Dried Apple Stack Cake

Jill Sauceman

For the last meeting of the “Foodways of Appalachia” course each fall, Jill Sauceman makes a dried apple stack cake for the students, using this recipe that has been in her family well over 100 years.  This iconic mountain dessert is rarely found in restaurants.  With its thin layers and its fruit filling, it bears a kinship to the Torten of Germany. 

Stack Cake

1 pound dried tart apples

½ cup sorghum

½ cup sugar

½ cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

Approximately 4 ½ cups flour, plus enough for flouring the board when rolling out each layer

Cover dried apples with water and cook over medium low heat until most of the water is absorbed and the apples break up when stirred. If apples are not soft enough to break up, add more water and keep cooking. If desired, add a tablespoon or so of sugar to taste. Cool and run apples through a sieve or Foley Food Mill to produce a smooth sauce. Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients. Dough should be the consistency of stiff cookie dough. Separate dough into 5 to 7 balls. Roll each ball of dough to a 1/8- or ¼-inch thickness. Cut into 8- or 9-inch rounds. (Nevada Derting, my grandmother, used a pie pan with a scalloped edge to cut out rounds.) Prick each layer with a fork, making a nice design. Sprinkle individual layers with granulated sugar and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400° until golden brown (about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness). (Mrs. Derting sometimes baked her layers in iron skillets.) Cool and place the first layer on a cake plate. Spread a coating of cooked applesauce over the layer, within half an inch of the edge. Stack the other layers, alternating cake and applesauce and ending with a cake layer on top. Save the layer with the prettiest design for the top. Store covered in a cool place for several days before serving.