Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Great Grandpa's Apple Orchard

red delicious

Great-Grandpa Dallas Matheson owned 300 acres of land in the Matheson Cove section of Clay County, North Carolina in 1844.  His property included half of Shewbird Mountain.

His ancestors departed the Scottish Highlands in 1772 and sailed into the harbor of the United States of America.  They were some of the earliest settlers in present Clay County, NC.

Great-Grandpa Dallas was a learned man and spoke correct and distinct English.  He read many books and so did his children.  He and Great-Grandma Martha Norwood Matheson had three girls and three boys.  Minnie Lee Matheson was my grandmother and married Robert "Bob" Ledford in 1916.

Great-Grandpa Dallas was a farmer.  He grew an apple orchard above the frost line on Shewbird Mountain.  He raised the black beauty apple that was so red it looked black.  The Ben Davis was light with small streaks and white inside.  Other apples included the horse apple, hog sweet, red June, striped June, striped May, pumpkin apple, queen pippin, pound apple, and others with no names.

Each fall my family took a sled and mule on Shewbird Mountain and hauled apples to the house to store in the cellar.  They also dried apples on trays outside in the sun.

Dried apples were delicious, especially when made into fried pies or a stack cake.  It was made with five or six thin layers.  Dried apples were cooked with a little sugar and cinnamon then spread between the layers.  It was best when soaked for a few days.

Here's my grandmother's recipe for the stack cake:

Great-Grandma Martha's Dried Apple Stack Cake

2 cups dried apples                                                        1 cup raisins
1 cup sugar                                                                     1 cup molasses
2 eggs                                                                             1 cup milk
3 cups or more of flour                                                   1 teaspoon soda
2/3 cup baking powder                                                    nutmeg and cinnamon

Soak apples in water long enough to make soft.  Then chop them to about the size of raisins, and boil them 15 minutes in the molasses.  Add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Mix eggs and sugar, add enough lard until it looks like a biscuit dough.  Add flour, baking powder, soda, add enough milk to make dough soft.  Mix in raisins.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll in thin circles to fit black iron frying pan.  Bake in moderate woodstove oven until golden brown.

Spread cooked apple mixture between layers.  Will make 5 to 6 layer cake.

Put a dish rag over the cake and soak it for a few days before serving.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford


Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda Kay. This was so interesting. My paternal grandma made very good fried dried apple pies when I was a child. Sweet memories. Blessings, Mildred

Ruth Hiebert said...

Oh my, some of those names for the apples I have never heard of. I enjoy a good crisp and just a little tart apple.

Linda O'Connell said...

Brenda, thank you for checking out my blog. I just followed yours. What an interesting post about the different kinds of apples. I will be back to discover more fun facts. What grade do you teach?

magnoliasntea said...

Hi Brenda! I loved reading your story and would have loved to visit your great grandpa's orchard. The dark apple sounds something like the dark Arkansas Black apple that I've seen and purchased at Kyle Carver Orchard in Cosby, Tenn.. Thank you for sharing the Apple Stack Cake recipe. It sounds delicious. We love the old-time stack cakes best.
Have a lovely week!

Hootin' ♥ Anni said...

Loved reading your family history!! Genealogical stories are always interesting.

Henny Penny said...

This is so interesting. I've never heard of any of those apples. Mama used to talk about having a banana apple tree. The recipe sounds old fashioned and delicious. I would love to try it. This is the time of year when I love to go to the mountains and buy apples.

Janet, said...

Hi, Brenda. Loved your post. My ancestors came over about that time, too. They were scotch-Irish.One of my gr gr gr uncles (I think I got that right)had an apple orchard. He lived in the Cana area of Virginia, near the NC border. I still make the stack cake every now and then. That was the only cake I remember my grandma making. My recipe is a little different, I don't ever remember any raisins being in hers.

Elaine/Muddling Through said...

I've seen some of those black apples in Missouri when we visited. How wonderful to have such a wide variety all your own! I've seen pictures of the apple stack cakes. You make me want to try one!

Eggs In My Pocket said...

Hello Brenda, thank you for sharing the recipe............how much I love reading the history of your great grandfather and grandmother and about the apple orchards! I had once dreamed of making an apple orchard.......I love apples........but apples do not do well here in my area
I think I might try your grandmother's recipe for a day near Thanksgiving!


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