Once upon a time, people in Appalachia were poor and didn’t have much. (Now too many of them are poor and have lots of stuff, but that’s another post.) When it came time for a wedding there was no question of going down to the bakery to flip through pages of glossy photos while tasting the lemon, vanilla, and almond cake variations.There usually wasn’t even the possibility of getting Mom or Grandma or Great Aunt Eulah to bake a fancy cake. No one had enough to make a cake big enough to a whole wedding’s worth of people. Enter the stack cake.
The idea was that each family attending the wedding would bring a layer for the cake. Once everyone gathered, the layers–typically made with sorghum and ginger–would be stacked with dried apples that had been stewed in between. No one could afford to bake the whole cake, but they could usually manage one layer.
Of course, it could turn into something of a competition. The more popular the bride and groom, the more attendees, and the more layers to the cake. A delicious, Appalachian tradition!
If you’d like to read more about stack cake or try your hand at making one, check out this page from Appalachian Heritage Magazine. Wouldn’t it be fun to send the recipe out, then have a church potluck or family gathering and assemble one of these?