Smith Island Cake Recipe (Blissful Slice of Paradise)

Smith Island Cake Recipe (Blissful Slice of Paradise)
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Maryland Smith Island Cake Recipe
This cake is a real showstopper, boasting nine layers of scrumptious yellow cake sandwiched between layers of rich chocolate icing. Picture this: the chocolate goodness seeping down into each layer, making the whole cake incredibly moist and downright delightful. And here's a fun tip – throw on some sprinkles to take your cake experience to a whole new level of special! Trust me, it's a taste sensation you won't want to miss!

Welcome to the sweet and indulgent world of Smith Island cake – Maryland’s best-kept dessert secret! If you’re not a Maryland native, chances are you haven’t stumbled upon this delectable treat. Even for locals, the knowledge of Smith Island cake might be a bit elusive. I, too, was introduced to this culinary gem when a reader suggested giving it a try. After some exploration, recipe testing, and of course, plenty of taste testing, I’m thrilled to share with you a homemade version of the official dessert of Maryland – the Smith Island cake. Notably, only a handful of states boast an official state dessert, making this cake extra special!

Nestled on the Chesapeake Bay between Maryland and Virginia, Smith Island is the birthplace of this culinary masterpiece. Historically, locals would send these cakes with watermen during the autumn oyster harvest, ensuring a sweet taste of home during their endeavors. What sets this cake apart is its unique frosting – no buttercream here, but a luscious layer of fudge that stands the test of time. The modern Smith Island cake boasts a towering structure with 8-14 ultra-thin layers, featuring a variety of flavors like lemon, carrot cake, coconut, and strawberry. In our rendition, we’re sticking to the classic – a moist yellow cake generously frosted with irresistible chocolate fudge. And while sprinkles are optional, I always advocate for a little sprinkle of rainbow happiness. It will be a cherry over the cake if you serve it with my Fruit Salad with Whipped Cream.

If there’s one thing to highlight about Smith Island cake, it’s the decadent moisture that sets it apart. No other cake on the planet can rival its moistness. The rich chocolate icing gracefully seeps into the pencil-thin cake layers, creating an unparalleled texture. Starting with a moist yellow cake ensures that each bite is a tender and moist experience that is simply unmatched. So, let’s embark on a delightful journey into the heart of Maryland’s culinary heritage with our homemade Smith Island cake – a slice of pure indulgence!

Overview: How To Make Smith Island Cake?

Overview How To Make Smith Island Cake

Let’s embark on the delightful journey of crafting the iconic Smith Island cake in the comfort of your own kitchen! This multi-layered masterpiece hails from the shores of Smith Island, Maryland, and we’re about to recreate its magic. Brace yourself for an indulgent experience as we dive into the world of moist yellow cake layered with rich chocolate fudge icing.

Before diving into the cake batter, let’s start with the star of the show – the chocolate icing. In a saucepan, melt together unsalted butter, bittersweet chocolate, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and a touch of corn syrup for that irresistible shine. Stirring constantly, let the mixture come to a boil, then add a hint of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt for that perfect balance. Allow this heavenly concoction to cool and thicken for 1-2 hours, reaching a spreadable consistency that will elevate our cake to new heights.

Now, onto the cake layers. Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together sifted all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, beat softened butter and granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and then incorporate vanilla extract. Alternately add the dry ingredients and room-temperature buttermilk to the batter, creating a velvety and slightly thick consistency.

Pouring slightly less than 1 cup of batter into each cake pan, bake for a quick 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The thin layers should cool for about 45 minutes before assembly. Now, the fun part – stacking! Spread a generous layer of the cooled chocolate icing between each layer, allowing it to spill over the sides for a beautifully messy look. Top it off with rainbow sprinkles if you fancy.

Let your masterpiece rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and savoring the decadence. Whether you enjoy it fresh or store it for later, this homemade Smith Island cake is a celebration of flavors that capture the essence of Maryland’s sweet tradition. Get ready to impress your taste buds with this luscious creation!

