Image: Cook's Country
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]