Thursday, July 19, 2012

Smith Island Cake

Smith Island cake is the official state dessert of Maryland. What sets this cake apart from other cakes is it's pencil-thin layers combined with a fudgy frosting. There are many different varieties of this multi-layered cake; like Red Velvet, Peanut Butter and Coconut Cream. Smith Island cakes can be ordered online from Smith Island Baking Company and The Original Smith Island Cake Company.

I just recently ordered Lucie Snodgrass's cookbook Dishing Up Maryland. The book touches on the Smith Island cake with a thirteenth-generation Smith Islander named Susan Evans. Susan has been making Smith Island cakes for years.
Lore has it that the original families baked [the first Smith Island cake], although it only had four layers at the time. Over the years the height of the cake grew as the women competed against each other to see who could make the most layers. Today, Smith Island Cakes most commonly vary from eight to eleven layers,, depending on who's making it... Assembling and icing the cake can be tricky and takes years of practice, Evans says. She learned to make the cake from her mother, who learned form her mother's mother, and so on. "It's an island thing," Evans says, shrugging. "They've always been made, and every woman knows how to make one." [Snodgrass 2010: 273]
If you want to take a stab at making a homemade Smith Island cake, this Layer Cake Slicing Kit would certainly help to cut those tricky layers. Here is Mrs. Kitching's Original Recipe for Smith Island cake. Have you had Smith Island cake?

18 comments:

Cara said...

that cake looks INSANELY good!!

Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

Oh wow, that looks so yummy!

Nelle Somerville said...

I love them and just saw a very cute vintage tin that I must post for you. See Twitter in a minute. xoxo

Annie said...

Grew up on those. I'm obsessed. I had one shipped to me for Kevin's birthday a couple of years ago.

Portuguese Prepster said...

I love Smith Island cake! I've always thought it would be too complicated to make myself but that handy little tool could make things much easier!

I Do Declare said...

I need to get that cookbook! I feel like I learn so much about being a Marylander from you!

Baltimore Prep said...

They are so delicious but I am a bit too intimidated to create my own! I enjoyed some last month when I was in St. Michael's. We served Smith Island cake at our rehearsal dinner last year!

Summer is a Verb said...

Have you ever been to Smith Island? It's suuumpthin' else. Of course, that's prob what the natives were saying about me when I disembarked sporting needlepoint mules and a navy linen blazer w/an Hermès pochette peeking outta the breast pocket ;)

Sass and Precision said...

Mmm Smith Island Cake! We have one coming from the West OC company this weekend for my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary :) It's a staple dessert!

Wendy said...

While slicing the layers is an option, traditionally each of the layers is baked separately. Slicing would create a crumb nightmare. Since you don't put very much batter in the bottom of the pan, the layers are done in a short period of time. You don't need a lot of pans to do them. I typically use four pans and just do a quick clean up between sets of layers. Sounds harder than it is. Of course, if you want the cake without the baking, you can order one directly from the island at www.smithislandbakingco.com or one of the other local bakerys that specialize in Smith Island Cakes listed on the page with the recipe.

Rianna O'Brien said...

Smith Island Cake is soo good! And it is somewhat hard to find at local restaurants! Isn't Dishing Up Maryland awesome??

Tammy B said...

That cakes looks yummy! My grandmother used to make 7 layer apple cakes. She baked each layer separately in iron skillets. I can taste that apple cake right now.

Shel said...

EAS, Mrs. Kitching's granddaughter was my sorority sister and my little in college. Such a fun place to visit.
Michele

Melissa said...

I've never heard of this before...but it looks so good! I wouldn't mind trying a coconut cream one.

Meg said...

This has been on my list of things to try. I like Wendy's tip.

lizziefitz said...

My Parents live on Maryland's Eastern shore. Smith Island cake is a staple at any of our family get togethers . Happy Birthday JCW!

Worthington said...

Love me a Smith Island cake. So good!!

Pigtown*Design said...

I spent lots of time on those islands when I worked at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation but never had Smith Island cake there. I made it several summers ago and did it Wendy's way. It makes icing it a lot easier. Fewer crumbs.