Category Archives: Blog

Apple Stack Cake

Photo credit: American Cake, by Anne Byrn (Rodale, 2016)

If you were invited to a wedding in the Appalachian mountains, you might be asked to bring a cake layer. For generations, a wedding cake has been constructed from these spice cake layers and filled with a thick and fragrant apple butter made from dried apples put up from the fall harvest. The more layers to the cake – 12 to 16, perhaps – the more popular the bride, or so the story goes. Stack cakes may contain other fillings, often lemon or coconut, but the original was and still is apple. Not calling for fancy and expensive ingredients, stack cakes use what people have on hand – modest baking staples like sorghum, flour, and vegetable shortening, and you could bake the cake in a cast iron skillet. Or you can use 9-inch round cake pans. The secret to a great stack cake is to bake it a day in advance and cover it so that the apple filling slowly seeps into the cake. To save time, use apple butter, such as the Old Mill Apple Butter, instead of making the filling.

Here are links to Old Mill Products, which can be used in the recipe below from our friend Anne Byrn. Old Mill Apple Butter, Spiced Apple Seasoning, Old Mill Plain Flour, Muddy Pond Sorghum, Molasses

Makes: 12 to 16 servings
Prep: 2 hours
Bake: 14 to 16 minutes
Apple Filling:
15 to 16 ounces dried unsulphured apple rings (4 to 5 packed cups)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups water
Cake:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sorghum or molasses
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
Garnish:
Powdered sugar or sweetened whipped cream
Directions:
1. For the filling, place the apples in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg over the apples. Pour in the water, which should half-cover the apples. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the apples are soft and the mixture has thickened. Add a bit more water if needed. Remove the apples from the heat and let them cool. When cool, place them in thirds in a food processor and pulse until smooth but some chunks of apple remain. Or mash the apples by hand with a potato masher. You will have about 5 heaping cups of apples to spread between 6 cake layers. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, for the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of six 9-inch round pans. Smear a bit of vegetable shortening on the bottom of the pans to hold the parchment in place, and set the pans aside.
3. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine, and set the mixture aside. In another large bowl, place the shortening, sugar, and sorghum. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. The batter will be thick, more like a cookie dough. Use a strong rubber spatula, if needed, to facilitate mixing.
4. Divide the batter into 6 equal parts. Each part will be about 10 ounces. Spread the batter out into the pans, using the rubber spatula or a flexible metal spatula. Place 2 to 3 pans in the oven at a time, depending on the size of your oven. Bake until the cakes are a light golden color and spring back when lightly pressed in the center, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the pans to a wire rack to cool 3 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out the warm layers onto the rack. Immediately spread 1 heaping cup of apple filling over the top of the warm layer. Top with a second layer, spread on filling, top with a third, and so on. Repeat the process for the rest of the batter until you end with the 6th layer on top.
5. Place the cake in a cake saver or under a cake dome for 1 to 2 days before serving. Before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar or pile on whipped cream.
– Used with permission from Anne Byrn author of American Cake. This recipe appears in American Cake (Rodale Books, 2016).

Old Mill Apple Skillet Cobbler

Start with fresh apples and an iron skillet and you wind up with an irresistible cobbler!

Old Mill Apple Skillet Cobbler

Makes 8 to 12 servings
Ingredients:
2 9-inch pie crusts (see recipe below)
8 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/3-inch thick
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Directions:
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll the pie pastry out to two 9-inch rounds. (Or use two pre-made crusts.)
  2. Place one of the pastry rounds in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Pile the apples into the skillet evenly. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar over the top. Sprinkle on the cinnamon. Distribute the cold pieces of butter across the top.
  3. Cut the remaining round of pie pastry into 1-inch strips. Lay 4 to 5 strips across the top of the apples, leaving a couple inches in between each one. With the remaining strips weave them in an over-and-under fashion to create a lattice pattern. Pinch the edges of the lattice strips to seal them to the bottom crust. Tuck any excess crust under to finish the edges. If desired, scallop the edges or press the edges down with the tines of a fork to create a finished look.
  4. Brush the egg on top of the pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the crust with the tablespoon of sugar. Place the cobbler in the oven.
  5. Bake the cobbler 10 minutes, until golden brown, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the filling is bubbly and the apples are soft, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cover the cobbler lightly with foil if it starts to get too brown. Remove from the oven, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Spoon warm into serving bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Homemade Pie Crust

Makes two 9-inch crusts
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Old Mill Unbleached Plain Flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
4 tablespoons very cold water
Directions:
Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Cut the shortening into small pieces and distribute over the flour. Cut into the flour using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Sprinkle water over the mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture holds together. If still crumbly, add a little more water. Divide into two balls and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Press down on the balls to flatten, wrap securely, and chill 1 hour.
When ready to roll, place the dough rounds on a lightly floured board and roll to 1/8-inch thickness.

Pimiento Cheese Baked Grits

Grits are a staple of Southern fare and can be enjoyed with any meal from breakfast to supper! Paring it with another Southern staple, pimento cheese just takes it to another level. We know you will certainly enjoy it!

Pimiento Cheese Baked Grits

This is a great make-ahead dish. Prepare through step 2; cover and chill overnight. Let grits stand at room temperature while preheating your oven.

Yield/ Number of Servings: 6-8

Hands on time: 35 min

Total time: 1 hour 35 min

Ingredients:

1 tsp. salt

1 cup Old Mill Yellow Grits

1 cup half and half

¼ tsp. cayenne

3 cups (12 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 (4 oz) jar diced pimientos, drained

1/3 cup chopped green onion

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

 

  1. Bring 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, 30 minutes or until grits are thickened and tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Add half and half, cayenne, cheese, pimientos, and green onion to grits, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in eggs. Pour grits into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional chopped green onion, if desired.

Easy Hushpuppies for Your Next Fish Fry

As summer winds down, weekends become even more important for gatherings for family and friends. A weekend spent fishing can reel in more than just a good catch. Around here, we have lots of favorite fishing spots, but you don’t have to catch it to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, the conversations in the kitchen and around the table make it all taste better anyway. We love a good fish fry and we like to experiment with flavors, so we’ve taken inspiration from our Corn Fritters and added corn to the hushpuppies. It’s a great savory treat with just a hint of sweetness from the corn.

Easy Hushpuppies

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh corn kernels
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno or bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, if desired
Vegetable oil for frying
Directions:
Place the hushpuppy mix, egg, and buttermilk in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork just to combine. Fold in the corn, pepper, and onion, if desired. Set aside.
Place enough oil in a large, heavy skillet or pot to measure 2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high until the oil is hot, 365 degrees on a thermometer. Scoop or spoon generous tablespoons into the hot oil. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Makes 12 hush puppies.
We also have a great Catfish Breading, so stock up on both!