Preserving tradition: Appalachian Food Storybank collects tales of mountain meals

Apple stack cakes
Dried apple stack cake

This recipe is an adaptation by Appalachian Food Storybank founder Susannah Gebhart from a recipe card from Zara J. Walker of Bryson City. It uses half the sweeteners of the original recipe with some additional adaptations. Please note: Measurements are not precise, so use your judgment.
½ cup molasses
½ cup sugar
1½ sticks of butter, soft
1 egg
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Approximately 4 cups all-purpose flour (The original recipe calls for “enough flour to make a stiff dough.” You may need to add a bit more. If it tastes like a good cookie dough, you are on the right track.)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
16 ounces dried apples
Apple cider or water
Red wine (optional)
Place the dried apples in a large pot and pour over enough cider or water to cover. You can add a splash or two of red wine for a more French take on the thing. Bring to a healthy simmer and allow the apples to hydrate and cook. (Add spices and sugar to taste, if desired, and additional cooking liquid if necessary). Cook until the apples break down significantly (there will still be some small chunks) and the mixture thickens, to some state between applesauce and apple butter. Set aside and let cool.
Cream the butter and add the sugar and molasses. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and buttermilk to the butter-sugar mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices (¼ teaspoon each nutmeg and ginger, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon or more to suit your taste). With your hands or a spatula, add the flour mixture in two parts to the butter mixture. Fold until incorporated. Wrap the dough, in two discs, if necessary, in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly but evenly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch and cut into 6-inch rounds. Bake at 350 degrees on parchment-lined cookie sheets until cookies are baked. They will still be a little spongy.
After the cake layers have cooled, place one on a plate, spoon some of the apple mixture on and spread in a thin layer evenly over the surface. Add another cake and repeat, stacking up the layers. Place apples on the top layer. If you have extra apples, you can enjoy them as a compote or make a chutney. Wrap up the cake and let it sit overnight at a cool room temperature.
Recipe courtesy of Susannah Gebhart


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