Apple Stack Cake for the holidays

By Kyle Lovern

December 15, 2013

I was talking with my pastor, Ray Taylor the other day and he asked me about a recipe for an Apple Stack Cake. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve never baked one in my life. I have heard about them and how good they were and about how people from this area used to make them often. I told Bro. Ray that I would try to find a recipe for him and I believe that I have found one that he may like. I also did a bit of research on where the cake originated from.

I found some information at the website http://therevivalist.info/history-of-apple-stack-cake/ that I thought was interesting and I wanted to share it with you….

The dried apple stack cake is one of the most popular southern Appalachian cakes— no surprise considering apples are found aplenty in the mountains. Culturally it’s akin to the classic European torte. It looks like a stack of thick pancakes, with apple preserves, dried apples or apple butter spread between each layer. At holidays and weddings, early mountain settlers traditionally served stack cake in lieu of more fancy, and costly, cakes. Neighbors would each bring a layer of the cake to the bride’s family, which they spread with apple filling as they arrived. It was said that the number of cake layers the bride got determined how popular she was.

Kentucky lays claim to originating the dessert via Kentucky pioneer washday cake. “Some food historians say that James Harrod, the colonist and farmer who founded Harrodsburg in 1774, brought the stack cake to Kentucky from his home in Pennsylvania,” observes Mark F. Sohn in Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture, and Recipes.

“While Harrod may have brought the first stack cake to Kentucky, the cake could not have been common until more than 100 years later when flour became readily available.” Tennessee proudly points to Tennessee stack cake as the first, but in fact variations of the cake abound throughout the region.

I found the following recipe for the cake that didn’t seem too complicated. There is a recipe on the website above but it called for dried apples and those didn’t seem easy to find in our area. I’m hoping it tastes like the ones Bro. Ray and others remember their mothers baking many years ago.

1 c. sugar

1 c. molasses 

1 c. butter or shortening 

2 tsp. cinnamon 

2 tsp. ginger 

1/2 tsp. cloves 

1/2 tsp. nutmeg 

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 c. buttermilk

6 c. flour

Cream butter or shortening, sugar and molasses. Sift 2 cups flour with other dry ingredients and add alternately with first mixture with the buttermilk, add enough of flour to make soft dough. Roll out on floured board to 9-inch round trim edges. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake on cookie sheet 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 8 layers.
Fill with spiced sweetened cooked and mashed apples or you can use apple butter between the layers. Cover cake in plastic wrap and let sit for 24-48 hours to soften. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar on top before serving.
(*Note – In a previous article I shared a recipe for a Sliced Apple Cake. I made an error when typing the recipe. The original recipe called for ½ cup of oil and I substituted applesauce to lighten it up a bit. In the main body of the recipe I forgot to delete the word “oil” and replace it with “applesauce”. To make a long story short, you can use either a ½ cup of vegetable oil or a ½ cup of applesauce to bake this cake.)

Until next time……Debbie