Apple Stack Cake
|Mid-Atlantic Foods||New England Foods|
Please note: As of December 2021, this is a new page and under development. We plan to add other regions and additional foods over time, so please check back!
Apple Stack CakeEntry created: 2 December 2021
Classic stack cakes consist of a mildly ginger-flavored cookie-like dough and a sweetened, spiced apple filling made from dried apples. The amount of layers vary from cook to cook, but typically there would be between six to eight layers. While some recipes have included peach or blackberry filling, apple filling was more common due to the ready supply of dried apples, apple butter, apple cider, and applesauce in households. Fillings that used applesauce would be boiled down with extra sugar and spices, while fillings with dried apples would be boiled with apple cider. Modern cooks would buy their own dried apples, but in the past cooks would dry their own apples in the fall and winter.
The apple stack cake also has many names, including poor man's fruit cake, Confederates old-fashioned stack cake, Appalachian stack cake, Kentucky stack cake, Kentucky's washday cake, and dried apple stack cake.
There are two versions of the origins of the apple stack cake. The first comes from the founder of Harrodsburg, James Harrod, who brought the first stack cake from Pennsylvania to Kentucky. But it wouldn't be until 100 years later that the cake became more common due to the rise in flour availability. The second origin is somewhat doubtful due to the nature of the stack cake. A claim said that stack cakes were popular for weddings because "mountain people couldn't afford big layered wedding cakes." Women in town would bring a layer of the cake to the wedding while the bride's family would make the apple filling. You could also see the popularity of a bride by how many layers her cake was. While the idea of Appalachian communities helping each other for the wedding makes sense because of other instances of communities helping each other, this claim is doubtful because a proper apple stack cake would take at least two days to be ready.
Kilt SaladEntry created: 2 December 2021
Kilt salad can go by different names in the Appalachian region: Killed, Wilted, or Smothered Lettuce. It is a green salad with a hot bacon grease dressing to wilt or "kill" the greens. In the past, it was a spring salad that was enjoyed after a long winter season of soup beans and cornbread. Early mountaineers would gather wild greens or garden lettuce and green onions for the salad, but modern convenience has brought more varieties to recipes, such as spinach, iceberg lettuce, romaine, bib lettuce, and other leaf lettuces. There are also variations in preparing the salad. The most common way is to pour a stream of hot bacon grease over the chosen greens, but other methods include stirring the greens in a hot skillet with the grease or using hot buttermilk or hot vinegar instead of bacon grease.
Kilt salad has its influence from outside of the region as salads topped with hot bacon grease to wilt the greens were popular. Two additions of The Joy of Cooking feature wilted salads made with a cream dressing. Overseas, the French cookbook Food and Friends, calls the Lorraine dressing and adds it to dandelion greens. In the French region of Alsace, their version of a kilt salad involves cabbage wilted in hot water and then doused in hot bacon fat, vinegar, and olive oil.
Leather BritchesEntry created: 2 December 2021
Leather britches are mature, dried green beans. These preserved beans are made by stringing the beans and hanging them up to dry. These strings can go up to 5 feet in length. The location of where to dry them varies. Some place the strings in the sun while others say that changes the flavor and keeps them inside rafters or hallways of homes.
Like many other Appalachian foods, preparing leather britches can also be a community event. Communities can gather together with large baskets of green beans to prepare leather britches.
Pepperoni RollsEntry created: 2 December 2021
Fun fact: Pepperoni rolls are the official food of West Virginia!
Created by Giuseppe Agiro in 1927 for coal miners in Fairmont, West Virginia, the pepperoni roll is an instance of immigrant influence on the food of Appalachia. The roll consists of white yeast-leavened bread with pepperoni in the middle. When baked, the fats in the pepperoni melt into the bread to give it a spicy taste. As these rolls do not need to be refrigerated after cooking, they were an ideal lunch option for miners. It resembled the British sausage roll and the Italian calzone. The family of Giuseppe Agiro still makes the pepperoni rolls at the Country Club Bakery.
Ramp(s)Entry created: 2 December 2021
Also known as wild leeks, Ramp is a wild onion that is growing in popularity in the food world. It is a spring plant that grows very slowly and is hard to cultivate. It can be found in clumps under deciduous trees, like sugar maples, birch, and poplar. Ramps were favored by the Cherokee for their nutritional value as they are high in vitamin C and have blood-cleansing properties.
As it tastes like a mixture of onion, leek, and garlic, the strong flavor can be utilized in many ways. Common ways include eating ramps raw, fried, boiled, stewed, or scrambled with eggs. Fried ramps can be eaten with staple Appalachian foods like cornbread, biscuits and gravy, and soup beans. Other unique recipes include ramp candy, ramp meatloaf, and ramp pie.
Ramps have an importance in many communities of Appalachia that there are numerous ramp celebrations across the region. In Richwood, West Virginia, the city is known for being the ramp capital of the world and hosts a Ramp festival each year in the spring to celebrate the plant. But due to its growing popularity, ramp populations have declined, leading to bans on foraging in many state run forests.
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New England Foods