Old Fashioned Stack Cake — 119 Comments

    • HI and yes it was made by hill billy people in southern Kentucky and parts of Appalachia in Virginia, and one of them was my granny she passed away at 103 years old in the early 2000 or so her name was Ruth Jackson. She aways made this recipe but she got the ingredients from locals esp the molasses, milk, butter and she dried her own apples from her apple tree. I was just telling my cousins how I would love to have this recipe to keep and to frame. My granny made this in an old cast iron skillet. I used to watch her make it and it took her days to do it. She always dried her apples during the harvest season and always dried them and put them into very large pickle jars once they were dried to store them in a cool dry place for safe keeping. She also dried her beens and make shuck beans they call them. Her beans were from her garden. No one could ever make this cake like my granny. And the ingredients were organic ones no fake stuff what so ever. It was a very rich cake and we only enjoyed it once a year on Christmas. It was my granny’s gift to us all and my relatives came and enjoyed the home made goodness. So many priceless memories. And to beat it all, you can’t get the fresh ingredients any more either. You can get some of them if you order them on line but not all of them unless you are fortunate to have some locals that have fresh cows milk and butter.

      • I dry my own apples etc… Love to gift this cake to anyone who enjoys the old fashion cake in my family.. Love traditions

      • Thank you, I love that story! I spent 8 years of my life in Harlan, Ky. and I remember my Mom making that cake. She got the recipe from a neighbor. Brought back great memories!

      • You are right. I’m 60 yrs old, from South Eastern Ky and both my grandmothers and mother made the stack cake. October is the best month for me to bake them, I can get fresh molasses (sorgums) and apples. This recipe is the closest to my grandmother’s with the exception of not spreading the apple sauce on top and sides. The cake needs to absorb the juice for a day to soften the cake layers so icing the top and sides help to seal it and allowing the cake to absorb the sauce making it evenly moist.

      • I think we may have the same Gtanny! LOL We dried bushels of apples on the barn roof. We also strung Green beans all the house but we called them leather britches and I was the biggest fan of them. Loved them,
        Mom also made pints of apple butter and there is nothing better than a hot biscuit and apple butter. We had moved to the north and no one had ever tasted apple butter but didn’t long to make fans out of them. Don’t get started on Granny’s chicken and dumplings. LOl

    • Yes us hillbillies have this every thanksgiving and Christmas. This one is the closest to my grandmas I can find. I’m going to try it. Keep your fingers crossed for me lol

  1. Saw this at Mushki Loves–looks great! I didn’t know the story behind stack cakes before reading this. You’ve inspired me to try making apple butter at home!

  2. When we were growing up, Mom made a dried apple stack cake for Christmas, also an old fashioned Jam cake. Both were so good!!

  3. Cooked, dried apples makes the best one! When we strung up the apples in the heat of summer, we were almost tasting the Christmas cake!

  4. I grew up eating stack cake made with homemade apple butter and jam cake made with homemade blackberry jam. My mother put caramel frosting on the jam cake. Both cake were delicious and not that hard to make.

  5. This Stack cake looks great but my family always used dried apples cooked with spices between layers. My mother dried the apples herself.

  6. Cake layers were baked in cast iron skillets. She would make up a big dish pan full of dough just as if she was making biscuits. Stack cakes were one of my favorites. My favorite was when she would used homemade applesauce between the layers.

  7. My mom use to make this. However, she would peel, core and cook fresh apples with brown sugar and cinnamon to put between the layers. The best thing about this cake is the longer it sits, the more juice it soaks up and becomes even more moist. YUM!

  8. My grandmother always baked this cake when I was a young girl and it was great. I loved to watch her make it and she taught me how to make it just like she did. And today I do bake one at least once a year at Thanksgiving . And when I do it bring back so many good memories of my grandmother.

