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Recipe: Smith Island 10-Layer Cake

Smith Island layer cake, in progress and complete.
John Poole, NPR /
Smith Island layer cake, in progress and complete.


2 sticks butter

2 12-oz. cans evaporated milk

8 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 lbs. confectioners sugar

Melt butter. Stir in evaporated milk (off heat). Whisk in cocoa until smooth, return to heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes. DO NOT BOIL or scorch. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners sugar slowly. Cook slowly until thickened and will stick to back of a spoon or to the whisk. (It will form a ribbon when you drizzle a spoonful onto mixture while cooking.)

Approx time: 45 minutes.


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 the vanilla and water. Mix just until uniform. Put three serving spoonfuls of batter in each of 10 9-inch lightly greased pans, using the back of the spoon to spread evenly. Bake three 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 in 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 oft 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 each layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the icing. Push icing that runs onto the plate back onto the cake.

To Ice the Cake

Take one slightly cooled layer and spread with cooled frosting. Add crushed candy randomly on layer. (Reese's cups, Snickers, Milky Ways or whatever your favorite is — candy is optional as well.) Add next layers, frosting, candy and repeat process till the 10th layer. Do not add candy to final layer. Finish frosting the cake and sides. You may have to wait to ice the top and sides until the icing cools.

From Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook by Frances Kitching and Susan Stiles Dowell. Copyright ©1981 by Tidewater Publishers. Used by permission of Tidewater Publishers, Centreville, Maryland (800-638-7641 •

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