Social Media

Smith Island Cake Recipe

Delight in the celebration of baking with this authentic Smith Island Cake recipe. Known for its multi-layered marvel and rich chocolate icing, this cake offers a splendid experience for your taste buds. Originating from Maryland, this cake is a true classic in American dessert history.

Smith Island Cake Recipe
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Photos of Smith Island Cake Recipe

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

This recipe may need a trip to the supermarket for some specific ingredients. You might not commonly have bittersweet chocolate, corn syrup, or buttermilk in your pantry. Ensure to get them for the perfect taste. Also, don’t forget rainbow sprinkles for that extra fun factor.

Essential Ingredients for Smith Island Cake Recipe

Unsalted butter: Used for both the cake and icing, it provides richness and depth to the flavor.

Bittersweet chocolate: It is the key ingredient for the icing, imparting a deep chocolate taste.

Granulated sugar: It sweetens both the cake and icing.

Heavy cream: Used in the icing to make it creamy and luxurious.

Corn syrup: It gives the icing a smooth and glossy texture.

Pure vanilla extract: Enhances the overall flavor of the cake and icing.

All-purpose flour: The basic structure for any cake.

Baking powder and baking soda: They help the cake rise and give it a light and fluffy texture.

Eggs: They provide structure and stability to the cake.

Buttermilk: It adds tanginess to the cake and helps tenderize the gluten in the batter.

Rainbow sprinkles: For decoration and a pop of color.

One reader, Gualterio Comstock says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This Smith Island cake recipe is a game-changer! The layers are moist and flavorful, and the chocolate icing is pure heaven. The rainbow sprinkles add a fun touch. It's a showstopper dessert that's worth every effort. I can't wait to make it again for my next celebration!

Gualterio Comstock

Key Techniques for Mastering Smith Island Cake Recipe

How to make the chocolate icing: This involves melting the butter and chocolate, then combining them with sugar, cream, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. The mixture is brought to a boil, then allowed to cool and thicken to a spreadable consistency.

How to prepare the cake batter: This includes mixing the dry ingredients separately, then creaming the butter and sugar before adding eggs, vanilla extract, and the dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. It's important not to overmix the batter.

How to bake the cake layers: The batter is divided into three cake pans and baked at 350°F for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The cakes are then cooled, inverted, and released from the pans.

How to assemble the cake: This involves layering the cake with the chocolate icing between each layer, then decorating the top with sprinkles. The assembled cake should be set aside for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

How To Make Smith Island Cake

Smith Island cake is the official dessert of Maryland. This recipe is a homemade version that is made with yellow cake layers and chocolate fudge icing.

Preparation: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooking: 36 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
Total: 4 hours



For the Chocolate Icing:

  • 6tbspunsalted butter,cut into 6 pieces
  • 4ozbar bittersweet chocolate,coarsely chopped
  • 1⅔cupsgranulated sugar
  • 1cupheavy cream
  • 2tspcorn syrup,optional, for shine
  • 1tsppure vanilla extract
  • pinchsalt

For the Cake:

  • cupsall purpose flour,sifted, spoon & leveled
  • 1tspbaking powder
  • ¾tspbaking soda
  • 1tspsalt
  • cupsunsalted butter,softened to room temperature
  • 2cupsgranulated sugar
  • 5large eggs,at room temperature
  • tsppure vanilla extract
  • cupsbuttermilk,at room temperature
  • rainbow sprinkles,for garnish, optional



  1. Combine the butter, chocolate, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and corn syrup together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until butter has melted.

  2. Once melted, stir occasionally as the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste.

  3. Add a sprinkle of salt, if desired. Leave uncovered and set aside to thicken and cool for at least 1 to 2 hours or until it has a spreadable consistency.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy for about 3 minutes.

  3. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. At medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

  4. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter.

  6. Leave unused batter loosely covered at room temperature as cakes bake. Pour slightly less than 1 cup of batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  7. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto the counter. Peel off the parchment to reuse45 minutes.

  8. Grease the warm cake pans, line with parchment, and grease the parchment. Repeat with slightly less than 1 cup of batter per cake pan.

