Appalachian Stack Cake with Apple-Bourbon Sauce

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake:25 min. + cooling


8 servings

Updated: Jun. 27, 2023
My version of a completely traditional Appalachian stack cake was inspired by the way my ancestors would have made it many moons ago. All the ingredients are there: dried apples, a stiff dough, molasses and apple butter. My only flair is adding a bourbon sauce to drip over the edges and right into your heart. —Lauren May, Must Love Herbs
Appalachian Stack Cake with Apple-Bourbon Sauce Recipe photo by Kandi Zadel Photography


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 cups dried apples
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups apple butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 5 greased 6-in. round baking pans with parchment. In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and molasses until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture may appear curdled). In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  2. Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  3. For the sauce, in a large heavy saucepan, combine apples, brown sugar, water and bourbon. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until apples are soft and pliable, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butter. Cook and stir, uncovered, until sauce is thin and syrupy, 5-10 minutes longer. Remove from heat; cool completely.
  4. Using a long serrated knife, trim tops of cakes if domed. Spread 1 tablespoon apple butter on a rimmed serving plate; top with 1 cake layer. Spread with about 1/3 cup apple butter. Top with 2/3 cup apple and bourbon sauce. Repeat layers. Drizzle any remaining sauce from apple mixture over top of cake. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.
Cake Layer Sizes
Appalachian stack cakes usually have a lot of cake layers stacked on top of each other. You can also make this using 9-in. cake pans for a four-layer cake.
Apple Butter
This recipe was tested with commercially prepared apple butter.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 1195 calories, 30g fat (18g saturated fat), 121mg cholesterol, 705mg sodium, 223g carbohydrate (154g sugars, 7g fiber), 12g protein.