Culinary Heritage


Sweet Traditions in Somerset

Maryland's Official State Dessert - Smith Island Cake

This delicious confection has evolved over the years, slowly gaining layers and flavor variations.  One thing is for sure.  If you are lucky enough to sample a slice, you don't soon forget it.   The traditional Smith Island cake is 8 - 12 layers of yellow cake with a chocolate fudgy cooked icing.  The amount of layers will vary depending on flavor.  Cakes using fresh fruit are more likely to slide with too many layers.

If you'd like to order one to try, please check out the Bakeries tab in the Eat & Drink section.  If you'd like to try your hand at baking one,  try the scratch (or "from the stump") recipe from Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook or the recipe from Smith Island's Cake Lady, Mary Ada Marshall, which uses a clever box mix baking hack.  Whichever you use, you'll get a delicious result.

Deal Island Cream Devil

A favorite in Deal Island, Maryland, the Cream Devil Cake can be found at most special functions on the island from holidays and birthdays to potlucks and picnics. Though the earliest recipe calls for two to three layers of buttermilk chocolate cake with a delicious, decadent cooked frosting, there are a few variations. Some make it into a sheet cake, others a bundt. It's delicious in any form.

Since the icing is a little fickle, they aren't commercially produced.  The 
cake is easy, but the frosting is particularly tricky and requires patience and a strong arm (or at least a good hand mixer).   If you are feeling adventurous, give the recipe a try.

Savory Traditions

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake

Maryland crab cake recipes are as varied as the people who make them, but there are a few hard and fast rules that are followed.  First, double check your crab meat for shell.  Triple check if you think it will help.  Second, you want just enough binder to help the crab stick together.  Excess filler is frowned upon. 

If you don't have a tried and true family recipe handed down, the one on the side of the Old Bay® can works in a pinch.   You can also order a copy of "From Crab Pot to Table Top: 50 Years of Winning Recipes from the National Hard Crab Derby", from the Crisfield Area Chamber of Commerce.  The cookbook features 70+ crab cake recipes and hundreds of other crabby ideas.