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Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 3:30:00 PM
Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 3:45:24 PM
by sharon thompson
Pies can be stacked until curiosity, and your stomach, are satisfied. Here a pumpkin pie is stacked on top of a pecan pie. - Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT
Stack pie is an old-fashioned dessert from Kentucky.
IN Kentucky, stack cakes are common, but few people are familiar with stack pies.
A recent article in The New York Times generated some buzz about this old-fashioned dessert. Times food writer Melissa Clark wrote about stack pies in a July issue, then the story was picked up by NBC’s Today show, and now it’s getting attention from other food reporters and bloggers.
Clark interviewed Karen Thornton, who was researching her family’s genealogy, and Thornton told Clark about a recipe for stack pies she found in a book from the ‘30s about western North Carolina, where her family is from. In the book, given to her by an aunt, there was “one paragraph that describes people bringing fruit pies to church functions. Each family’s pie would get stacked on top of one another, and when it was dessert time, the whole thing was sliced like a layer cake.”
Thornton and her husband, Chris, who have their own blog, Thepeche.com, were intrigued and began to bake dozens of stack pies in different flavours.
We asked several cooks in Central Kentucky about stack pies, and discovered they are unfamiliar to most people except for those in and around Washington and Mercer counties.
Sandra Davis of Springfield, Kentucky, author of That Special Touch cookbook, said they probably originated at church potlucks or reunions. The recipe she has is from “my mother-in-law who got it from her sister-in-law. The handwritten copy came from Kathy Elliott whose mother came up with the original recipe. Her name was Dot Davis, a wonderful cook. She baked the stack pies for her daughter and son-in-law’s restaurant in Lebanon, Kentucky, called Country Kitchen. She would make stack pies and then use the egg whites to make old-fashioned angel food cakes for Sunday dinner at the restaurant.
“The people in Lebanon had never heard of stack pies, but they were a sell-out every weekend.
“My mother-in-law, Ella Mae Davis, always made them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I got to take the leftover pie home to put in the freezer and enjoy during the spring. It’s so rich you only cut a sliver. All the pies are stacked and covered with caramel.
“Ella Mae always made them to sell at the homemakers’ annual bazaar. Not many people made them because they were too much trouble and rather expensive. Some were five pies high and some four.”
Tyler Horton, co-owner of 1851 Historic Maple Hill Manor Bed and Breakfast in Springfield, said recipes for stack pies can be found in many Washington County, Kentucky, cookbooks. “We have been known to serve a stack pie to our guests, however, they are a lot of work,” Horton said.
Stack pies are common around Mercer County and in that area they’re referred to as custard stack pies.
Betty Dean Coleman of Harrodsburg, has never made the stack pie, but she buys them from people in the area. “They are very, very rich and they have a lot of brown sugar and caramel, and they have anywhere from three to 12 pie crusts as the stacking, and this caramel buttery filling goes in between,” she said. “Then when they’re stacked up, you cover it all with frosting or icing of some kind, but most of the time it’s caramel.
“They’re delicious, but you have to serve them ¼-inch thick. You can’t eat any more.”
The Thorntons’ pies were stacked two or three pies high, so we decided to make ours only two pies high, although tradition calls for many stacks. – Lexington Herald-Leader/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Recipe: Pumpkin-pecan Stack Pie
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Lifestyle, stack pie, pumpkin pecan, Kentucky
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