Apple Stack Cake
Rarely is a dessert referred to as historic, but apple stack cake gets the honor. It has been written that there is no cake more rooted in Appalachian Mountain culture. In nineteenth century Appalachia, the apple stack was used as a community wedding cake, with several families each bringing a layer of the dough-sweetened bread that was then topped and held together with a crushed apple spread.
This recipe is for a 6 layer cake.
At least 2 standard 9-inch cake pans, preferably 3; offset spatula.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups apple butter
- Confectioners' sugar for garnish, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack to the middle position. Butter and flour the cake pans. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a hand-held mixer), cream the sugar, brown sugar and butter together at medium speed until quite fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.
- Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix just to combine, at medium-low speed. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix just to combine. Repeat, adding another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead four times to bring it all together, then roll into an even cylinder about 18 inches long. Cut the cylinder into six equal parts (each 3 inches long), then press each part into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 10-inch circle (use a light sprinkling of flour if it begins to stick). Using a cake pan as your guide, trim the dough into a perfect 9-inch circle, then lay it in a pan to bake. Repeat with one or two more pieces of dough depending on the number of pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the layers are lightly golden and just beginning to pull away from the sides, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the layers and set aside. When the pans are cool, butter and flour them once more and repeat the rolling, cutting and baking with the other dough rounds. Repeat step until 6 layers are complete.
- Assemble the cake: Choose your prettiest, smoothest "top" layer and set it aside. Choose your bottom layer and use an offset spatula to spread 1/2 cup apple butter over the top, all the way to the edges. Top with another cake layer and another 1/2 cup topping. Repeat three more times, then top with the prettiest layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, then sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar, cut into thin slices, and serve.