Top: Strawberry Jam Stack Cake from Sweet Auburn Desserts, photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn. Here’s the recipe. Middle photo from TheSimpleElements.com. Here’s the recipe. Bottom photo from Maman Bakery Cafe | NYC.
Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? If you have nothing going on, why not round up a group of friends and neighbors and have a stack cake party?
What’s a stack cake?
STACK CAKE HISTORY
Stack cake is an old-fashioned concept from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It originated as a wedding cake alternative in that economically-challenged region.
Each guest or family would bring a layer for the cake, and the bride’s family would provide the filling. The layers would be assembled at the party.
The result: a rustic layer cake with no icing but lots of heart.
Beyond weddings, stack cake parties were another way for people to get together to exchange recipes and gossip.
Many types of cake layers could be brought, from sponge-like layers to cookie-like layers. In order stop the typical seven or eight layers from toppling over, each layer was sometimes pressed very flat.
These days, another un-iced cake, called naked cake, is enjoying its moment. Unlike stack cake, the whole naked cake is made by one person, in one flavor. The sides of the cake aren’t iced, although the top usually is.
Rather than an economical way to assemble a cake, naked cake economizes on calories and labor, by not frosting the sides.
YOUR STACK CAKE PARTY
You never knew exactly how the layers would add up. Even if you told everyone to bring an eight-inch layer of yellow cake or chocolate cake…well, what are the odds that they’d match, even if you provided a recipe?
Besides, isn’t it more fun if to have a pot luck cake with different layers: carrot, chocolate, devil’s food, gingerbread, red velvet, vanilla and, well, we’d like a layer with big chocolate chunks?
All you have to do is:
Tell everyone what size to make their layer cake (eight inches is standard).
You can cap the layers at four or five, or make two cakes.
You can assign flavors, or let the universe decide what you get.
You provide the filling and some icing to decorate the top.
Or you can delegate those, too, and just focus on the beverages.