Baby Health Clinic to join a Mothers’ Group.  These groups start off meeting once a week at the Clinic and it’s a fantastic opportunity for new mums to meet some women in a similar situation.  Some of these groups are so successful that many of the mothers become life long friends.

Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Almonds

When Archie was born the Clinic Sister let me know that there was a Mothers’ Group that would be starting in four months that I could go to.  I impatiently bided my time as I didn’t have any family or friends nearby with a newborn and was looking forward to meeting some new mothers.

The day of the first meeting finally arrived.  I didn’t live far from the Health Clinic and being car-less, I walked there, pushing Archie in the pram.  When I arrived I noticed a very posh BMW pull up and the woman driving it (despite it being a very hot day), was wearing black leather gloves that matched the interior of her car.  She removed her gloves and threw them on the front seat then she reached into the back and pulled out a baby capsule.  That’s when I realised this woman who looked full of confidence, was going to be part of the Mothers’ Group.

Once we were inside the clinic she came over to me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Terese’.  And most people I know with that name pronounce it ‘Tereeze’ but she wanted it pronounced, ‘Te-raise’.  And then she told me her surname and I looked at her blankly.  She looked puzzled and said, ‘You know, I’m from that family.  We own ski resorts, hotels, cinema complexes and business magazines.’  I said, ‘Oh, right’, because I’d never heard of that family but I was about to hear a whole lot more.  She told me that she didn’t have to work because she has a trust fund.  Every quarter a lump sum was put in her account and that a trust fund had just been set up for her daughter.  She had named her daughter after an American singer who had a few number one hits at the time which today would be like naming your daughter, Beyonce.

Terese spoke very loudly and thought she’d be good at being in charge of the Mothers’ Group.   Once we had completed the series at the Clinic, Terese suggested that we next meet at the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour because that’s where she and her husband were married.  Terese had married a Chinese Australian and he was so quiet and shy.  He was a chef but he didn’t work because Terese liked him to be at home.

I explained to Terese that I wouldn’t be able to get to the Chinese Gardens because I didn’t have a car and it would take me an hour and a half to get there by public transport.  She wouldn’t hear of changing her plans nor did she offer me a lift in her BMW so I didn’t go.

The next get-together she organised was Yum-Cha at her favourite Chinese restaurant and ‘everyone just bring your prams and it will be great’.  But I explained to Terese that Archie wasn’t the restaurant type as he was a baby who never slept and he hated being confined to a stroller and as he was now crawling, would be screaming and arching his back and struggling to be out of the stroller and I didn’t think the restaurant would like that.  But she wouldn’t change her mind and so I didn’t go to that Mothers’ Group meeting either.

After a few months the Mothers’ Group was completely splintered and fractured with most people not turning up because one person was orchestrating events that most of us didn’t want to attend.  We would say, ‘But I think the idea of Mothers’ Group is that you just keep it simple by meeting in each others’ homes.  If people want to do other things during the week then that’s up to them.’  But Terese couldn’t understand why we didn’t want to get out of our homes.  Everyone stopped going and the group dissolved.

I completely lost contact with Terese but I do know she had another daughter and named this one after a Canadian singer who had some number one hits which today would be like calling your daughter Pink or Gaga.  She sent her two girls to a private school on Sydney’s North Shore but wasn’t happy with the school and removed the girls.  She sent them to boarding school in Switzerland.  She and her husband then traveled for a few years before she filed for divorce.

Despite the fact our Mothers’ Group was completely dysfunctional I did make two life-long friends.  One of the girls has two daughters the same age as Archie and Arabella and we have had many great times and even some happy holidays together.

Have you ever been to a Mothers’ Group?

When we were allowed to meet in each others’ homes, we would bring homemade treats to share.  I used to like making this Hummingbird Cake.

Hummingbird Cake

Serves:  10-14

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  It doesn’t cost a lot to make this cake especially when you compare the price with buying a cake from a quality cake shop.

  • olive oil to grease
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 3/4 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 x 440g can crushed pineapple in natural syrup
  • 3 small ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 3/4 cup extra light olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 x 250g packet cream cheese at room temperature
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 3 tspns milk

Pre-heat oven to 160C.

Brush a round 22cm cake pan with olive oil to grease.  Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper.  Spread the flaked coconut over a baking tray.  Bake for 5-8 minutes or until toasted.