  9. i have looked and looked for this recipe for a long time .i grew up watching my grandmother make really was a big hit in my family….thank you very much for me being able to find this …just here sauce was a lil different .she would use apple sauce and apple butter both in her mix by draining the excess juice from the apple sauce then she would add her apple butter and spices as in this and cook till it thickened ……AGAIN THANK YOU SO MUCH…..

  10. my grandma made these cakes all the time. she used dried apples. but when I make them I use granny smith apples. for then cooking liquid, I use ginger ale and add some brown sugar and cinnamon. they are so delicious and they bring back a taste of childhood.

  11. well i am a “hillbilly” from the appalachian mountains and this cake is a staple of our diets. Mostly made when we can our applebutter and the low cost makes it a weekday cake as we like to call it.

  12. I can’t believe I found this. When I was growing up, we had apple trees. One of our neighbors would come and pick apples, and as a thank you, she would always send back something baked with them. This was always my favorite. I have searched for years for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

  13. I remember my grandmother making this cake. She would alternate layers with apple butter and fried carmalized apples. Delish with homemade whip cream or vanilla ice cream. And like someone else posted about shuck beans. I remember sitting for hours with my gma, needles and thread to string up green beans to hang and dry out to become shuck beand. The good ole days indeed. Miss them

  14. We lived in the most southern/eastern part of Kentucky in Cranks and we had this recipe from generations past and my nice got rid of an old recipe book, by accident, with the hand-written recipe inside, We have been on the hunt for the same recipe since *not all are alike, thanks for sharing I’ve sent this to my mom to review

  15. I have been looking FORRRRRRREVERRRRRRR for this recipe my hillbilly side of my family ( dads side lol ) made this every holiday. And nobody got tired of it and it usually was bout gone by the time we left grandma and grandpas I am so freakin excited that I found this. I wish I could hug you right now ????? thanks you a bunch

  16. My Mom made this cake and I looked forward to coming home on leave from the Marines to have her stack cake. She made it all from scratch and apples she dried every year. Mom and Dad had 12 kids and this cake was a hit for all of us. I have her recipe and have made it myself. I could never make it as good as hers.

  17. Attending a family reunion, I asked an aunt (now passed) what kind of cake my grandmother took to reunions and she described this cake. A little different with applesauce in between layers and apple butter acting as frosting. Made it, took to area near Portsmouth OH and overheard raves about it and people asking, who brought Vonnie’s (Grandmother) cake? Family was also from southeast KY, Letcher County. Nothing better than preserving the best of the past. Thank you for the recipe and the memories.

  18. I just made this and for those who think it looks hard, it’s very easy. The layers are just like big cookies and I just splurged on disposable pans, 3 for $1.99–and I’ll use them again–to save some time. Thanks!!!

  19. My husband was talking about his Nanny’s apple sauce stack cake over the weekend, and wishing he knew how she made it. She passed away many years ago. I googled a recipe and he said this picture was the closest looking to what she made. I am going to surprise him with it on Christmas. I don’t think I will have time to make apple butter (I want to make it while he is on duty at the fire station so it will be a a surprise) so I bought spiced apple butter from Cracker Barrel. Do you think that will be ok?

  20. Mother n law asked me to fix het a stack cake,sooo i did. Couldnt have pleased her more! Cake was awesome!! And im the new favorite son n law. Thank you for the recipe and i’llbe fixing this again in the near future.

  21. This was one of my favorite family cakes. Going to make it this week. Mommy and Mamaw would make it in the winter so they could sit it out on the screened in back porch with pork that had been done up in November and December

  22. OH MY GOODNESS my mom made this cake once in awhile. My parents were born and raised in SE Kentucky, Knox Co. town of Barberville. They moved to IN. before I was born. My dear mom has been in Heaven for 4 yrs. and had Alzhimers years before passing. So this is bringing back fond, sweet memories. I think she only made 3 layers and cut them in half. Thank You so much 🙂 I so want to make this.

