Smith Island Cake


Really tender cake layers with buttery vanilla flavor. A lightly sweet ganache icing helps balance out the whole thing. Prepare this showstopper for a special occasion and receive rave reviews. Using aluminum pans really speeds up the assembly and cooking process. The batter holds well while the other layers cook.

Prep Time:
45 mins
Cook Time:
45 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs 45 mins
1 8 1/2-inch layer cake



  • 4 cups heavy cream

  • ¼ cup light corn syrup

  • 24 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  • cooking spray

  • 1 ½ cups salted butter, softened

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature


  1. Prepare icing: Combine cream and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring mixture just to a simmer, stirring often. Remove from the heat.

  2. Place chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and pour hot cream mixture over top. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 2 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Chill icing in the refrigerator until thickened and spreadable, about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

  3. Meanwhile prepare cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray nine 8 1/2-inch round disposable cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray that gently with more cooking spray.

  4. Beat butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat just until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

  5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating on medium speed.

  6. Divide batter evenly (about 1 cup each) among prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, in batches, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  7. Place 1 cake layer on an 8-inch round cake board and spread with 1/3 cup icing using a small offset spatula. Top with another cake layer and spread with 1/3 cup icing. Repeat the process with remaining layers and icing. Coat the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of icing. Chill cake for 1 hour and reserve remaining icing.

  8. Place chilled cake on a wire rack over a rimmed baking pan. Microwave reserved icing at medium (50%) power in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one, until smooth and pourable, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Pour icing in a slow, steady stream over the top of the cake, starting at the center and moving to the outer edges so it flows down the sides. Smooth out the sides and fill any gaps with a small offset spatula.

  9. Chill cake until set, about 1 hour. Carefully transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.

Cook's Note:

It really is helpful to assemble this on a cake board and then transfer to a cake stand after chilling the second time. You could prepare the layers using three 8-inch round metal pans but it would involve letting them cool down between layers. The disposable pans made it easy to take out 1 batch and immediately put in the 2nd and 3rd batches. This allows for the batter not to sit overly long and take the chance of deflating. Also, the layers are so thin so it is helpful to have the added safety net of lining the pans with parchment.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

845 Calories
56g Fat
79g Carbs
10g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Calories 845
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 56g 71%
Saturated Fat 34g 170%
Cholesterol 188mg 63%
Sodium 396mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 79g 29%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 47g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 116mg 9%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 305mg 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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