Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Funny Cake Pie

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After writing my previous blog about the Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and baking from Sphere magazine, I knew I would be trying more of the intriguing recipes. One that captured my attention was simply the title:  “Chocolate Funny Cake Pie.”  How can one resist something with a name like that?  So of course I had to make it. Plus it has chocolate.

Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 1

It looks just like a plain old pie on the outside; could be almost anything on the inside.  But when you cut into it, there’s the layer of chocolate on the bottom.

Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 3

After a one-crust pie layer is made and placed in a pie plate, a simple mixture of sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, water, and vanilla is mixed together and poured into the pie shell.

Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 4

The chocolate layer is topped with a mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, egg, milk, and vanilla.  When baked, this layer turns soft and cake-like yet the top has a thin layer of nice crunchiness.  Such simple ingredients, like so many Pennsylvania Dutch recipes happen to be.

I can just see some women sitting around a kitchen table after coming up with this recipe and wondering what to name it.  I don’t know, they say.  It’s sort of a funny-chocolate-cake-pie.  Good name.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Funny Cake Pie
Cuisine: Pennsylvania Dutch
  • Pastry for a 9-inch one-crust pie (your favorite recipe)
  • Chocolate Layer:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Cake layer:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup cold salted butter, cut into small pieces (or if use unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon salt)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Prepare your favorite pie pastry for a one-crust pie, and line a 9-inch pie pan. (Or you can use one refrigerated pie crust, if desired.) Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, prepare chocolate layer by whisking together the chocolate layer ingredients; set aside.
  4. For cake layer, in a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, 1 cup sugar, and baking powder. (and salt if using unsalted butter as noted). Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender until mixture forms small pieces. Stir in the egg, milk, and ½ teaspoon vanilla; mix well. Spoon mixture carefully in dollops over chocolate, and evenly smooth out, trying to keep the chocolate layer from peeking through.
  5. Bake until the center is done and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool pie on wire rack before cutting into wedges. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 2Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 5


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17 Responses to Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Funny Cake Pie

  1. lisa Keys June 29, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    that looks good

    • Debbie June 29, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks, Lisa. Fun, easy recipe.

  2. Shirley DeSantis July 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Haven’t had one of those in quite a few years – but see them (some with other flavors rathr than chocolate) every time I go to the Farmers Market. They’re still popular. Funny – your post brought back memories of when PBO did not limit # of ingredients, time, etc….. and I remember someone in the family trying a couple of versions of this — probably my x-daughter-in-law or my daughter. Some were good .. some weren’t …. so I think with ‘no calls’ way back then . they discarded that idea!

  3. Rosalie December 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi, you are supposed to pour cake batter in first then cover with the chocolate layer. During the cooking process the chocolate settles to the bottom creating a moist treat. So the disappearing choc. layer is the reason for the name.

    • Debbie March 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

      Hi Rosalie- I know exactly what you mean, but I made this recipe exactly the way as it was written. It still worked with the layers. Maybe that’s why it was funny?

      • Linda March 30, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

        No, it is funny because you put the cake batter in first and then the chocolate on top. When done baking the chocolate is on the bottom.

        • Debbie March 30, 2018 at 9:46 pm #

          As I told a reader with a previous comment, I made the recipe just as the magazine printed it. Whenever I make the vintage Sphere recipes, that’s what I always do.

        • Valerie Higgins June 2, 2020 at 3:38 pm #


    • Marnell Graul April 20, 2020 at 7:43 am #

      Rosalie. You are absolutely right. Batter goes in shell first. Then choolate goes on top of the batter. When it comes out of the oven the chocolate is on the bottom. That is how it got it’s name. I made them for many years!!

      • Debbie May 1, 2020 at 10:10 am #

        Marnell and Rosalie – You are both correct about how you made this, and I agree. However, I made this version exactly how it was published in the magazine. When I write my monthly Sphere magazine blogs, I make a recipe exactly as it was published.

  4. Antoine Blalark July 15, 2018 at 7:29 pm #

    My great Aunt was a domestic for a German/Pennsylvania Dutch family for 25 yrs. She used to make so many PD recipes (bread stuffing, cranberry relish, meatballs) but the funny cake was the one thing my family LOVED!! It was made the exact same way the Sphere recipe stated. Don’t know why it got its name but this brought back so many fond memories of my Aunt Ethel and her cooking. THANK YOU!!!

    • Debbie July 17, 2018 at 6:54 am #

      Hi Antoine- I love the story about your great-aunt Ethel, and am happy the recipe brought back fond memories. I also had a great-aunt who was a marvelous cook and I experience the same thoughts whenever I read a recipe like hers. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Linda M. Alderfer June 8, 2019 at 4:25 pm #

    I made this exactly as the recipe stated and it had a very weird taste. I wonder if its because i did NOT put the chocolate mixture on top.

    • Debbie June 9, 2019 at 12:36 am #

      I have no idea, Linda. All I did was make it as the Sphere magazine printed it.

  6. Ray May 30, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

    What could be funnier than an upside down cake in a pie shell?

    • Debbie May 31, 2020 at 11:45 pm #

      Agree, Ray! And it was good too.

  7. Valerie Higgins June 2, 2020 at 3:42 pm #

    Linda, you are correct! I’ve been making this pie for 50 years (ugh!). I’m from Pennsylvania although I’m not Pa. Dutch. You pour the chocolate mixture on top of the cake batter and it comes out between the cake and the pie which is why it’s called Chocolate Funny Cake Pie. I’ve always used a recipe that makes vanilla cake. I made this one today and thought I’d look it up online to see if anyone else makes it.

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