There are days when you just need to treat yourself with a chocolate cake……….
This is my version of the legendary Smith Island Cake.
Originally settled in the 1600s, Smith Island, Maryland, is the home to Maryland’s State Dessert, since 2008. Smith Island is an inhabited island, reachable only by boat. Straddling the Maryland – Virginia line, Smith Island is twelve miles west of Crisfield in Somerset County and 95 miles south of Baltimore.
Smith Island has been home to watermen and their families for centuries. Given their isolation, an island culture and tradition developed and has been preserved, including their penchant for multi-layered cakes.Traditionally, the cake consists of eight to twelve layers of yellow cake with chocolate frosting between each layer and slathered over the whole. However, many variations have evolved, both in the flavors for frosting and the cake itself.
More than likely, the Smith Island Cake seems to be German in origin. It is similar to Prinzregententorte, a Bavarian cake that consists of at least six thin layers of sponge cake inter laid with chocolate buttercream. The exterior is covered in a dark chocolate glaze. A variation of the Prinzregententorte is that apricot jam may be added to the topmost layer, and the whole cake is covered in dark chocolate.The cake is named after Prince Regent Luitpold, who was Prince Regent of Bavaria beginning in 1886. Its exact origin remains in dispute; among those claimed as its creators are the prince regent’s cook, Johann Rottenhoeffer, the baker Anton Seidl, and the baking firm of Heinrich Georg Erbshäuser.
The Prinzregententorte is very popular in Bavaria, available in cake shops all year round.
Beginning in the 1800s, Smith Islanders would send these cakes with the watermen on the Autumn oyster harvest. Over the years, bakers began using fudge instead of buttercream frostings, as cakes frosted with fudge lasted much longer than cakes with other frostings. The cake is often made using a commercial cake mix but with unique additions such as condensed milk. It can also be made from scratch using flour.The most common flavor is yellow cake with chocolate icing but other flavors such as coconut, fig, strawberry, lemon, and orange are also common. Known simply as the Smith Island Cake, the dessert is baked for any occasion and not reserved only for holidays.
My version features a yellow sponge cake with dark chocolate icing. I kept it really simple.
This dessert would be great for entertaining, for afternoon luncheons, wedding showers, or baby showers, as an individual dessert that is more than just a cupcake, but a miniature version of a real cake. Your guest will thrilled and be amazed when you serve it.But in the meantime, treat yourself like a royal with this wonderful dessert, anytime of the year.
Miniature 12-layer Smith Island Cake
Serves 1 – 2
For the Chocolate Frosting:
2 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Put in the top of a double boiler, the chocolate, butter, and milk. Cook until the chocolate melts. Stir well. DO NOT BOIL.Let the mixture cool until lukewarm and then stir in the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla. Beat mixture until thick enough to spread. Set aside.
For the Cakes:
2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
3 cups flour
¼ – teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup water
Wilton 12 Cavity Round Ice Cream Sandwich Pan
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 the vanilla and water. Mix just until uniform. Put 1 tablespoon of the batter in each of 12 wells of lightly greased Wilton Round Ice cream Sandwich cookie pan, using the back of the spoon to spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes.
To check if the cakes are done, lightly press the center of the cakes with your index finger. If the cakes are done, they will spring back.
Allow the cakes to cool on wire rack .Run a spatula around the edges of the cookie pan wells and ease the layer out of the pan. Using a serrated knife, thinly slice off the waffle pattern on the bottom of each cake. Brush off the crumbs from each cake and use two or three tablespoons of icing between each layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the icing. Repeat the process until the 12th layer is complete.
Finish frosting the cake and sides.