Smith Island Cake History and Making
The origin of the yellow cake’s famous eight to ten thin layers is somewhat of a mystery. One theory is that additional layers were baked to keep the cake from drying out. However, the thin layers may have also emerged because electricity did not arrive on the island until the 1950s and 60s and it was harder to bake thick layers in a wood oven. In more recent memory, the multiple layers are thought to have spawned by friendly competitions between watermen’s wives.
Only 2/3 of a cup of batter is poured into nine-inch cake pans to create the thin cake layers. Though each layer bakes for about eight minutes, a layer is done when you cannot hear sizzling.