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Smith Island Cake Recipe (Blissful Slice of Paradise)

Maryland Smith Island Cake Recipe

This cake is a real showstopper, boasting nine layers of scrumptious yellow cake sandwiched between layers of rich chocolate icing. Picture this: the chocolate goodness seeping down into each layer, making the whole cake incredibly moist and downright delightful. And here's a fun tip – throw on some sprinkles to take your cake experience to a whole new level of special! Trust me, it's a taste sensation you won't want to miss!
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Calories: 845kcal
Author: Anne Carter
Servings: 12


  • Mixing Bowls
  • Hand Whisk
  • Spoons
  • Cake Pans
  • Cooking spray


Chocolate Icing

  • Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (335g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup (optional, for shine)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream


  • 3 and 3/4 cups (443g) sifted all-purpose flour* (spooned & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*


  • Combine cream and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers.Pour the hot mixture over chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, add salt, and let it sit for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk until smooth and cool to room temperature (approximately 1 hour).Chill in the refrigerator until thickened and spreadable (about 45 minutes), stirring halfway through.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease nine 8 1/2-inch round disposable cake pans and line them with parchment paper.Beat butter until creamy, add sugar gradually, and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk in 3 batches.
  • Divide batter evenly among the pans and smooth with an offset spatula.Bake in batches until a toothpick comes out clean (12 to 14 minutes).Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely (about 20 minutes).
  • Place 1 cake layer on an 8-inch round cake board and spread with 1/3 cup icing. Top with another layer and repeat with remaining layers and icing. Coat the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of icing. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Place the chilled cake on a wire rack over a baking pan.Microwave reserved icing in intervals until smooth and pourable (60 to 90 seconds).Pour icing over the cake in a steady stream, starting at the center and moving to the edges.Smooth out the sides and fill any gaps with an offset spatula.
  • Chill the cake in the refrigerator until set (about 1 hour).Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate.Serve the cake at room temperature. Enjoy your delicious homemade treat!


  1. Make-Ahead Tips:
    • Bake and cool the cake layers in advance, covering them tightly at room temperature overnight.
    • The icing can be prepared ahead and refrigerated; allow it to soften at room temperature for an hour before use.
    • Assembled cake can be frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving. Fresh is best!
  2. Tools You’ll Need:
    • Medium saucepan, 9-inch round cake pans, whisk, glass mixing bowl, electric mixer (handheld or stand), cake turntable, and a cake carrier for storage.
  3. Layering Technique:
    • Bake the 9 cake layers individually instead of thick cakes, ensuring even baking.
    • Baking each layer takes about 12 minutes, and baking 3 at a time finishes in less than 40 minutes.
    • This method prevents over or under-baking and ensures even layers. Adjust based on available cake pans.


Calories: 845kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 56g
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Storage and Managing Leftovers!

  • Due to the rich fudge frosting, it’s advisable to store Smith Island Cake in the refrigerator. Place the cake in an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent the cake from absorbing any odors in the fridge.
  • Light and air can affect the quality of the cake. Store the cake in a cool, dark place in the refrigerator. If possible, keep it on a shelf away from strong-smelling foods to prevent any flavor transfer.
  • If you’re not planning to consume the entire cake at once, consider cutting it into slices before storing it. This makes it easier to take out individual servings without exposing the entire cake to air each time.
  • If you need to store the cake for an extended period, consider freezing it. Wrap the individual slices or the entire cake tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Label the package with the date to keep track of its freshness. Frozen Smith Island Cake can typically last for a few months.
  • If you plan to consume the cake within a day or two, it can be kept at room temperature, but this is not recommended for extended periods due to the perishable nature of the frosting. Ensure it is covered with a cake dome or plastic wrap to protect it from drying out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use a different frosting for the Smith Island Cake?

A: Smith Island Cake features a chocolate fudge frosting, you can get creative and use other frostings like vanilla, cream cheese, or flavored buttercream according to your preference.

Q: Can I substitute buttermilk in the recipe?

A: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.

Q: How long can I keep Smith Island Cake in the refrigerator?

A: Properly stored, Smith Island Cake can last in the refrigerator for up to a week. If freezing, it can be stored for a few months.

Q: Can I store Smith Island Cake at room temperature?

A: While it’s fine to keep the cake at room temperature for a day or two, due to the frosting’s perishable nature, it’s recommended to refrigerate for longer storage.

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