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Pennsylvania Dutch Apies Cake

Makes four 6-inch round cakes

Apies cake is one of my favorite food memories from childhood. It is a recipe for a PA Dutch breakfast cake that my grandfather made. He would have some for breakfast and a piece as a late night snack. In the morning, he dunked it in coffee, but for the late night snack he held the piece of cake under running tap water. Some of the family used to spread it with butter. The fact is, the cake, which is somewhat dense and not very sweet, is delicious just the way it is.

Apies cake was originally made with lard. We changed to shortening when lard became difficult to find. We also switched to buttermilk when we could no longer find sour milk. Pappy used to make this using coffee cups to measure. He adjusted the amount of lard he used according to the wetness of the batter. It took my mother and me a long time to figure out the correct amounts of the ingredients, but we did. Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease four 6-inch round pie pans. Combine the sugar, flour and salt. Mix the baking soda into the sour milk. Stir the sour milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Gradually add the melted shortening, beating well. Batter will be moist, but stiff. (If batter sticks too much to hands, it is too moist. Add a little flour.) Divide evenly among prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Store cakes in plastic wrap or an airtight container until serving.

Notes: The cakes will keep in a cool place for up to one week. Beyond that, they can be frozen for up to 6 months. You can use other size or shape baking pans. Just be certain the batter comes up the sides at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches, otherwise this cake will be more like a cookie. Adjust the baking time accordingly. Sour milk is difficult to find. I have not seen it for years. Do not use regular milk that has turned sour because that is different. Use buttermilk instead. As for lard, if you can find it, pure lard is a healthier fat than shortening. And it does not add a 'pork' flavor. If you can't find it, use the shortening, preferably non-hydrogenated.