Father’s Day With Funny Cake

In our house the two go hand in hand.  In fact, my husband requests “Funny Cake” for every possible celebration—Father’s Day, his birthday, and any other person’s birthday, assuming he can sway them from their own favorite and convince them of the virtues of that Pennsylvania Dutch treat.

The original recipe came to me via my mother-in-law, along with a host of others from that region.  But this one is the family favorite.  Similar to Shoo-Fly Pie, Funny Cake features a dense, but whiter cake (on top) and chocolate sauce (on bottom)–instead of molasses or King Syrup, in a pie shell.  Add a few raspberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got a treat that makes my husband’s mouth water and his heart sing.

Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe to my family’s tastes.  If you’re in the mood for something different, you might like to give it a try:


Bottom pie shells for two small pies or one large pie.

Cake Batter:

1 and ½ cups sugar

½ cup butter

2 eggs

½ cup milk

2 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

dash salt

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring


Chocolate Sauce:

1 and ½ cups sugar

¾  cup cocoa

1 and ½  cups water

1 and ½ teaspoons almond flavoring


Prepare pie shells.

Combine chocolate sauce ingredients and bring to a gentle boil, stirring over medium heat until sauce thickens (boil about 10 minutes).

While sauce is boiling, prepare cake batter:  Combine sugar and butter.  Add eggs.  Mix well.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  Gradually stir in flour mixture, alternating with milk.  Beat until light.

Pour thickened chocolate sauce into pie shells.  Pour or spoon cake batter over chocolate sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or more until cake is done.  (Cake will collapse in center if removed too soon).

A few fresh raspberries served on top of the cake or beside a slice on each plate makes for a spot of color and nicely complement the chocolate.

The original recipe said to spread the cake batter across the bottom of the pie shell, then add the chocolate sauce  to the top.  As the Funny Cake bakes, the chocolate sinks to the bottom and the “cake” rises to the top (maybe that’s why it’s “funny!”) But that sinking and rising didn’t always work for me—hence, my switch to the recipe above.  This works every time.

In the recipe given, I’ve increased the amount of chocolate sauce by half, and used almond flavoring instead of the original vanilla in the chocolate sauce.  What can I say?  We like chocolate!  Another tasty switch is to use orange flavoring in place of the vanilla in both the cake and in place of the almond flavoring in the chocolate sauce.  The Pennsylvania Dutch might not approve of my taking such liberties, but my family always comes back for more.

Served warm or cold, Funny Cake is delicious with a tall glass of cold milk or a hot cup of coffee.  Let’s enjoy ours at the picnic table beneath the shade of the poplars.

Is there a Father’s Day tradition in your home or one you remember from childhood?  Happy Father’s Day to all the special men in your life!

Looking forward to meeting you here, in the garden, next week.

God’s blessings for you,

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  • Carrie says:

    Hi Cathy, that sounds delicious. What a fun tradition.
    Do you bake the pie crust first or is it baking at the same time as the rest of the recipe? So different. I’ve never had anything like that.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Hi Carrie! The pie crust bakes at the same time as the rest of the recipe. This year I made it with orange flavoring in the chocolate sauce and the cake batter. The verdict is in–my husband prefers almond flavoring in the chocolate sauce and vanilla in the cake batter. But he’s very willing to let me experiment AGAIN! I told him he’ll have to wait for his birthday . . . . too much Funny Cake! : )

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