Hummingbird IPA Cake with Caramel Buttercream

The tropical flavors of banana and coconut are enhanced by the assertive, bitter hops in an IPA, while caramel and poppy seeds in the frosting add sweet toasty notes. This cake is great for a party of beer-lovers or for anyone who appreciates a nuanced dessert with a little bite.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 50 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 50 min
  • Yield: 16 to 20 servings
Save Recipe

Ingredients

Frosting:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, lightly toasted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cake:

Unsalted butter, for greasing the pans

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan (see Cook's Note)

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 cup mashed ripe banana (from about 3 medium bananas)

2/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

One 12-ounce bottle IPA 

Directions

  1. For the frosting: Combine the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, swirling the skillet, until the syrup turns deep amber brown (don't stir!). Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream. Once the bubbling subsides, stir the cream until the caramel dissolves and you have a thick caramel sauce.
  2. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. 
  3. For the cake: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. 
  4. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl until evenly combined, then add the coconut and walnuts and toss again. In another bowl, whisk the bananas, oil, both sugars, vanilla, eggs and beer until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter just comes together. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, then bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. 
  5. Cool the cakes in their pans for 30 minutes, then invert them onto a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper to let them cool completely.
  6. Remove the caramel sauce from the refrigerator and let stand for 20 minutes to come to room temperature. Beat the butter for the frosting with an electric mixer on medium speed until lightened and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, poppy seeds, vanilla and salt and beat until evenly incorporated. Add the caramel sauce and beat until the frosting is fluffy and light, about 3 minutes.
  7. Put a cake layer on a cake plate, then spread about 1 cup of the frosting over it with an offset spatula or butter knife. Top with the second cake layer, then scrape the remaining frosting on top. Spread it evenly over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting has firmed, at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, before serving.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

Get the Recipe

Perfect Cranberry Sauce

This ruby-hued sauce is a breeze to make with either fresh or frozen fruit.

Old-Fashioned Banana Cake

Hummingbird Cake

3-Ingredient Banana Icebox Cake

Tapioca Cake

Jamaican Coffee Cake

White Coconut Cake

Easter Bunny Cake

German Wedding Cake