Appalachian Apple Stack Cake
Appalachian Apple Stack Cake, known by several names-dried apple cake, washday cake, gingerbread cake-the elements of an Appalachian apple stack cake are essentially the same: dried apples and hearty disks of dough are married; the apples stewed, spiced, mashed and spread atop each pancake-like layer. The resulting texture is thick and tactile on the plate. Apples, and sorghum offer a touch of sweetness, allowing the cake to retain it's stick-to-the-ribs character.
Several states lay claim to the cake, but it is widely believed it was brought to Kentucky by James Harrod, the founder off Harrodsburg, in the mid -1700s. Legend states the confection was used as a wedding cake, with family members and friends baking and contributing their own layer. The more layers on the cake, the more popular the bride. This romantic lore is up fore debate. The history of this humble cake is that, once assembled, the cake must
sit for at least 2 days before being cut. Regardless of the cake's history, there's no doubt the cake is a labor of love.
Appalachian food and folklore hold a special place in my heart, as I was born in Pikeville, Kentucky and most of my family are in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains now.
Appalachian Apple Stack Cake Recipe
1 1/2 lbs. dried apples
1 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
5-7 c. water
1. Place the dried apples. light brown sugar cinnamon, and nutmeg in a succe pan. Add enough water to just cover (approximately 5 to 7 cups) and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for an hour or more, until the mixture has reduced and the apples have softened, add more water if the mixture begins to dry out as it cooks. Continue to simmer until nearly all the water has been absorbed..
3. Break down the apples with a potato masher. Remove from the heay and set aside.
2/3 unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. sorghum
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
5 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a mixer on low speed, cream the butter, sugar, and sorghum until smooth and well combined. Add eggs, one a time, making sure the first egg is well incorporated before adding the second egg. Add vanilla, grated ginger and ground ginger.
3. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl with the sugar and spices, and combine well. Next add 1/2 c. buttermilk, mix to blend all the second half of the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour and scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that the dough is smooth and well incorporated.
5. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Using a measuring cup, scoop one cup of the dough into a pan. Using well floured hands or a knife, spread the dough along the bottom of the pan, smoothing over any holes that are created. The dough will be approximately one quarter of an inch thick. Repeat for the second pan.
6. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until light golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Place a plate over top of the cake pan. Wearing an oven mitt, carefully turn the pan and plate upside down, so that the cake will fall out of the pan onto the plate.
7. Transfer the warm cake to a cake stand and top with 1/2 cup (or more) of the stewed apples. Turn out the second cake from the pan and slide it on top of the apple-covered first layer. Add the apples to the second layer of cake.
8. Wipe away any remaining crumbs from the cake pans, re-grease, and repeat until all of the cake batter has been baked. This recipe should yield five cake layers.
9. Layer each cake with the apples, with the exception of the top layer. Cover cake tightly with three layers of plastic wrap and place a clean dish towel on top. Allow the cake to rest at least two days before slicing.