  9. Repeat baking, cooling and releasing the cakes from the warm pans. Grease the warm cake pans, line with parchment, and grease the parchment.

  10. Repeat one final time. Allow all 9 layers to cool completely for about 45 minutes.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Carefully place one layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Spoon and spread ¼ cup of icing on top, then repeat with the rest of the cake layers and icing. Decorate the top with sprinkles, if desired.

  2. Set cake aside for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

  3. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1 to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  • Calories: 797.99kcal
  • Fat: 41.63g
  • Saturated Fat: 25.38g
  • Trans Fat: 1.17g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 11.41g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.01g
  • Carbohydrates: 100.54g
  • Fiber: 1.61g
  • Sugar: 69.67g
  • Protein: 8.94g
  • Cholesterol: 182.37mg
  • Sodium: 522.24mg
  • Calcium: 112.72mg
  • Potassium: 185.51mg
  • Iron: 2.58mg
  • Vitamin A: 362.50µg
  • Vitamin C: 0.48mg

Expert Technique Tip for a Flawless Smith Island Cake Recipe

When assembling your Smith Island cake, it's crucial to ensure each layer is completely cooled before adding the chocolate icing. If the layers are still warm, the icing may melt and cause the layers to slide, making it difficult to achieve a neat, stacked appearance. Also, when applying the icing, start from the center and gently spread it towards the edges. This method ensures an even distribution of icing on each layer. Lastly, don't rush the process. Taking your time to carefully construct each layer will result in a beautifully stacked cake that's as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Smith Island Cake

Prepare the ingredients: Gather and measure all the ingredients before starting to make the cake to streamline the process.

Room temperature ingredients: Bring the butter, eggs, and buttermilk to room temperature before starting to ensure even mixing and a smoother batter.

Use multiple cake pans: Bake the cake layers in multiple pans simultaneously to reduce the overall baking time.

Chill the icing: Place the icing in the refrigerator to speed up the thickening process before assembling the cake.

Use an electric mixer: Utilize an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar for the cake batter, saving time and effort compared to mixing by hand.

Bake in advance: Bake the cake layers a day ahead and store them in an airtight container to save time on the day of assembly.

Substitute Ingredients For Smith Island Cake Recipe

  • unsalted butter - Substitute with coconut oil: Coconut oil can provide a similar richness and moisture to the recipe, and it can be a suitable replacement for butter in baking.

  • bittersweet chocolate - Substitute with semisweet chocolate: Semisweet chocolate has a slightly higher sugar content, but it can still provide a rich and chocolatey flavor to the icing.

  • granulated sugar - Substitute with coconut sugar: Coconut sugar can be used as a 1:1 replacement for granulated sugar and adds a subtle caramel flavor to the cake.

  • heavy cream - Substitute with coconut cream: Coconut cream can be whipped and used as a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream, providing a rich and creamy texture to the icing.

  • corn syrup - Substitute with maple syrup: Maple syrup can add a similar sweetness and viscosity to the icing, and it also imparts a delightful maple flavor.

  • all purpose flour - Substitute with cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content, resulting in a softer and more tender cake texture.

  • buttermilk - Substitute with plain yogurt mixed with milk: This mixture can mimic the tangy flavor and acidity of buttermilk, which helps in tenderizing the cake.

  • rainbow sprinkles - Substitute with chocolate sprinkles: Chocolate sprinkles can add a similar decorative touch and a delightful chocolate flavor to the cake.

Presentation Ideas for a Stunning Smith Island Cake

  1. Elevate the cake layers: Gently lift and place each cake layer onto the serving platter, ensuring they are perfectly aligned for a visually stunning presentation.

  2. Create a chocolate drizzle: Using a spoon, carefully drizzle the chocolate icing over the top layer, allowing it to cascade down the sides for an elegant and decadent touch.

  3. Garnish with edible flowers: Adorn the top of the cake with delicate, vibrant edible flowers to add a pop of color and a touch of sophistication.

  4. Incorporate gold leaf accents: Lightly apply edible gold leaf accents to the cake's surface for a luxurious and opulent appearance that will captivate the eyes.

