A cake made for shar­ing

Maryland Independent - - church News -

We’re all proud of our home states, aren’t we? Well, “proud” could some­times be in­ter­changed with “pro­tec­tive.” No state or county or town is with­out its is­sues, but hear­ing a neg­a­tive com­ment about it is like a bully pick­ing on your sib­ling: you can make fun of that bum, but if any­one else does? Well.

In that vein, I’m a proud Mary­lan­der who hap­pily sings the praises of ev­ery­thing from our seafood to our scenery to our awe­some state flag. I re­cently came home with a wind­sock bear­ing the iconic coat of arms of one Ge­orge Calvert, Lord Bal­ti­more, and asked my hus­band to hang it on the porch.

Spencer looked at it skep­ti­cally.

“It’s for Oliver!” I said, ges­tur­ing to our tod­dler. “He loves look­ing out the win­dow. I thought it would give him some­thing to watch.”

This was true, of course — just not the whole story. But it did help jus­tify the dumb amount of money I paid for some­thing em­bla­zoned with the Mary­land flag in­stead of just buy­ing the flag it­self. Spencer saw right through me, of course; I’m just Old Line State crazy.

I’m never more ridicu­lous or smug than when I’m ed­u­cat­ing non-Mary­lan­ders on the glo­ries of our fair state. My friend Tif­fany can hardly be called an out­sider, be­ing from Bowie and all, but she was born in New York — so I of­ten take it upon my­self to in­tro­duce her to my fa­vorite del­i­ca­cies. En­ter: Smith Is­land Cake. If you haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced the sub­lime plea­sure of Mary­land’s of­fi­cial state dessert, I sug­gest you start plot­ting how you’ll fix that. You could make one your­self, of course, as a good friend once did — even bring­ing a slice for us to squab­ble over at work. Bak­ing is one of my fa­vorite pas­times, and I make a pretty wicked Key lime cupcake. But I would never at­tempt this on my own.

It’s eight to 15 lay­ers, to start. And these lay­ers are so thin that, be­fore bak­ing, each pan is filled with only a few ta­ble­spoons of bat­ter. The cooled cakes are then stacked with frost­ing in be­tween and fin­ished with a per­fectly slight amount, too. The re­sult? Magic.

The classic Smith Is­land cre­ation is yel­low cake with fudge frost­ing, de­scribed as “the orig­i­nal” by an is­land-based bak­ery. The kind I first had was ac­tu­ally caramel with yel­low cake, and that’s the one I can’t get out of my head.

Tif­fany and I talked about get­ting a be­lated birth­day lunch to­gether, and the choice was left to me. I went on­line to drool over menus. When I stum­bled upon a Wal­dorf diner’s “We have Smith Is­land Cake!”style pro­nounce­ment, though, the brows­ing was of­fi­cially over. I slammed the lap­top lid, grabbed my keys and yanked Tif­fany out by the arm.

OK — not quite. It was ac­tu­ally a day too early. And she drove, given my an­cient but mostly-re­li­able car had a flat tire. But still! It all only served to build the an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Be­cause I’m too lazy to make a Smith Is­land Cake from scratch, I’m more than happy to pay for a pricey slice else­where. Tucked into a booth on a week­day af­ter­noon, I was tempted to by­pass lunch com­pletely and just order the cake. Thank­fully, my bath­room scale sent me a creepy text at the last minute: ”I know what you weighed this morn­ing.”

Now in my early thir­ties, I know I can’t af­ford to make the youth­ful mis­takes — or di­etary choices — I once did. Af­ter hav­ing my son, my lin­ger­ing blood pres­sure con­cerns were enough to make my doc­tor raise not one but both her eye­brows. When we talked about longterm is­sues, I re­mem­ber stalling.

“I mean, aren’t I a lit­tle young to of­fi­cially have high blood pres­sure?” I asked.

“You’re not that young,” the doc­tor said po­litely. Ouch. The thing is . . . she was right. I was 30, af­ter all — and I’m even older now. My days of eat­ing ice cream for break­fast and shun­ning veg­eta­bles are long over. I’m a pretty clean eater about, oh, 70 per­cent of the time.

Last Wed­nes­day was def­i­nitely the other 30 per­cent.

When the slice of Smith Is­land Cake ar­rived, I showed re­mark­able self-re­straint and ge­nial­ity by hand­ing one of two spoons to Tif­fany. It was yel­low cake with lemon fill­ing, not cho­co­late — a mi­nor dis­ap­point­ment that lasted only un­til I lapped up the rasp­berry driz­zle. Some­times it’s good to try new things.

My na­tive New Yorker friend was pleased. I was pleased, too — es­pe­cially be­cause I didn’t have to pay to have this thing shipped overnight to me.

Be­cause they’ll do that, you know.

Not that I’ve re­searched it or any­thing. Twit­ter: @right­meg

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