Kentucky Derby Dried Apple Stack Cake

Back in the day, the legend goes, James Harrod, founder of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, home of the Beaumont Inn, created the stack cake to serve as a stand-in for the expensive wedding cake for the brides in the Appalachian Mountains. Friends and neighbors would bring in cake layers to donate to the bride’s family, and the family would spread the apple filling on the layers as they arrived. As in pure Southern style, the number of layers was an indication of the popularity of the bride. The cake actually looks like a stack of pancakes, as they are thin cakes. Apples were used because they were readily available, and drying was a popular way of preserving the fruit.


The Kentucky Derby is only a few minutes long, so this gives you plenty of time to whip up this cake and serve it to your friends along with your Mint Juleps. Or maybe, in pure Southern style, why wait for a wedding, and invite your friends to bring their own cake layers and build your own stack. However, to be honest, it’s best to make the cake a day in advance and let it chill in the refrigerator over night.

This recipe is a “scratch version.” But feel free to skip that, use a yellow cake box mix, baked in layers, and top with each layer with apple topping.

Stack Cake Ingredients — from scratch

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    Add eggs gradually
    Slowly add milk and molasses.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger.
  3. Fold dry ingredients into creamed mixture.
  4. Divide dough into 8 equal portions and wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  6. Pat each portion of dough into an 8-inch pancake circle on greased baking sheets or parchment-lined sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let layers cool completely before stacking.
  8. Layer each cake layer with portions of reserved apple filling as you stack the cake.

Apple Topping/Filling

  • 18 ounces of dried apples
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Cook apples with just enough water to cover, until soft; mash thoroughly. Stir in sugar and spices. Cool before spreading between layers.

Cover with sprinkling of powdered sugar.  But remember… the kids may make it look like a blizzard hit.

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2 comments on “Kentucky Derby Dried Apple Stack Cake
  1. Pingback: New to Me: Appalachian Stack Cake | Kentucky Day Trips

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