The jumping off point for this formula was a modern take on a stack cake that I found in Julie Richardson’s excellent Vintage Cakes. I made a few changes because, well, I can’t resist that. Among them, making the filling seasonal (the original called for plum, which must be fabulous, but it’s not plum season), changed the fat to all-butter from butter/oil, and amped up the ginger a bit since ginger, historically speaking, is the defining spice in this cake. Oh, and no icing, because icing has never been a feature of stack cakes. Here’s how my variation goes:
16.5 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 ounces unsalted butter
15 ounces dark brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk, room temperature
4 cups fruit filling of your choice (home made apple sauce made from dried apples is most traditional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour together with the leavening and spices and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and dark brown sugar until lighter in color and fluffy. With the machine running at medium speed, add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl regularly. Lastly, with the machine running a low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, starting with 1/3 of the flour, then half the buttermilk, another third of the flour, then the remaining half of the buttermilk, then the last 1/3 of the flour. Scrape down from time to time.
Take make the layers, line at least two 9″ cake layer pans with parchment and spray them with cooking spray. If you have three you can use three, but you’ll be doing multiple bakes regardless. Weigh out 9.5 ounces of batter per pan, taking care to spread it as evenly as you can. Bake the layers for about 15 minutes until just set, then turn them out onto a rack to cool while you make the others.
To assemble, simply stack and fill, though since the layers will be slightly uneven, take care how you place the layers and spread the filling so that each layer is as flat as you can make it before you add another. When finished, dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve.