Every state lays claim to symbols that represent their cultures and histories. I came from Georgia, where they have everything from a state bird (the Brown Thrasher) to a state possum (the Pogo possum).
Maryland is the 42nd largest state, and they have laid claim to a lotta symbols:
State bird: Baltimore Oriole
State flower: Black-eyed Susan (we have a lot of those in Georgia!)
State Tree: White Oak
State Fish: Rockfish
Insect: Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Crustacean: Maryland Blue Crab (yum!)
Cat: Calico (We have one of those!)
Fossil Shell: Ecphora gardnera gardnera or the Wilson
Dinosaur: Astrodon (early Cretaceous period, from 95 to 130 million years ago)
Folk Dance: Square Dancing (that sounds like a Georgia thing)
Gem: Patuxent River Stone
Reptile: Diamondback Terrapin
Horse: Thoroughbred Horse
Song: Maryland, My Maryland
Theater: State Theater and the Center State Theater
Now you are thinking, "I don't see anything sweet about stones and theaters."
Last year, the Smith Island cake became our official state dessert.
The Smith Island cake was "cooked up" on the tiny waterman island (the only offshore inhabited island in the state), a 40 minute boat ride from Crisfield. Visitors can take the mail boat or tour boat, and go back in time to the island where Captain John Smith landed, around 1580-1631. Check out the history and put it on your day trip calendar the next time you visit Crisfield.
I don't think anyone knows the true origin of the cake. The residents can't remember a time when there was no Smith Island cake. And most think the recipe was brought to the island by the settlers.
While the waterman were out working the bay, the women stayed home, and there was plenty of time for them to work on the up to 12 layer cakes. The residents say the cake started with 4 layers, but competition among the women made it grow in size. Most of the layers now are around 8-10, but you can always request 12.
On the island, the tradition still continues. Today, there are several Maryland bakeries that make the delicate cakes.
My local favorite is The Sweet Shop in Crisfield. The owners are from Smith Island.
The cakes are made from scratch, the paper thin layers are baked separately (not sliced from larger cakes). Nothing but the best ingredients are used in the making of the cakes. The icing, also made from scratch, is divine. My grandmother could not make icing like that.
The Sweet Shop is expanding, and moving to a larger building. They are working on mail order catalog sales, but you don't have to wait for that. They have been shipping cakes all over the country for some time.
Now, as to not get myself in trouble, you can have Smith Island cakes shipped from other bakeries, and from Smith Island itself. They are all yummy. But the Sweet Shop is just a hop skip and a jump from my house (and this is a Crisfield, Maryland blog), so I am totally addicted to their cakes.
Nina, the manager who makes my cakes, always leaves me wanting for more. Last year, I took Nina a big bag of figs from our fig trees and had her make me two Smith Island cakes (a coconut and a chocolate cake with my figs). I am not sure if anyone has ever made a Smith Island chocolate or coconut fig cake before, but those were two mouth-watering cakes.
Try throwing a bag of fruit at your local bakery and telling them to make something up! I love small towns. People know how to improvise.
Chocolate cake with white layers is one of the traditional flavors. I like to do it up right and order chocolate layers.
Below are photos of a banana cake being iced
This is manager Nina Gallion with the completed cake standing next to a chocolate cake. She knows how to make cakes!
Cakes waiting to be shipped out.
The small store front that will soon be vacated. They are moving to a large building, a few miles up the road.