A Decadent Southern Dessert Gets a Healthy Makeover

Whole grains complement fresh fruit and cream cheese frosting in this popular treat.

Before fall officially starts, we’re looking to the South to leverage the last gifts of summer. We’ve partnered with Sarah Forte of Sprouted Kitchen to bring you recipes, ideas, and tips inspired by the region’s cooking traditions.

With its banana chunks and cream cheese frosting, this classic southern treat is a perennial favorite. Similar to a carrot cake, the bits of fruit and nuts keep it moist, and it’s the perfect vehicle for the tangy frosting. Compared with several classic versions of this recipe, this one includes less sugar; in addition, the whole grain flours make the cupcakes slightly healthier.

The mixture of spelt and oat flour closely mimics all-purpose flours, and the flaxmeal adds a little more fiber. The whole grains make for a heartier texture not quite as light as white flour would create, but they are sweet and decadent enough that most people likely wouldn’t notice. Without the frosting, these would easily pass for a morning muffin or even baked into a larger loaf.


Pan Perfect

Bake these treats to their ideal consistency with the Perfect Taste™ Dual Convection.

Learn More

Most hummingbird cakes are built in three layers, but with a cupcake we can exercise more portion control—and they still present well. If you are serving a crowd or want to make them for a party, you could double this recipe to produce three eight-inch rounds for a full cake.

These are best the day they are made but if time is limited, you can make the frosting and cupcakes a day in advance, then frost them before serving. (The frosting is more forgiving with advance prep, by the way). Whether for a kids’ birthday, bridal or baby showers, or a meal with the family, these are crowd-pleasers no matter the occasion.

Whole Grain Hummingbird Cupcakes

“Because the batter is so moist from the fruit, I like to grease the muffin tin instead of using liners, because they stick to the cupcake.” – Sara Forte 

Servings: 12



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar


2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup crushed pineapple and its juice

1 cup chopped and lightly smashed banana (about 2 large bananas)

1 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup oat flour

2 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup muscavado or brown sugar

1/2 cup natural cane sugar

1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


For the frosting:

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth and well mixed. Add vanilla and powder sugar and beat again for another minute. Frosting can be made up to a week in advance and stored chilled; bring it to room temperature before frosting.


For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin generously or fill with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and oil together. Add vanilla, pineapple and banana, and mix again.

In another bowl, mix spelt flour, oat flour, ground flaxseed, baking soda, muscavado or brown sugar, cane sugar, pecans, cinnamon and sea salt. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and let sit for a few minutes. Spoon batter into muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake in upper third of oven 20-24 minutes, until firm and golden on top. Remove and cool completely. Frost generously and sprinkle with pecan pieces for garnish. 

More Recipes