Monday, December 16, 2013

Bakery Review: Smith Island Baking Company

Smith Island Baking Company - December 13, 2013
I meant to get this post up earlier but ironically, I've been so busy with baking over the weekend that I haven't had time to write up much of what I'm doing. Although I also didn't get this cake until last Friday so I couldn't have written it up before then anyway :).
Are you still shopping for Christmas gifts?  The thought of going to the mall making you break out in hives yet you still need to solve your gift conundrum?  Don't know what to get for someone who has everything and doesn't want more "stuff"? Need to send a gift to far-away friends and/or relatives but shudder at the thought of lining up at the post office to mail something? In those situations, I always give food, notably food gifts I can order online and have shipped directly to my recipients.
Enter the Smith Island Baking Company. I saw an article online that listed the top 10 food gifts to give and their coconut cake was one of them. Coconut? My ears, ears and taste buds all stood to attention. I always send my former college roommate, Caroline, a foodie gift for Christmas and her birthday.  She's better than I am in sourcing online places to order from but this time I felt this would be an inspired gift. I had never heard of the Smith Island Baking Company but after going to their website and reading about their story (I highly recommend anyone interested in small businesses to go check it out), I had to try it, not only as a gift for Caroline but yup, I had to get one for me too.
Perfectly packaged for shipping and arriving intact
In a pure moment of serendipidity, for the first time, I also heard of Foodydirect.  They're a local company based in Menlo Park, CA and while I was "out shopping" on Cyber Monday, I discovered Foodydirect and, more importantly, their $10 off coupon for first-time customers.  And most relevant of all, the Smith Island Baking Company was one of their foodie partners I could order from. A match made in culinary heaven.  Foodydirect is currently running a promotion and you can get $15 off your first purchase if you use this referral link (Note: I'm not associated with Foodydirect or the Smith Island Baking Company - I just like to eat....)
Not too much frosting - yay
I placed the order for Caroline to arrive the first week of December but scheduled mine to arrive last Friday. I knew I wouldn't - and shouldn't - eat the whole cake by myself so I scheduled it to arrive when I was making up all my baked goods holiday gifts so I could include slices of the cake with my gifts. Some may call it cheating but I call it still fitting into my clothes by Christmas. I believe in sharing the calories.
The "normal" size piece which actually turned out to be a lot of cake
As you can tell from the pictures above, the cake came very well packaged. The outer box was wedged in amidst dry ice packs inside a styrofoam shipping container, it sat on a cardboard circle, the coconut-dusted frosted sides were wrapped with cardboard all around it and the whole thing was encased in sealed plastic. Not a shred of coconut was allowed to move. Their website says the cakes are frozen as soon as they're assembled then shipped UPS 2nd Day Air when ordered to ensure freshness on arrival. I must admit to their truth in advertising as when the cake arrived on my doorstep, it was still pretty cold and firm to slice. It's actually best to slice it when it's still in that state because with this many layers, it's easy to get more misshapen if you cut it when it's completely thawed.
The Smith Island Baking Company bakes each of those thin layers you see above individually.  So it isn't like they bake one tall round cake and slice it into layers using the dental floss method. They bake every single layer separately then assemble it with frosting and coconut. That kind of effort and attention to detail is almost mind-boggling even to a baker like me but I must say, it was worth every bit of work because this cake was amazing. I loved the taste, the softness of the texture, the mouthfeel, and the chewiness of the coconut. There isn't too much frosting which is usually my issue with cakes; it didn't need a lot because there were so many layers than a very thin frosting layer between each cake layer was perfect. The only drawback - and yes, I know this is a First World problem - is with this many layers, it's hard to slice a thin slice without crumbling or smushing the cake.  Yet if you cut a "normal" slice, there are also so many layers that it actually makes for a lot of cake.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach (although, er, my stomach is feeling like it's catching up quite nicely) and I cut a "normal" piece.  It took me all afternoon over 4 sittings to finish it. It was delicious but even I have a sugar stopping point. I ended up slicing the cake and giving the rest away so I could share the deliciousness with family and friends. I'm so glad I discovered this bakery and am giving myself 6 months before I plunge back in and order their original yellow cake with fudge frosting. Just to see what that's like of course.


  1. Hi Pastry Chef,

    Thank you for this review, I've seen them on QVC but you know they love everything on the show so it's really hard to say which or what is really good.

    By any chance you've had one Caroline's layer cakes to compare with Smith Island? what is your fav place on the net to buy layer cakes? thx

    1. I've never heard of Caroline's Cakes but thanks for the heads up. I looked up her website and it's definitely something I'd like to try. I love the Smith Island cake. I don't buy them on the internet very often so I don't have a particular favorite place. I just like to try new sources. I'll blog about them whenever I do.