Saturday, March 08, 2008

State by State - Maryland: Smith Island Cake

I'm afraid you might begin to think I should have called this series State by State Sweets, but let me regale you with one more sweetie from Maryland - the Smith Island Cake. On Smith Island, these cakes are simply called layer cakes. They can come in just about any flavor, but they're stacked 8, 10, or even 12 layers high - perfect for those who want a little cake with their frosting ;)

Since I have no photo, before we go any further, you must click on over here to get a sense of the proportions. While you're there, take a look at that frosting recipe - doesn't that add up to four pounds of frosting?? Actually, other photos of Smith Island cakes I've seen look more like the tortes they're sometimes compared to, with relatively thin layers of frosting between the cake layers.

Tom Horton's, An Island Out of Time, describes life on the island and introduces the reader to some of its inhabitants, including Mary Ada Marshall. With Smith Island Cake currently in the running for Maryland's state dessert, Mary Ada and her 8-layer cake traveled to Baltimore for a spot on yesterday's morning news. I was thrilled to find this video of the segment - Mary Ada is charming. When asked how long it takes to make one she says, "Some women it might take an hour. I can make one in about 25 minutes." She's not exaggerating either - Tom Horton says he timed her and she could bake and ice an 8-layer cake, wash the pans and put them away in 20 minutes. I wish!

No word yet as to whether the legislature will bestow the title of State Dessert on the Smith Island Cake, but I promise I'll keep you posted!

12 comments:

Nupur said...

What?! Make that beautiful layered confection in 25 minutes! Now that's what I call superhuman powers :)
It was lovely to hear about this island and its tiny community, Cathy. Do you plan to take a trip there and taste the cake for yourself? Have a lovely Sunday!

Rachel said...

Making a yummy Smith Island cake is on my to do list.

rowena said...

That was a most pleasant video with Mary Ada. Loved her sense of humour too!

You know, I haven't seen anything over a single layer cake in ages...they just don't seem to want to stack'em like how we do in the states. I liked Mary's tip on baking the layers in several pans - explains how she was able to bake and decorate in such a small amount of time!

Cathy said...

Hi Nupur! I have to say I'm really intrigued by Smith Island and I do hope to visit there someday. In the meantime, I can read about it though - I had started Tom Horton's book quite some time ago but never finished it. I got it out of the library again and will be digging in with renewed interest!

Hi Rachel! It would be fun to try - maybe sometime when I need to make a cake anyway... can't wait to see yours!!

Hi Rowena! It was so interesting to see her after having read about her! Did you read the recipe? To tell if the cake is done, hold it up to your ear - if it doesn't sizzle it's done. And... don't worry if the cake tears when you're removing the pan, no one will notice anyway. I love it!

rowena said...

Hi again Cathy,
No, I did not read the recipe (I was more awestruck by the size of the cake!) so I went back there to read it for myself. Love it!

"La Patatina" says thank you very much for the birthday wishes!!

Anonymous said...

I love the instruction to hold the cake to your ear and listen for sizzling sounds to know if it is done!

I just know I'd burn my ear off.

michelle @ TNS said...

just...whoa. that's one cake that's not F'ing around.

DoughGirl said...

I have wanted to make a Smith Island cake for the past year...ever since I had one myself. I'm definitely going to add that to my "to-bake" list this week!

Mark Wood said...

TRIED MY FIRST SMITH ISLAND CAKE THIS WEEKEND. ABSOLUTELY YUMMY...MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH! LITTLE PRICEY BUT WELL WORTH EVERY CENT!

The Town Criers said...

I just ate it today (we were at Smith Island) and it was incredible. I was googling for the recipe and found your blog. Seriously, so good. And while we were walking around the island, we saw a building that had a sign in the window that said "Smith Island Cake Company coming soon." I wonder if they'll ship?

I'm attempting to remake it this weekend. I have a bunch of pictures I took of the cake before I ate our slice if you want them.

Anonymous said...

As a come=over, too bad the Smith Island Cake Company....coming soon, isn't going to have cakes made by native Smith Islanders. Hope they local woman that have been baking these cakes most of their lives won't be hurt by the greed of non locals trying to profit from the hard working born and bread Smith Island woman that graciously shared their Smith Island cakes with the rest of the country.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Baltimore area and had this cake for the first time 2 weeks ago. Someone brought it into work for a party. All I can say is WOW.. that was some of the best cake I ever had the pleasure of tasting. My hats off to the women of Smith Island. Whatever you do "Don't stop baking"