Friday, April 18, 2008

Smith Island Ten-Layer Cake

As my fellow blogger, Cathy of My Little Kitchen reported a few weeks ago, the Smith Island Ten-Layer Cake was nominated to the Maryland General Assembly in a bill to be named as the official Maryland State Dessert. I just read in the Carroll County Times yesterday that the bill was successful! I am happy to provide you with a recipe for the newly appointed Maryland State dessert. As mentioned in the Carroll County Times, the cake's presentation seems to be more important than the recipe itself. Some of the recent write-ups on this dessert indicate that you could use a box cake mix in place of the recipe and then make the frosting and prepare it in its signature 10 layers. I would think that making the 10-layer cake from scratch would definitely take more time but that it would be a good investment because your cake would be an authentic Smith Island Ten-Layer Cake. No one seems to know when the first Smith Island 10-Layer Cake first came out of the oven but it has been around for at least 4 generations. Apparently, on Smith Island this cake is so common that it is just referred to as a "layer cake." Here is the recipe I found for the Smith Island Ten-Layer Cake.

Smith Island 10-Layer Cake

For the cake:

2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup water

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Mix into egg mixture one cup at a time.

With mixer running, slowly pour in the evaporated milk, then vanilla and water. Mix just until uniform.

Put 3 serving spoons full of batter in each of 10 lightly greased 9-inch pans, using the back of the spoon to spread evenly. Bake 3 layers at a time on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. A layer is done when you hold it near your ear and you don't hear it sizzle.

Start making the icing when the first layer goes into the oven.

Let the layers cool a couple of minutes in the pans. Put the cake together as the layers are finished. Run a spatula around the edge of the pan and ease the layer out of the pan. Don't worry if it tears; no one will notice when the cake is finished. Use two or three serving spoonfuls of icing between the layers. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the icing. Push icing that runs onto the plate back into the cake.

To Frost the Cake:

Take 1 slightly cooled layer and spread with cooled frosting. Add crushed candy randomly on layer. (Whatever your favorite is -- candy is optional as well.)

Add next layers, frosting, candy and repeat process until the 10th layer. Do not add candy to the final layer.

Finish frosting the cake and sides. You may have to wait to ice the top and sides until the icing cools.

Chocolate Icing for 10-Layer Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla

Put sugar and evaporated milk in a medium pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until warm. Add chocolate and cook to melt. Add butter and melt. Cook over medium heat at a slow boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add vanilla. Icing will be thin but thickens as it cools.

If you haven't seen a picture of this cake, you need to click on the link I put on the title of the recipe. It is one enormous cake. The State of Maryland may be small but we have one gigantic state dessert. What does that say about Maryland, I wonder?

If you ask me, this cake sounds like quite a bit of work. It seems to me that you would be eating mostly icing but for the chocoholic in me, that's o.k. If you want to see an authentic Smith Island lady named Mary Ada who bakes these cakes all the time, click here to watch a video of her that was on WJZ news last month. It is interesting that she can bake this cake and have everything cleaned up, washed and put away within 20 minutes! I find that amazing. I probably couldn't even have the batter ready for baking in 20 minutes.

The Creative Cook