Combine the flour, sugar, dessicated coconut, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Add the pineapple, banana, olive oil and egg and stir until combined.  Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake in oven, covering the cake with foil if ti browns too quickly, for 1 hr 25 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Set aside in the pan for 10 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl.  Add the icing sugar and beat until well combined.  Add milk and bet to combine.  Place the cake on a plate.  Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and serve.

This recipe is by Debra Dickson.

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  1. I think hummingbird cake could just be my favourite cake. There’s something about the pineapple in it that I find quite addictive. Your version looks great!

    That posh mother sounds awful. I was hoping to hear that she was quietly left out of sneakily organised, new mother appropriate activities that didn’t involve restaurants, until she left the group, so it was a bit sad to read that the group ended instead. Still, it’s good you made some friends and I guess she didn’t have a very happy ending anyway!

  2. Mother’s Group…sigh. It took us all four months to realise that, apart from having babies, none of us had anything else in common. In hindsight, I kind of wish I’d never gone, it became a chore by about week 3. Your hummingbird cake is very beautiful, Charlie!

  3. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Oh yes I remember mothers group and it was great – I made some very good friends, that my children ended up being at school with. I would never have had time to make this cake – you must have been very organised! It looks lovely.

  4. Oh dear, how sad that one person can exert such an influence on a whole group. I feel sorry for her in a weird way but then again she probably thinks she lives a pretty fab life 😛

  5. Wow that rich mother sounds like she walked straight out of a movie as of course, the evil mother who gets a cake thrown in her hair type and the rest of the mothers giggle….:P The cake looks fabulous. 🙂

  6. Oh gosh…i feel so sorry for you Charlie and the other new mothers who simply wanted to meet up and support each other. I don’t like pretentious people like her…they think they own the whole world simply because they are well-off.

    I’m glad you were able to make some other friends from the Mother group 😉 Sighh mother groups don’t happen here in HK so when my sister had my nephew she didn’t have to chance to go to one. But she said she would have liked the opportunity to meet other new mothers ~

    Did you get the chance to go to any other Mother groups when Arabella or Alfie was born? 😉

  7. When I have kids, I’m going to have to avoid all Upper East Side of Manhattan mother’s groups because I fear that all of the mothers will be like that woman. Maybe I’ll commute to one in brooklyn. Mother seem more chill there.

    This cake! Delicious.

  8. This hummingbird cake sounds delicious. I don’t have any children, so I don’t know what a Mothers’ group would be like.

  9. Your experience doesn’t sound very supportive. Luckily you have met some friends there! I only wonder why the other women didn’t decide to do things they wanted to but simply got “hypnotised” by this woman…
    The cake looks lovely!

  10. I haven’t heard of Mother’s Groups is this something specific to US? I live in NY at the moment, but I am from Eastern Europe and there is no such thing there, well, mothers meet, but is not like an official group! I love this cake, it looks very, very moist, and I am a big fan of moist cakes!

  11. Delicious but also so beautiful photographs… Thanks and Love, nia

  12. I ahevnt had kids yet so I cant answer your question, but I guesse I wouldnt enjoy mother groups. Its simply not my thing. That lady reminds me of somebody I knew and who I totaly disliked. She had a daughter in my age who was realy a freaking insulting person. Well her mother was pretty much the same, actualy she never changed. comes up with her mercedes and animal fur and wants 30 mins special treatment in each shop.

    Hummingbird Cake? never heard before. sounds and looks like an exotic treat! thx for sharing your story and this gorgeous cake!

  13. What a cute name for a cake! It’s so easy , I’m definitely going to make it. I didnt go to the mothers group, I was sort of afraid i guess.. Although I have mothers internet friends but this is a different thing..

  14. I had my child by last-minute Caesarian in Mexico, where they piped in the music to “Besa me Mucho” as they sewed me up. What a memory. Mothers’ groups like you experienced aren’t common here–perhaps I should be thankful for that!

    The Hummingbird Cake makes me think of my late mother–it was one of her favorites. Thanks for the smile.

  15. Wow, you certainly have had your share of ‘dud’ friends, Charlie. That hummingbird cake sounds delicious.

  16. Self-important people are unbearable. Don’t you wish now that when she said she was from “that family,” you had said, “Who? Never heard of them!”

