Hummingbird in a Cage

This recipe was once destined for the pages of my baking book, but because of limited space it was only realized as a sketch – until now!  
I hope you’ll enjoy my take on this popular southern dessert called Hummingbird Cake. The “cage” is made of deep amber hard caramel pieces that are pressed into the top of the cake.  
A single walnut halve is placed in the top center of the cake inside the “cage” to represent a hummingbird. 

3 cups cake flour (sifted all-purpose may be used)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large slightly over-ripe bananas, chopped
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven  to 350°. Lightly grease and flour three 6-inch (pictured) or two 9-inch round cake pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir or whisk (by hand, not with an electric mixer!) the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined.  
Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula just until well combined.  Do not over mix. Fold in the walnuts. Spread evenly into the pans.
Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a piece of parchment or wax paper. 
Invert them onto a cooling rack so the cakes are right-side up.  Cool completely.
The cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored, uncovered in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

1 cup white chocolate morsels
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup butter, softened 
3 cups powdered sugar

Place white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted and smooth.  Set aside.
Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl; beat at high speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  
Add melted chocolate; beat well. Gradually add in powdered sugar, beating at low speed at first, then increasing to medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency. 
Frost cooled cake layers. 

Caramel cage pieces:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 walnut halve(for garnish)

Fold a large piece of baking parchment over the bottom dome of an 8 or 9-inch heat-proof bowl.  Place the bowl dome-side-up on another piece of parchment.
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. 
Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. 
Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, deep amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking.  
Drizzle caramel from the tip of a metal spoon onto and over the entire surface of the parchment dome.  
Repeat until all the caramel is used.  Let caramel harden, then break caramel pieces off the parchment paper in tall shards.  
Press hard caramel pieces into the top of the cake, so that the curved pieces are pointing inward to create a “cage”.   
Place a single walnut halve in the center of the cake to represent the “hummingbird”.