Smith island cake

Smith island cake


As its name suggests, this cake is from Smith Island, a small island in America’s Chesapeake Bay. The story goes that the fishermen’s wives would make this multi-layered cake for their menfolk to take with them on their long sea voyages, as the chocolate icing kept the cake moist. It takes a bit of time to get the layers looking sharp, but all you need is concentration and patience.


Quantity Ingredient
50g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
6 eggs
175g caster sugar
100g plain flour
75g cocoa powder, sifted
100g white chocolate, (optional)
mixed berries, to decorate

For the chestnut filling

Quantity Ingredient
300g chestnut puree
100ml double cream

For the icing

Quantity Ingredient
250g dark chocolate, finely chopped, (70% cocoa solids)
50g cocoa powder, sifted
100g icing sugar, sifted
25ml water


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease and line a 22cm cake tin.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture has doubled in volume and leaves a trail from the whisk. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Pour into the tin and bake for 30–35 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To make the filling, whisk the chestnut purée and double cream together.
  5. To make the icing, place the chopped chocolate, the cocoa powder, icing sugar and water in a saucepan and set over a low heat. Heat until the mixture is liquid, then whisk together until smooth.
  6. To assemble the cake, slice it into horizontal layers, using a long, serrated knife. Sandwich the layers together with the chestnut cream.
  7. Place on a cake stand and pour the chocolate icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and sides.
  8. If you want to write on the cake, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Spoon the melted chocolate into a piping bag and pipe the words, ‘Smith Island’ on the top, if you like. Decorate with berries.
James Martin
Saturday Kitchen
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