  17. I’ve never tried a hummingbird cake but it sounds delicious! Bananas, coconut, pineapple, and cinnamon? YUM! As bad as that Mothers’ Group was, you did get 2 friends from it. That’s a pretty good rate of return. And the thought of someone having children named Beyonce and Gaga has put a smile on my face. 🙂

  18. Gosh! This cake looks great, and that woman sounds mean!!!

  19. No kids in this home … but I’ll take some dessert please.

  20. Hummingbird is my grandma’s favourite cake. Actually by strange coincidence my man requested pizza with pineapple for dinner tonight so I’m going to have most of a tin of pineapple just sitting there waiting to be made into something delicious. It must be fate!

    I think people like Tereeeeze are the reason my parents left Sydney! It’s wonderful that you still managed to meet people even despite her takeover methods.

  21. Lovely cake … miserable mother’s group. Never had a baby so I was denied the opportunity to experience this type of gathering.

  22. I have never come across this cake. Has interesting flavours, would love to try it.
    Poor ex-husband, some of his skills may have gotten rusty from staying at home, and he has a big gap in his CV.

  23. I’ve always wanted a good recipe for Hummingbird Cake. Qi
    I’m still friends with a couple of women from my mothers group.

  24. I was too busy working to go to a mother’s group and didn’t know of any anyway – but we did go to classes to learn how to breathe and stuff while I was pregnant and became good friends with a couple we met there. Our son and their daughter became good friends until the other family moved away. The cake looks yummy.

  25. I was also working and didn’t have a mother’s group of any kind. The year I retired a former student’s mom kindly invited me to their weekly coffee. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t know any of the mothers in our neighborhood… thank goodness she was kind-hearted, we’ve been friends for years! This is just the prettiest cake for a mother’s get-together or any get-together for that matter. I love how feminine and delicate it looks and the pineapple would make it so moist!

  26. the hummingbird cake looks scrumptuous… esp love the almonds & pineapple in it. reading the writeup i kept wondering why the rest of u dint boycot her & her plans & meet up seperately for a second mother’s group, im sure that would have worked out wonderfully. anyways, hope u had a better mothers group wth ur next kid 🙂

  27. So pretty and looks delicious! I’ve never made Humingbird cake, but I’ve wanted to so I really must try this. Thanks for the good recipe! And as for your experience with the Mother’s Group, UGH!!! What a drag that she was so bossy and totally didn’t comprehend normal people. As if you wanted to hear all about her within the first minute! I’ve had some great Mother’s Group experiences. I’m glad that you at least made some friends through it!!

  28. Well, doesn’t she (Te-RAISE!) sound like an absolute charmer. People like that are so annoying – they just live in their own little world.

    Are you on a cake-making spree at the moment Charlie? Two fabulous cakes in two posts? I’d love to be living in your house!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’m very haphazard with my cooking and tend to go through phases. A while ago it was Thai and before that it was recipes from the Titanic and yep, at the moment it seems to be baking. xx

  29. Always one of my favourites, such a great flavour mix Yumm…
    We had one of those types of mums at our group to! All full of her investments and designer clothes. My revenge was that my daughter did everything ‘first’, sitting, teething, crawling… It drove her wild!

  30. The cake looks beautiful – great photos too. The woman sounds like a pretentious pain in the bum. Shame you didn’t all tell her to kick rocks and do what you wanted. Feel sorry for the poor fellow she was married to.

  31. I really enjoyed this post, was glued to it till the end, curious to see what was going to happen. When my first child was born, a special project funded by the Municipality was launched in the various local vaccination offices spread around town. It was a group for new mothers, a place they could meet and talk and receive help and guidance from psychologists and pediatricians. I went, like most of the other moms, more to get out of the house and meet girls in my situation than for advice, although they were very helpful when I had any questions. We all came to look forward to those two hours a week and stayed on until the children turned one or we went back to work. At that point it would have been someone else’s turn to take our places, but unfortunately there were no more funds and the program was cancelled. We battled long and hard to keep this project alive but unfortunately the city had limited funds and it was cancelled forever. My daughter grew up with these boys and girls (since we all live in the same general neighborhood) and they have been friends since day one. All us parents also became friends and just this Saturday a whole bunch of us had a picnic at the park to celebrate the first spring weather. I am good friends with many of these women and they have changed my life.

  32. No I never got into the Mothers Group thing. I was too shy really, which was a shame as I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby and it was quite a lonely time. That being said by number 2 and 3 I was in good company. I do have regrets when I hear woman talk about the great time they had at Mothers Group. Maybe I should have one more then 🙂 xx

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