Dessert Cakes

East Tennessee Apple Stack Cake

The East Tennessee Apple Stack Cake is a Special Cake.

How do you define special?  How about when the mention of this cake brings back memories and traditions of my East Tennessee childhood. Could it be that this cake is so special because there was always this “one” person  with extra magic when making this cake and it became their signature cake.  Then there is always that one person who this cake was made for and waited all year for Christmas just to get this cake.  I would define the Apple Stack Cake as a special cake.

Apple Stack Cake with Apple Butter

Apple Stack Cake with Cooked Apples


My family called this Stack cake.   Old Fashion Apple Stack Cake, Tennessee Mountain Cake, Apple Pancake Cake and Molasses Apple cake are other common names for the East Tennessee Apple Stack cake.

Most versions of the Apple Stack Cake have Appalachian roots.  I can tell you that is cake is extremely popular where I grew up in East Tennessee, especially at Christmas time.

In the past, Stack Cakes were often served at weddings to bring together family and friends.  Families and neighbors would contribute bake layers and assemble the cake for the wedding reception.  Mountain-folk’s version of team building, who would have guessed?

How this cake reminds me of home.

Never Heard of an Apple Stack Cake?

Nope, it isn’t a pancake, cake.  Which is what my husband originally called the Stack Cake the first time he spent the holiday’s at my house.

If you can imaging a short bread cookie type dough baked thin as the layers with cooked cinnamon brown sugar apples between each layer, then you have a start on just how wonderful this cake is. But wait, the cake must sit at least overnight to soak the layer before serving.

Six Layers is a perfect size

Oh, That Cooked Apple Filling

The apples are cooked from dried or fresh apples.   The trick is to not have too much liquid in the apples.   This is a soaking cake and the layers will absorb the juices from the cooked apples.  I will seep my apples to drain excess liquid.    If you are short on time, substitute a good thick apple butter for the cooked apples.

This recipe  is the one that my Mamaw used for years. She is now 93 and hasn’t been able to bake for a couple years.   When I make this cake, I do in the tradition of her recipe.

Apple Stack Cake Bite

Apple Stack Cake Bite

As with all recipes, there are other versions of the “Stack Cake”,  some use buttermilk, molasses, brown sugar and butter.  Our family recipe is a  basic cookie/cake recipe very easily to be adapted t to your style and tastes.

Let’s Bake, Cake and Cookie!

Until next time….

East Tennessee Apple Stack Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 to 14 Cooking Time: 4 to 24 hours


  • 3 cups of self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of shortening or 1 cup of butter (not salted)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Flavor
  • 1 teaspoon of Lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups of cooked apples (see Brown Sugar Apples Recipe)



Sift flour and sugar together into a large mixing bowl


Cut in shortening, with a pastry cutter or fork and make a well


Add eggs (slightly beaten), Vanilla and Lemon extract


Mix, by hand, into a stiff dough - don't over mix, the dough needs to be tender


Chill dough, covered, for at least 2 hours


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees


Divide dough in to 5 portions


Grease and Flour 8 Inch round pans, or use "pan-grease" (see recipe for pan-grease)


With tips of fingers, pat the divided dough into each pan


Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Do not over-bake.


Invert layers onto parchment paper to cool, the layers will be hard once cooled.


For assembly of the cake, you should have 5 cooled layers and about 6 cups of cooled cooked apples. If the apples contain a lot of moisture, seep the apples to remove excess moisture.


To assemble, place one layer of cake on the plate and add enough apples to just cover the layer. The layers absorb moisture from the apples, you need to just cover or the cake will become too soft.


Place next layer on top of the apples and continue to build until all layers have been used.


Top the last layer of the cake with apples.


Place cake in an air tight container and let set at least 1 day or overnight before serving.


Let the Memories and Traditions begin!


The cake will soak up the moisture from the cooked apples. Just be careful with the amount of apples, only a thin layer of cooked apples are needed. Don't over sweeten the apples, when cooking. The flavor of this cake is almost that of a deconstructed apple pie, as the layers are very close to our pie crust recipe. The cake is not meant to be overally sweet and to focus on the apples. An airtight container is necessary to give the cake an environment to absorb the apples into the layers. The cake is best stored in the refrigerator.

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