In this series, we examine the history and origins of famous sweets, confections, and desserts associated with American states.
I've long been a proponent of equal cake-to-icing ratios, which is why I ultimately favor the layer cake over the cupcake for celebrations.
The bakers of Smith Island, Maryland's only inhabited island, exceed these expectations by pairing eight to ten thin layers of yellow cake with the same number of layers of chocolate icing.
All cakes should aspire to such equal representation.
Most historians cite the cake's inception to the 19th century, though some say it appeared even earlier. While local oystermen were on their fall harvest, their better halves supposedly sent them the thin-layer style of cakes as souvenirs from home and, I guess, as sweet albeit not-so-subtle reminders that they had families waiting for them.
This ostensibly pedestrian confection has achieved haute media coverage in the past decade. Recipes abound online, or you can save yourself the trouble and order from the official unofficial Smith Island Bakery, which can ship the original version of the cake plus gourmet renditions (dark chocolate raspberry, red velvet, and strawberries & cream) to all 50 states.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.