  5. Arrange in a circular pattern: Place the cake layers in a circular formation, creating a visually appealing and symmetrical presentation that exudes finesse.

  6. Dust with cocoa powder: Lightly dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder using a fine sieve, adding a touch of elegance and a hint of rich flavor to the overall aesthetic.

  7. Add a sprinkle of edible glitter: Enhance the cake's allure by delicately sprinkling edible glitter over the top layer, imparting a mesmerizing sparkle that catches the light.

  8. Incorporate a mirror glaze: Apply a glossy mirror glaze to the cake for a flawless, reflective finish that showcases precision and artistry.

  9. Use a cake stencil: Place a decorative stencil over the cake and dust with confectioners' sugar to create an intricate and captivating pattern on the surface.

  10. Present on a bed of spun sugar: Display the cake on a delicate bed of spun sugar, elevating the presentation with a touch of ethereal beauty and intricate craftsmanship.

Essential Tools for Baking a Perfect Smith Island Cake Recipe

  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is essential for combining ingredients and mixing the cake batter.
  • Saucepan: A saucepan is used to melt the butter and chocolate and to make the chocolate icing.
  • Handheld or stand mixer: A handheld or stand mixer is used to beat the butter and sugar, as well as to incorporate the eggs and buttermilk into the cake batter.
  • Parchment paper: Parchment paper is used to line the cake pans, preventing the cake from sticking and aiding in easy removal.
  • Rubber spatula: A rubber spatula is used for scraping down the sides of the bowl and folding in the dry ingredients.
  • Cake pans: Cake pans are used to bake the cake layers.
  • Whisk: A whisk is used to combine the dry ingredients for the cake batter.
  • Serving platter or cake stand: A serving platter or cake stand is used to assemble and present the cake.

Storing and Freezing Instructions for Smith Island Cake

  • Allow the cake to cool completely before storing or freezing to prevent moisture from forming and making the layers soggy.

  • To store the cake at room temperature, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. It will keep for 1 to 2 days.

  • For longer storage, place the cake in the refrigerator. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. The cake will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

  • To freeze the cake, first chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to firm up the icing. Then, wrap the entire cake tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Label the wrapped cake with the date and place it in the freezer. It will keep for up to 3 months.

  • To thaw a frozen cake, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, remove the wrapping and let the cake come to room temperature before serving.

  • If you want to freeze individual slices, wrap each slice tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. To thaw, remove the desired number of slices and let them thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Fascinating Facts About the Origin of Smith Island Cake

The Smith Island Cake is the official dessert of the state of Maryland. It is a traditional cake made with multiple layers of thin, moist yellow cake, separated by a cooked chocolate icing. The cake is known for its unique and labor-intensive preparation, with each layer being baked individually. The cake has been a part of Maryland's culinary heritage for generations and is a beloved treat for special occasions and celebrations.

Is Making Smith Island Cake at Home Cost-Effective?

This Smith Island Cake recipe is moderately cost-effective for a household. The ingredients, such as butter, chocolate, and buttermilk, can be found at reasonable prices. However, the use of multiple layers and the quantity of ingredients may increase the overall cost. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $25-$30. The overall verdict rating for this recipe is 8/10, considering the delightful taste and the impressive visual appeal of the cake.

Is Smith Island Cake Healthy or Unhealthy?

The Smith Island Cake recipe, while undeniably delicious, is not particularly healthy. The cake itself is made with a significant amount of butter, sugar, and heavy cream, which are all high in calories and saturated fats. The chocolate icing also contains a considerable amount of sugar and heavy cream, further increasing the calorie and fat content of the cake.

Moreover, the recipe calls for nine layers of cake, which means that a single slice of this cake would be much larger than a typical serving size. Consuming such a large portion of a high-calorie, high-fat dessert could contribute to weight gain and other health issues if eaten regularly.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar in both the cake and the icing. You can experiment with using natural sweeteners like applesauce or mashed bananas to replace some of the sugar.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour to increase the fiber content and nutritional value of the cake.
  • Replace some of the butter with healthier alternatives like Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. This will help reduce the saturated fat content while maintaining moisture in the cake.
  • Opt for a lighter frosting or glaze instead of the heavy chocolate icing. A simple dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of dark chocolate can still provide a satisfying sweetness without the extra calories and fat.
  • Cut the cake into smaller portions to encourage mindful eating and help with portion control.

