The heart of our business is "Preserving Tradition", keeping alive the history of previous generations' wisdom, creativity and inventiveness for the next generation. There are many self-sustaining traditions found back in hills of the Southern Appalachians. I love this recipe because it highlights the hard work and history of our region, pulling it all together into a heart warming slice of delicious goodness that makes your mouth yearn for yesteryear.
Apple Stack Cake is a southern Appalachian novelty, individually cooked layers of almost cookie like cake stacked with cooked apples in between. Some recipes call for sorghum molasses and spices, some dried apples that have been chopped and reconstituted in a saucy syrup, others use applesauce or apple butter between the layers.
There are many variations, so we pulled our favorite characteristics from church cookbooks and historical compilations across the Smoky Mountains to create our own twist on this traditional mountain dessert. Our stack cake was made with sorghum syrup pressed and cooked right here on a farm in Haywood County, NC. If you can't find sorghum syrup, standard dark molasses will work as well.
Farms throughout the country used to often grow sorghum cane which resembles incredibly tall corn stalks, the cane is then stripped and run through a press with two rollers that squeezes all the juice from the cane. Often this process is accomplished the old-time way with a horse operated press. Once squeezed the juice is cooked into a this dark syrup. There's a great post on sorghum making on this blog about Appalachian History. The addition of this syrup with ginger and cinnamon makes cake layers which are reminiscent of a chewy molasses cookie.
Each layer of this cake is cooked individually. You may roll out the dough and cut the circles by hand, then bake them on a sheet pan for an irregular, old fashioned look. We prefer more uniformity, so we pressed the dough into the bottom of carefully lined cake pans. The trick with the cake pans is to lightly grease and line just the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper or foil to prevent sticking. When you remove the cakes from the oven immediately run a knife along the sides of the cake, and only let them cool a minute or two in the pans before turning out the layers while they are still warm (this prevents sticking). If you're reusing the same pans to cook the multiple layers, re-grease and line with fresh paper between each use.
Spread a layer of Apple Butter over each layer and carefully stack, if you've cooked your layers in cake pans, you can spread a layer of Apple Butter around the outside to give it a smooth look. Leave the top bare to be sprinkled with powdered sugar later. Preparing your cake the day before allows the layers to absorb the moisture and flavor from the Apple Butter creating a moist and flavorful cake! Dust the top with powdered sugar before serving. In another tribute to mountain traditions we like to top with chunky Apple Pie Moonshine Jam for an extra kick of flavor and toast to the self sustaining spirit of our adopted ancestors!
If you'd like to try out this taste of Southern Appalachia for yourself, our Apple Stack Cake Recipe Collection Box includes two jars of Harvest Spice Apple Butter, Apple Pie Moonshine Jam and a beautifully printed recipe card. Find this and other recipe gift boxes in our online store!