Originating in the Caribbean, hummingbird cake boasts tropical banana and bright pineapple flavors. Our streusel-topped twist on the traditional recipe has a secret ingredient to its sweet success—naturally sweet and delicious prunes. Using the highest-quality dried fruit from California Prunes, our Hummingbird-Prune Coffee Cake has less added sugar, while prunes boost nutritional content and flavor. Swapping prune puree for sugar is a baking trick you won’t want to miss. With a pecan streusel topping and optional Cream Cheese Glaze, the only thing missing is a warm mug of freshly brewed coffee.
When it comes to dried fruit, the California Prune is a symbol of excellence. California’s lush valleys and ideal weather conditions create the perfect environment for plum trees, which fill with jewels of deep purple fruit. Once the plums fully ripen, each tree is hand-tended with care, and the fruit is gently dried at its prime. The combination of environment, care, and the art of processing brings you the California Prune—a choice baking ingredient that is perfect for nutritional substitutions, adding depth of flavor and natural sweetness. In fact, using pureed prunes can be a great way to reduce sugar, oil, or eggs. Want to learn more? Scroll past the recipe to see our ultimate guide, with tips and tricks from our Test Kitchen, on using California Prunes to give your baked goods the ultimate nutritional makeover!
Learn more about California Prunes online at californiaprunes.org and pick them up in your local grocery store in various forms including whole prunes, pitted prunes, diced prunes, and prune juice.
Don’t miss our giveaway with California Prunes on Instagram for your chance to win delicious California Prunes, our Bake From Scratch: Volume Five cookbook, and baking tools! The giveaway closes on April 30, 2021.
- ⅓ cup (42 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10 minutes
- ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) vanilla extract
- ½ cup (57 grams) chopped raw pecans
- 4 ounces (113 grams) roughly chopped prunes (about ½ cup lightly packed)
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) boiling water (see Note)
- ½ cup (122 grams) drained crushed pineapple
- ½ cup (114 grams) mashed ripe banana
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10 minutes
- ⅓ cup (73 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg (50 grams), room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1¾ teaspoons (8.75 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup (55 grams) lightly packed ¼-inch-chopped prunes
- ¼ cup (28 grams) finely chopped toasted pecans
- Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe follows) (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray with flour. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
- For topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add melted butter and vanilla; stir until well combined. Stir in pecans. Set aside until ready to use.
- For batter: In a medium heatproof bowl, place roughly chopped prunes; pour in ⅓ cup (80 grams) boiling water, pressing down prunes until mostly submerged. Let stand for 15 minutes.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse prune mixture until a paste forms. (It’s OK if flecks of prune remain.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together prune paste, pineapple, banana, melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually stir flour mixture into prune mixture just until barely combined. Fold in ¼-inch-chopped prunes and pecans until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan; crumble topping evenly over batter as desired.
- Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. (Topping may look a bit buttery; this will absorb into cake while cooling.) Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove sides of pan; let cool completely on pan base on a wire rack.
- Spoon Cream Cheese Glaze (if using) into a pastry bag; cut a ¼-inch opening in tip, and drizzle over cake just before serving.
- 2 ounces (57 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1½ tablespoons (22.5 grams) water, room temperature
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a small bowl, stir cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar, 1½ tablespoons (22.5 grams) water, and salt until smooth and well combined. Use immediately.
Prunes are a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with sorbitol and fiber, they can help bind and keep baked goods moist. Their natural sugar content can also help yield golden brown, sweet baked goods with less added sugar.
Choosing the Right Recipe
To get the most out of your substitutions, baked goods like one-bowl cakes, quick breads, brownies, and muffins tend to be the best candidates for a prune purée swap. Look for simple stir-together recipes. These recipes don’t rely on creaming sugar and fat (such as butter) first, which incorporates air and adds volume, but rather they utilize sugar for sweetness, color, and texture. This allows us to replace added sugar without structurally compromising our baked goods.
Making the Swap
Prune purée is a multitalented baking substitute. With some home testing and tinkering, you can often use it to replace sugar, eggs, or fat. Here are some tips on specific substitutions.
Hey, sugar, sugar! Use prune purée to replace anywhere from one-third to half of the sugar in a recipe.
Eggs, eggcetera. Prune purée can also be used to reduce eggs in a recipe. To replace 1 large egg, ¼ cup prune purée can do the trick, but keep in mind that this swap works best in recipes that call for no more than 3 large eggs.
Here’s the skinny. To cut down on fat, replace up to half of the butter or oil with prune purée.
Prune Purée Success
Remember a few variables to get the most out of your prune purée swaps.
Focus on one factor. For example, if reducing sugar, don’t try to also reduce fat. Ingredients like sugar, eggs, and fat play more than one important role in baking, from flavor to texture. Trying to adjust too much at once can lead to subpar end products and make it confusing to make future adjustments, if necessary, to the recipe.
If replacing sugar and your recipe calls for a liquid like water or milk, you may want to scale back your liquid by 25% to start. For some recipes, though, you may need to get creative. Our original Hummingbird Coffee Cake didn’t have any additional liquid; since prune purée can also replace an egg, we reduced the original recipe by 1 egg.
Due to the moisture and weight of the prune purée, you may need to increase the leaven in your recipe slightly to prevent your baked goods from coming out dense.
Also, keep in mind that beyond added flavor, prunes may change the color of your baked goods, often darkening the final product.
To get the best texture, follow some simple steps. We soak our prunes in boiling water for 15 minutes, making sure they’re mostly submerged. This allows prunes to plump, soften, and rehydrate, making puréeing in a food processor quick, simple, and silky smooth. For this recipe, we used about 1½ to 2 parts prune to 1 part water. Depending on the recipe, you may want to add more or less water to adjust the consistency of your purée.
Bake, Taste, and Adjust
With substitutions, your home kitchen transforms into a multilevel test kitchen where you are the test kitchen director, pastry chef, and taste tester! Bake your recipe, give it a taste, and make a note of what future adjustments may be necessary. Remember that recipe ingredient swaps start out as estimates and results may vary, but research never tasted so good.