Editor's Opinion: Why Smith Island Cake Recipe Is Worth Trying

The Smith Island cake recipe is a delightful and indulgent treat. The rich, moist cake layers are perfectly complemented by the decadent chocolate icing, creating a symphony of flavors and textures. The step-by-step instructions are clear and easy to follow, ensuring that even novice bakers can achieve success. The addition of rainbow sprinkles adds a playful touch to the cake, making it a visually stunning dessert. Overall, this recipe is a wonderful choice for special occasions or simply to satisfy a sweet craving.

Enhance Your Smith Island Cake Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a rich, roasted garlic flavor that pairs perfectly with the decadent Smith Island Cake.
Grilled Pineapple Slices: Sweet and juicy grilled pineapple slices that provide a refreshing contrast to the rich chocolate icing of the Smith Island Cake.
Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts: Tender Brussels sprouts coated in a sweet and tangy balsamic glaze, adding a savory element to balance the sweetness of the cake.

Delicious Alternatives to Traditional Smith Island Cake Recipe

Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Marinate the vegetables in a zesty herb dressing before grilling for a delicious and healthy side dish.
Braised Beef Short Ribs: Slow cook the beef short ribs in a rich red wine sauce until they are fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavor.
Mango Coconut Popsicles: Blend together ripe mangoes and creamy coconut milk for a refreshing and tropical dessert that's perfect for hot summer days.

Appetizer and Main Course Ideas to Complement Smith Island Cake

Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory and indulgent stuffed mushrooms. Filled with a rich and flavorful mixture, these bite-sized appetizers are sure to be a hit at any gathering.
Bruschetta: Elevate your appetizer game with these delicious bruschetta bites. The combination of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic on crispy bread is a perfect way to start any meal.
Main Courses:
Chicken Alfredo: Creamy, indulgent, and comforting, this classic Italian dish is perfect for a cozy night in. The rich and velvety sauce pairs perfectly with tender, juicy chicken and al dente pasta. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a side of garlic bread for a truly satisfying meal.
Beef Stroganoff: Tender strips of beef, savory mushrooms, and tangy sour cream come together in this hearty and flavorful dish. The creamy sauce coats the beef and mushrooms, creating a luscious and comforting main course. Serve over a bed of buttery egg noodles for a classic and satisfying meal.

Why trust this Smith Island Cake Recipe:

This recipe for Smith Island Cake is a true taste of the Chesapeake Bay region, with its rich history and culinary tradition. The chocolate icing is made with high-quality bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream, ensuring a decadent and luscious texture. The cake layers are moist and flavorful, thanks to the use of buttermilk and pure vanilla extract. The step-by-step instructions and attention to detail in the preparation make this recipe trustworthy and reliable. Each ingredient is carefully selected to guarantee a delightful and authentic dessert experience.

Want to share your experience making this classic Maryland dessert or have any tips to perfect the Smith Island Cake Recipe? Join our Baking and Desserts forum to discuss and connect with fellow baking enthusiasts!
Can I use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet for the icing?
Yes, you can use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet for the icing. It will result in a slightly sweeter flavor, but it will still work well.
Can I make the cake layers in advance and freeze them?
Yes, you can make the cake layers in advance and freeze them. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator before assembling the cake.
Can I substitute the buttermilk with regular milk?
It's best to use buttermilk for this recipe as it adds a tangy flavor and helps create a tender crumb in the cake. If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes before using.
How long does the assembled cake last?
The assembled cake can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Make sure to cover it well to prevent it from drying out.
Can I skip the rainbow sprinkles for the decoration?
Yes, you can skip the rainbow sprinkles for the decoration if you prefer. You can customize the cake with your choice of sprinkles, chocolate shavings, or leave it plain.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!