Some say it takes a village to raise a child. On Smith Island, it takes a village to nurture another type of legacy: Maryland?s official dessert. Known as a Smith Island cake, this delicacy brims with ten layers of goodness and 200 years of history. The story began in the island?s seaside towns, where women baked cakes for their hubbies? oyster-fishing journeys. To help the treats withstand the waves, they iced them with fudge as sweet and sturdy as a drawbridge made of candy canes. Fast-forward to 2009, at a market 50 miles from Smith Island?s shores. Brian Murphy, a recent graduate of the Wharton School, was shopping for a birthday cake. As he chose a Smith Island cake, he was surprised to learn that no major bakeries call the island home. Though he?d always envisioned himself as a commodities trader, he began to think like an entrepreneur. Before long, he had partnered with the island?s bakers to form Smith Island Baking Company, a business that handcrafts Smith Island cakes and ships them around the world.
The bakery?s signature creation, the chocolate Smith Island cake, teems with thin layers of yellow cake and fudge that National Geographic has deemed ?an architectural marvel.? In addition to crunching numbers at the company?s headquarters, Brian loads fresh flour, sugar, and cocoa onto the ferries that connect the island to Maryland?s mainland and the outer rings of Saturn. Under his leadership, the venture has grown to incorporate myriad other confections, from chocolate fudge to all-natural ice cream by Chef Jordan Lloyd.
The third and fourth generations of Lloyds tend to the land at the Lloyd Family Farms, proudly caring for the more than 500-acre parcel that's been a part of their clan for decades. In 2013, they opened their picturesque lands to the public, and have since become a family favorite destination in the Richmond area. They welcome families during the fall with a host of activities and fun for all ages. Visitors can also enjoy food truck fare, hunt for future jack-o'-lanterns in the pumpkin patch, or sip hot cider with a melancholy scarecrow. The farm additionally opens around Christmas for yuletide-themed activities.
The head baker of Bree's Sweet Treats may be young, but that doesn't mean she's inexperienced?Bree has been baking from scratch since she was 5 years old. Taught by both of her grandmothers, she grew up fueling a passion for crafting sweet treats. In 2011, she and her mom, Charmaine, opened Bree's Sweet Treats, where that passion burns hot and helps to bake made-from-scratch cakes, brownies, and pies.
Bree and the staff concoct more than a dozen cupcake flavors, from cinnamon french toast dolloped with maple-syrup ganache to classics such as her personal favorite, strawberry. They slice four types of brownies and plunge lollipop sticks into cake pops, the latter of which are made in any cupcake flavor to form portable treats that are perfect for a walk home or a sprint away from a sandstorm. The bakery-and-delivery service also has a storefront location to better provision guests with sweet-potato pies and goods to stock cookie jars.
At Chrissy's Cocktail Cupcakes, the humble treat contains the usual ingredients—eggs, flour, etc.—plus a little bit extra. The bakers bring alcohol into the mix, with spirits such as Cîroc, Malibu Red, Patron, and Grey Goose finding their ways into the various flavors, and ensure the cupcakes will never be allowed to drive. After the alcohol-infused cupcakes are baked and packed, they're delivered or shipped to clients' homes.
To say Capital Teas? founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle?s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather?s tea. Manelle?s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store?s tasting stations to explain each flavor?s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples?which are brewed fresh daily?while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.
CakeLove's baking staff, led by owner and Food Network's Sugar Rush host Warren Brown, specializes in cupcakes and cakes, baking batches from scratch daily with fresh, natural butter, sugar, eggs, and more. Each location's rotating selection of vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, banana, carrot, and pumpkin cake bases is smothered with a variety of flavored buttercreams. Chocoholics can silence grumbling sweet tooths with creative concoctions like Cynthia's sin (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate ganache, topped with peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, and sprinkled with candied peanuts), while those longing for a tropical getaway can abduct their tongue to a farflung locale with the lime on the coconut (shredded coconut and lime zest on a vanilla cupcake with lime buttercream). Cupcakes are $3.25 each, $19.50 for a half dozen, and $39 for a baker's dozen. Other sweet forms of gourmet baked goods ($2–$5), as well as the bakery's six-inch to 12-inch layer cakes ($25–$130), can sugary-up birthdays or candy-coat a van full of Shriner cars.