  23. My grandmother made this cake and I had been looking for the recipe for years so I could share it with my family. I am so grateful that you posted it! I was raised in the north, but I would always stay with my grandparents for a couple of weeks in the summer. She would always make this cake and again at Thanksgiving. I cannot wait to make it! Thank you again!

  24. My mother made this cake a few times a year. I was raised In Eastern Kentucky. A small place called Canada, Ky. I loved these cakes, and am so glad to have the recioe.

  25. Hillbilly is defined as Michigan dirt farmer.
    That being said, I grew up eating this cake, and have the original family recipe.
    I love this recipe, though, because it requires less work on my part.
    Thank you so much for this.
    I’m excited to try it. ❤

  26. I lived in Northern Alabama until I was 10. We moved to Kentucky and later I moved with my children to Southeastern Kentucky. We always had a apple butter stack cake at some point.I have wondered before but not enough to research the use of other fruit. You have saved me the trouble. I can envision peach stack cake and even persimmon makes a wonderful butter. Thanks for the lessons!

  27. My grandmomma Epperly would make this stack cake using homemade applebutter between each layer. I remember her in her kitchen just working away at this special cake for Christmas.
    Our families always looked forward to this specal cake… from our grandmomma Epperly.
    It was always something we looked forward to each year.
    Now I’m going to start this tradition myself. Starting this year.
    Can’t wait to get started and see what everyone thinks.
    Thank you so much for this recipe. My momma and I have been trying to find her recipe for years. This sounds just like the ones grandmomma Epperly always made.
    Thank you so much.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas
    Sincerely Bonnie Edney

  28. Thank you Sheryl my mom use to make this all the time but she never wrote the recipe down and she is now gone to heaven. She use to make hers with Jams, like blackberry, raspberry, etc…

  29. Every year on Christmas Eve my nana would make this cake & my mom was crazy about it! My nana has now passed on but I am so glad I found this recipe! I received my Nanas cake stand and I’m going to surprise my mom with this cake on Christmas eve. I’m so excited!

  30. My parents grew up in KY, (Laurel & Knox Co.’s). Mom’s mother made stack cake with apples she had dried from their trees. Mom said she rehydrated them on the stovetop with water, sugar & similar spices as the cake, leaving them somewhat chunky. However, all during my childhood, my mother made her version of Stack Cake with fresh, wild blackberries she had picked, cooked into an amazing compote/sauce! It was years before I found out apples were the more traditional version… but blackberries are SO good with the gingerbread cakes!… one of these days, I WILL try making it with apples just to tap into my more distant family heritage… but tonight, it’s Mom’s Blackberry version so MY kids get introduced to my childhood memories.

  31. Hi everyone. I grew up in kno x county and had an aunt in harlan. First the dried green beans. I helped my mom and my mammaw string them when I was a kid. As an adult I lived in Indiana and Michigan. My mom would cry the beans and mail them to me. One night we were all working real late. I still had not eaten my lunch. When everyone smelled.bunch/dinner warming and found out the infamous mail box beans was in my dish everyone wanted to taste them. By the my dish got back to me it was empty. They even ate my pork chop, fried potatoes and corn bread. Then they wanted to know when mom was going to send more mailbox beans. My cousins told me that they were also called leather britches. The stack was also called a wedding cake. Everyone would bring a layer and assemble it at the wedding. My cousins and maybe my mammas preferred dried apples. I prefer Apple butter so when I was was with her she used apple butter. I also used to sit on the porch with mammas and she would let me do the churning to make butter milk and butter such sweet memories. I am going to make this cake and have some of my friends come and share it with them thanks for the recipe.

  32. My apples are in the slow cooker as we speak. I am from Tennessee but grew up in Indiana. My mother alway made it for the holidays. She said when she was growing up it was the traditional wedding cake in the area. We dried bushels of apples every year. Mom’s dried apple fried pies were wonderful. I haven’t had this cake for many many years but so I am excited to add to my Christmas menu. Thanks for sharing.

