Appalachia Appalachian Food

How To Make An Apple Stack Cake

traditional apple stack cake from appalachia

I’m finally ready to show you how I made my first Apple Stack Cake. More Than Moonshine: Appalachian Recipes and Recollections by Sidney Saylor Farr is one of my favorite Appalachian Cookbooks. I used Ms. Farr’s recipe for my Apple Stack Cake, actually according to the cookbook the recipe is her Mother’s. Ms. Farr says you can use fresh apples to make the cake-but you get a much richer taste by using dried apples. (use dried apples if at all possible)


Apple Stack Cake

Part 1: the cake

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup sorghum syrup
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any buttermilk-so I used the handy substitution of putting 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice into my 1/2 cup measuring cup and filling it the rest of the way with whole milk)
  • 3 1/2 cup plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together sugar and shortening.

Add egg, sorghum, and buttermilk-mix well.



Sift together flour, soda, salt, and ginger.

Ms. Farr says to make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients; add the creamed mixture; and stir until blended.

Since I was using my mixer-I added the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture a little at a time until the mixture was blended well. I added the vanilla and mixed again till the consistency was like a soft cookie dough.

Making layers for apple stack cake


You’ll need to add additional flour as you roll out the dough to make the layers. The layers need to be the size of a 9 inch pan. I’m sure you’ll figure out your own way to do this step-but what I did was similar to what we did in the cooking class. First I shaped the dough into a loaf shape and divided it into equal portions. The recipe said it would make 7 layers, but I ended up with 8 layers and 2 cookies!

Apple filling for stack cake


Using the bottom of my 9 inch cake pan for a template, I drew a circle on a piece of parchment paper. Using the circle as a guide: I rolled the dough out to slightly larger than the circle; laid the 9 inch cake pan on the dough and cut around the edges.

I baked the layers at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes until they were light brown. Baking the layers is the most time consuming part of making the cake. I lined my pans with parchment paper-that way I didn’t have to worry about greasing the pans or washing between bakings-since I was able to use the same paper for all the layers.

Once the layers were baked I set them aside to cool on a rack.

Apple stack cake 1


Part 2: Apple filling

  • 1 pound of dried apples (I used 4 cups of dried apples)
  • water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice


Cover apples in a pot with water and cook; keep a fairly close eye on the apples as you may have to add additional water while they cook. Once apples are soft enough to mash, add the other ingredients and mix well.

placing layers of apple stack cake


Part 3: Assembly

Place a cake layer on a cake plate and spread with apple filling. Repeat until you reach the last layer.

Whether you put apple filling on the top layer is up to you. Many cooks put apple filling all over the outside of the cake-just like you would any other icing.

Topping stack cake with powdered sugar


Since I wanted to recreate what I made at the folk school, I didn’t put apple filling on top of the cake, but I did sprinkle it with powdered sugar. During the class, the students used ivy leaves as stencils for their powdered sugar.

I left the cake sitting on the counter till the following day. I believe the recipe said to place it in the frig-but I forgot-and it didn’t seem to hurt the cake at all. I did refrigerate what wasn’t eaten once it was cut.

Custard sauce


Part 4: Custard Sauce

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups half-n-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Custard sauce is not part of the traditional apple stack cake recipe-however it makes a good thing an even better thing. I had never made custard sauce before the cooking class at the folk school-but since the class I have made it as an accompaniment for all sorts of desserts.

To make the sauce: beat yolks in a metal bowl that will fit over a saucepan in the manner of a double boiler. As you beat the yolks, add sugar a little at a time.

Once sugar is added, increase the mixer speed-scraping bowl as needed-and beat until mixture is thick and lemon colored.

Add half-n-half and mix well. Move bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook custard over water stirring often until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add vanilla and salt. Remove from heat and cool in frig or by immersing in a bowl of ice water.

The custard will be thin-it will thicken up slightly once it cools but not very much.

Apple stack cake from brasstown nc


Part 5: EAT

After the apple stack cake has sit over night-slice a thin piece (or a thick piece) and drizzle custard over it or under it (or don’t drizzle custard over it or under it) and eat!

If you like apples and sweet spicy cinnamony things-you will think this is one of the best cakes ever-at least this bunch does.

If you give the recipe a try, let me know how your cake turns out.



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  • Reply
    Sandra Coggins
    February 14, 2017 at 10:30 am

    This is the only cake that I ever remember my Grandma Jones baking…..She would put it in a old fashion cupboard….it had to just sit there for several days before she would ever cut it!!! YUM!!!

  • Reply
    Barbara N Gantt
    December 21, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    My Granny Nichols made what she called a Stack of Arrangements. She used leftover biscuits,sliced them in half, layered them with cooked apples. She would use canned applesauce if that was all she had. Same idea but maybe a way to use up the leftovers in hard times. Dont know if anyone else has heard of this. Barbara

  • Reply
    February 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    This sounds just wonderful, but as I am diabetic, I’ll have to take everyone’s word that it is.
    Darnitall! LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, Ph.D.
    February 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Hey Tipper: This cake looks ‘low’ on caloric count and ‘high’ on the good scale.
    When are you all going to perform over in Blairsville, GA at the Old Court House? I want to get that DATE on my calendar. Maybe I will be able to determine Chitter from Chatter after another fantastic performance!
    Best regards,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Barry-it is half milk half cream. In the US you can buy it in a carton in the dairy isle of the grocery store-many people use it as cream in their coffee. Hopefully you have something similar up there : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Barry upward
    February 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Tipper; Is half and half ,Refering to milk and water. Barry.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Ormond Paul
    February 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Looks yummy, I’m thinking of all the fruits that would make a great variation too.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I never knew just what my mama went through to make one of these,
    without the custard. You sure pay
    attention to detail and the ivy
    leaves give it special attention.
    I bet the gal that runs this blog
    is pretty dog-gone smart…Ken

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    February 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    My Mother was raised in Dillsboro and put vanilla custard on most all cobblers and apple stack cake. Wish that I had a plateful of stack cake now with custard!!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Oh, my! What a wonderful way to end the week. I can’t wait to try this, that is after I secure some dried apples. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    February 15, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Looks and sounds delicious! Much fancier and different than the ones I’ve known all my life. I always enjoy your recipes. Every time I fix Granny’s Cobbler my guests love it—they say it’s the best they’ve ever eaten. I always tell them it’s thanks to Granny’s recipe, my friends now call it the “Blind Pig Cobbler”. I’m still going to fix the Arsh potato cake in a sheet pan, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

    That cake looks and sounds delicious! I am going to have to try to make one of these soon. Wish I had a piece to go with my coffee this morning. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Could enjoy some of it now to go with this cup of coffee. Sounds delicious and easy to make.Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 7:37 am

    That’s got my mouth watering this morning! I’ll have to look around and see if I can procure some dried apples!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 6:59 am

    Wow! That looks like one delicious cake, Tipper! Thanks for the detailed instructions. Don’t know if I’d have the courage to try making it myself, but it’s a good reason to dry a lot of apples this coming year!

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