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Smith Island-Style Cake


For the Chiffon Cake:

Nonstick cooking spray

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup vegetable oil

5 ounces egg yolks (about 8 yolks from large eggs)

1½ cups water, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 ounces egg whites (about 13 whites from large eggs)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Mocha Buttercream:

5 ounces egg yolks (about 8 yolks from large eggs)

2⁄3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1 pound unsalted butter, softened


Note: Although many Smith Island-style cakes are available throughout Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region, the real deal is only available on Smith Island, or shipped from


Chiffon Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare six 9-inch round cake pans, by spraying with cooking spray and lining bottoms with parchment paper circles.

3. In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

4. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla.

5. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

6. Make well in dry ingredients and add oil mixture. Whisk together.

7. Whisk whipped egg whites into batter. Divide batter among prepared pans.

8. Bake until cake tester or small knife inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 12 to 18 minutes.

9. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for additional 30 minutes.


Mocha Buttercream

1. In small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

2. In medium saucepan, heat milk and espresso powder to scalding.

3. Slowly whisk 1/3 hot milk into yolk mixture. Then, slowly pour egg mixture into pot of hot milk while whisking. Over medium heat, cook for 5 minutes, or until bubbly, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and chocolate.

4. With electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat mixture until cool, about 7 minutes. Slowly add softened butter, and beat until combined.

5. To assemble cake, remove cakes layers from the pans.

6. Place 1 layer on serving plate. Spread 3/4 cup buttercream over top. Place another cake layer on top. Continue layering 3/4 cup buttercream between each cake layer, finishing with buttercream on top. Frost sides with remaining buttercream.

7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Slice into 12 pieces.


Optional decorations:

1. Drizzle melted bittersweet chocolate (approximately 2 ounces) over top of cake.

2. Sprinkle chocolate-covered espresso beans (about 2 ounces) on top of cake while buttercream is still soft, before refrigerating.

3. Place chocolate sprinkles (about 2 ounces) on sides of cake while buttercream is still soft, before refrigerating.

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