  33. I live in Knox County, Kentucky in a little town called Gray. I have been looking for this recipe. My Granny and Mom made this cake with dried apples when I was growing up. The longer is sets the better it gets. I have my families dough board that has been pasted down for generations and would love to use it to make this cake. I has so many memories of that board watching my Mom make dumplings every Sunday for dinner after church. Thank you for this recipe.

  34. Always a treat at Thanksgiving & Christmas. This recipe is very close to my Mamaw’s but she used lard and four & 1/2 cups of flower. Also, she baked her’s on a cast iron griddle. I subistuited lard and the extra flower and it came out perfect!
    I used dried apples and made my own filling.

  35. I grew up with Grandma Hembree and my aunts, Garnedia (Narnee) and Marjorie making this cake often using Grandma’s homemade jarred applesauce/or butter (crab apples I think). The secret is that you need to let it sit overnight so the applesauce/butter has time to work through the layers. I don’t recall the molasses flavor, but I don’t have the recipe either, so this is the best I could find and probably did have molasses. Varied depending on light or dark, I suspect. They always seemed to use a square 8×8” cake pan. Funny how my memories work.
    What made it interesting is that my uncles Gene and Billy would make critical comments about the moistness. I can just about hear Grandma saying, Lard o’ Mercy honey child, pursing her lips and wondering why my uncles would look a gift horse in the mouth. Lord have Mercy, indeed. It certainly was a tradition for us all at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    I don’t recall Momma, Bertie Mae Hembree, making it ??? She just made pies and biscuits without measuring, just throwing the flour and lard together on the counter and creating the most flaky and succulent and beautiful pies you have ever seen, at times complete with acorn and leave pastry decorations on the top of the pies. No wonder I have such a tough time with both. She was a tough act to follow. Nonetheless, they were all skilled bakers.

    Now the recipes I’ve come across all have a way to make your own apple filling, one in a crockpot looks the simplest. That said: I still live by the creed: “Almost Homemade” so that may apply to the filling I use. Wink.

    Grandma Hembree was a Tennessee “hill billy”, so the comments about Appalachian hill folk hold just as true.

    Happy Fall you All.

    Post Script: In a phone conversation with my son who lives in Escondido California, I told him about the stack cake now being on my new bucket list. Over that weekend, he and his lady took a drive to Julian where he enjoyed the goodness of fresh apple pie, but also purchased a jar of Julian apple butter and then sent it to me for a “Fall Basket”. Julian of course is well known for its apple goods. My son is making sure I hit the bucket list running. LOL.

    • Hi Marshia, Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful memories with us. I love, love, love… hearing about the sweet memories food creates.

      • Sheryl, one more post script. I even contacted Pillsbury corporate offices/customer service to see if they had a recipe. Hence you are truly a Godsend as their people had no clue what I was asking about and thought it might be some sort of torte cake.
        Hope your holidays are joyous and delicious. No doubt they will be.

  36. Thank you so much for posting these comments. I am 73 years old and from southeast Ky also. I checked this recipe with my mothers recipe and is the closest To my recipe. Making one for Thanksgiving this year.

  37. I’m not much of a baker but found this recipe to be very interest love molasses cookies so figured we d try it. I cut recipe in half and used store bought apple butter. Although it took me 2 hours it came out nice. The 2 most difficult things are working with the sticky dough and waiting 24 hours before eating.

  38. Could I use a rolling pin to roll out thiner? I have trouble getting 6 layers out. Also my family loves this recipe! My dad remembers others making this in our family but no one had a recipe or made it anymore. So glad you posted it and I found it! Thanks again!!!

    • Hi Andrea, I’m so glad the recipe brought back sweet memories. You can use a rolling pin as long as it’s small enough to fit (like a pizza rolling pin) in the pan. The dough is too tender to be moved from a the counter to the pan once rolled.

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