Nonstick cooking spray, as needed
1/2 cup all-vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
31/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Appalachian Apple-Butter Filling (recipe follows)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 6 (9-inch) cake pans with some of the nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat the shortening and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add the buttermilk, molasses, egg and vanilla, beating well.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add shortening mixture, stirring just until combined.

On a lightly floured surface, form dough into a log; cut into 6 equal portions. Place 1 portion in each prepared pan and use fingers to lightly pat dough to edges of pans.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Cake will have consistency of a gingerbread cookie.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand; spread with about 3/4 cup warm apple-butter filling. Repeat procedure with remaining layers and filling, stacking each on previous layer. Do not spread filling on top layer. Cover and refrigerate cake for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, dust with some of the confectioners' sugar.

Makes 8 servings.

APPALACHIAN APPLE-BUTTER FILLING: In large saucepan, combine 4 cups roughly chopped, dried apples; 3/4 cup firmly packed, dark-brown sugar; and 1 teaspoon each ground ginger and cinnamon. Starting with about 6 cups apple cider (not juice), add enough liquid to cover. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring often, for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes or until cooled slightly. Transfer to bowl of a food processor or container of a blender and process until smooth. Use while still warm.