Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Apples and Appalachia – A Stack Cake to Fall For

October 10th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Fall brings thoughts of North Carolina — long a favorite of our family. We’ve been visiting for more than 20 years, as often as possible in the fall for the changing leaves. I’ve seen them in other parts of the country, but still none compare to the beauty here, especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Oddly enough, no photos ever do it justice, though I’ve taken thousands now.

Fall also brings to mind the apples all around — you can buy them right out of the orchards and from stands along the Parkway; the Barber Orchards in Waynesville is among our favorites. (Their apple turnovers are delish.)

The Appalachian region is known for a peculiar cake made with dried apples, called a “stack cake.” I learned of it when I wrote the Sweet Southern cookbook.

Essentially, it’s six or eight thin layers of a biscuit-like cake, with a dried spiced apple filling in between. It’s always made a day or so before serving, since it must “set up” or “ripen” first — the juices must soak into the cake for it to taste just right.

Here’s the recipe from Sweet Southern. (You can find out more about the cookbook here.)

Appalachian Stack Cake

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups flour, plus 1/2 cup for rolling dough
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

For dried apple filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 package (8 ounces) dried apple slices (or peaches)

Make the six-layered cake: Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly in medium bowl of an electric mixer. Add egg, beat well. add vanilla and molasses, beating well. Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to creamed shortening mixture.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and let rest about two minutes. Roll dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.

Divide dough into six equal portions. To portion correctly, roll each ball of dough over the greased bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and press rolled dough disks into pans. Bake at 350F  degrees for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto cooling racks and repeat with remaining dough.

Make the filling: Cook apples (or peaches) according to package directions. Add sugar and cinnamon and cook until combined. Cool.

Stack the cakes in layers, adding the apple filling and its juices between each layer. Allow the cake to sit overnight, covered, before cutting. Refrigerate remainders.

Makes 1 six-layer cake.

Note: This cake is best eaten fresh.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 sirio ross // Jan 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    The cake sounds very mouthwatering so I’ll give it a try. What is shortening? America is famous for its pies and cakes and I’d like to make a collection..

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