I could regale you all with tales of my travels but suffice it to say every waiter, restaraunt manager and or grocery store clerk from here to East Jesus Indiana hates my guts and there are probably post-office type WANTED posters hanging in every Cracker Barrell, Applebees, Ruby Tuesdays and
I suppose those places are okay for some people but if you have food allergies or special dietary needs they look at you like you have 3 heads, flounce off to the kitchen to grudgingly read the micro print on a salad dressing jug...IF they bother at all. Or (if you find youself in the twilight zone between food and engineered sustenence), turn their heads and bellow at the fry cook..."Leroy, you ain't got nuthin that ain't got no eggs in it do ya? Nope. How 'bout that grease? It ain't olive oil is it? Naw. Well then, you can't make nuthin with no vegetable in it can you? Nevermind. Nah...we ain't got none'a that stuff here lady. Where you think you are...Applebees?" I don't know where Guy Fieri finds all those amazing diners that serve duck confit tacos and pheasant breast sandwiches because they never end up on my route! I always manage to take the fork in the road that leads to food bourne illness and frequent restroom stops.
Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was literally DYING to cook something. Cleaning out and packing up my mother's house was kind of a trip down memory lane. She is like a clearing house for all the family heirlooms that nobody else would bother to save. The little scraps of paper where some old aunt scribbled down a recipe for potato candy, a napkin that has someone's "famous" jello mould recipe scrawled on it...you know, all the minutia that goes largely unnoticed in families.
There among the heaps of photo albums, tiny shoes and locks of baby hair, lay some real treasures where recipes are concerned. As a child, I remember being fascinated by my grandmother's Apple Stack Cake. It was one of those weird things like fruitcake; the older it gets, the better it tastes. I haven't seen an honest to goodness old fashioned stack cake since I was 8 or 9 years old. Of course you know, I had to make it as soon as I got home!
Now my grandmother's recipe is delicious just the way it is but I did put my own little spin on it. Sorry for the booze granny but I didn't drink any...just cooked with it!
This cake is easy but it does take a little time to make and really must be wrapped and chilled for 24 hours for best results. The cake layers are thin and somewhat crisp. It is the juice from the cooked dried apples (and a little sprinkle of Apple Jack) that moistens them up. The cake needs some time to soak up all that love before you dig into it.
Here it...my grandmother's old fashioned Apple Stack Cake (with a little extra sump'n sump'n from me).
Old Fashioned Apple Stack Cake
You'll want to begin by making the apple filling with:
- 5 cups organic dried apples
- 1 cup unbleached cane sugar
- 1 quart apple cider
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Place the apples and sugar in a large sauce pan. Cover with apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add spices and simmer until apples are tender. Optional: add 1/2 cup Apple Jack, Apple Brandy or Spiced Rum. Continue cooking until apples are completely soft and can easily be mashed with a fork. If more liquid is necessary, add more cider or water. Your apples should be thick and not watery. Cool and use to fill stack cake.
To make the cake:
3/4 cup organic palm shortening
3/4 cup unbleached cane sugar
2/3 cup unsulphered molasses
1 whole organic egg and 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (may sub vanilla extract)
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need to grease and flour your 9" round baking pans. This recipe makes 5 layers so unless you have 5 pans, you'll have to do them a couple at a time.
- In a large bowl, beat palm shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the sugar about 2 Tablespoons at a time. This process should take nothing less than 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mixture should be very light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle the molasses into the mixture while beating. Add the egg and egg yolk, vanilla paste or extract and buttermilk. Always beat the buttermilk in gradually so as not to "break" the mixture.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat into the shortening mixture in 3 or 4 additions. You may need to finish mixing by hand. The dough will be thick, like cookie dough.
- Divide dough into 5 equal portions; this can be done with a 1 cup measure. Pack the dough into the cup and mound slightly. Press each portion of dough out into prepared baking pan and bake on center rack in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then invert onto cooling rack to remove cake layer. Repeat until all are baked.
- Optional: Pour some apple brandy or rum into a cup and use a pastry brush to brush onto cake layers. Alternately, you can use more of the apple cider for brushing the cakes. Place first layer on platter and spread with cooled, cooked apple mixture. Top with next layer and repeat. Continue until all layers and apple filling are used. I also cover the sides and top lightly but you do not have to. Wrap the cake well and refrigerate for 24 hours before cutting.
Serve with a dollop of sweetened, cinnamon spiked sour cream...yum!
(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet