Traditionally, guests at Appalachian gatherings would each contribute a layer to help construct the humble apple stack cake. And since the easy-to-make dessert uses apple butter (or in some versions a mix of dried apples and applesauce) instead of tree-ripe fruit to bind the layers together, it became popular at get-togethers year round. Its great fall flavor, though, makes for a sweet switch-up on a Turkey Day spread.
Kentucky native and pastry chef Stella Parks shares her take on the old-school cake. “It’s a rustic cake,” says Parks, who is currently at work on her first cookbook, out next fall. “So don’t worry if it leans or if patches show through the apple butter. This cake doesn’t have defects; it has character.”