A True Appalachian Dessert
What’s your favorite dessert? One of my many is strawberry shortcake, so I enjoyed making that last evening. But even as I served the dish to friends, I thought about the “sweets” Zetta Berghoffer, the main character in Zetta’s Dream: An Appalachian Coal Camp Novel, would have served to her family. #SAldrich_ZettasDream. Here’s her 1922 recipe:
Zetta’s Dried Apple Stack Cake
½ cup shortening
½ cup molasses
1 well-beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk (or add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk)
Cream together shortening and molasses. Add 1 well-beaten egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix together flour, baking soda, ginger, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add to other ingredients along with buttermilk. Mix well. Shape into four or five balls—depending on how thick you want the layers. Pat into pans to form 9-inch rounds about ¾ to an inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Let cool. Then stack with dried apple filling (below) between each gingerbread round.
If Zetta had prepared more apples than what she needed to spread between the layers, she would have spread the apple mixture over the top and sides of the cake to provide extra moisture. I prefer to keep the gingerbread dry.
Apple Filling: Cook three or four cups previously dried apples in water (may have to add more liquid as they cook). Mash apples after cooking. Add sugar to taste. Spread between each gingerbread layer.
Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!