A local family’s cookbook was featured in December’s edition of Our State Magazine, bringing four generations of cooking traditions to North Carolina readers.
The cookbook, called Kitchen Keepsakes from the Owen’s Family, is a collection of recipes by the numerous descendants of Luther and Myrtie Owen.
The recipe that garnered the attention of Our State Magazine was the famous Owen’s family stack cake. The recipe was also featured in a 1990 article in the Jefferson Post.
In the days before Christmas, Nada Sheets begins preparing apples for the stack cake the same way her mother, Ethel Owen Sheets, prepared hers.
Stuart also learned this recipe from her mother, and was proud to pass on the tradition to her three daughters.
Now Sheets, along with her two sisters, is part of the forth generation to use the recipe. Each Christmas since her mother’s death in 2002, Sheets has made a stack cake. Her six children, 14 grand children and four great-grandchildren know Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.
Old-Fashioned Stack Cake
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup shortening
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
dash of salt
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 ½ cups dried apples
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour several 10-inch cake pans, and set aside. Sift together baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice in a bowl; set aside. Combine sugar, shortening, and molasses, and beat until smooth. Add Buttermilk, eggs, spices, and salt. Mix well. Add flour, about a cupful at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter (it should be stiff) into 10 portions among the prepared pans. With spatula, spread batter to cover bottom of baking pan. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove cakes, turn out on wire racks, and let cool.
In processor, pulse apple slices into small bits. Put apples into a large saucepan of dutch oven. Sprinkle with apple pie spice and sugars. Cover with liquid to about two inches above apples. Bring to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, about three minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer until apples are tender and most, but not all liquid is absorbed and makes thickened sauce (about 30 minutes). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, let cool.
To make the cake, place one layer on cake plate. Spread thin layer of apple filling on top and repeat with each layer, leaving the top layer plain. Let cake stand several hours or overnight. Dust top with powdered sugar.
- Ethel Owen Stuart and Wendy Perry
Unfortunately, Kitchen Keepsakes from the Owen Family is no longer available in print.