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Memories Create Traditions

When I posted a picture on Facebook of the last pieces of a dried apple stack cake, my friends’ comments ranged from memories to compliments to requests.  Oh, how I miss my grandmother’s stack cake.  Apple stack cake is a family favorite for generations!  My mom used to make stack cakes – what a sweet memory.  Looks yummy!  Will you share the recipe?

After reading the comments and scrolling through the list of friends who hit ‘Like’ and ‘Love,’ I put this week’s topic on hold and decided dried stack apple cake warrants a column.

In case someone isn’t familiar with this cake, it’s a layered cake of very thin cake layers, cut ¼” thick and baked like large cookies, and dried apple filling. If you like the flavors of gingerbread or molasses cookies and apple butter, you’ll like it.  It’s not difficult – just takes time.

For those who requested the recipe, it’s online at https://susanrray.com/recipes/  I could have filled this column with the recipe, but a list of ingredients and the directions really aren’t the story of this cake that brings memories and is liked by many.

I’m not sure the recipe I use is the one Mom used because apple stack cake wasn’t always one of my favorites so I never asked her for the recipe.  Besides, she made it every Christmas so I didn’t need the recipe.   Mom died in 1991 and that Christmas was the first time I made this cake. I’m still using a recipe printed in a small flyer, found among Mom’s recipe collection, that was prepared by the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association in Clinton, Tennessee.  

After making the cake, I wrote notes beside the Old Fashioned Stack Cake recipe: “Christmas ‘91.  Used 3 ivy leaf plate. 7 layers. 7 minutes.”  My note identified a 9 ¼” Blue Ridge plate decorated with three ivy leaves.  It was the only Blue Ridge plate that was in Mom’s kitchen cabinet and I remembered she laid it on the rolled-out cake dough to cut the layers.  The recipe made seven layers and each baked seven minutes.

That first year, I made it to connect with Mom and because Dad and Daughter really liked it.  Now, thirty-one years later, it’s also a favorite of most of my Grands and mine.  I usually make it for Christmas, but this year Son’s and Daughter’s families were here for Thanksgiving.  A young Grand smacked her lips and asked for seconds and a teen-age Grand ate it for breakfast.   

This cake gets better the longer it sits – at least for six days when I savored the last piece. I baked it several days before serving, covered it, and stored it in the refrigerator.  After the apple filling seeps into the cake layers, it becomes more moist, more delicious. 

            Aren’t there foods we like because we first ate them while sitting at our parents’ and grandparents’ kitchen tables?  

Bake the cake.  Create the memories. Continue the tradition.

(When I took the picture above, a reflection from my kitchen prism just happened to be on the cake. Another memory, another tradition: Mom always had a prism hanging in a window.)

Christmas 2021


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