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 4 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 2

Chocolate Funny Cake Pie 5


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25 Responses to Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Funny Cake Pie

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

    that looks good

    • June 29, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks, Lisa. Fun, easy recipe.

  2. 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. 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • June 2, 2020 at 3:38 pm #


    • 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!!

      • 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. 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!!!

    • 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. 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.

    • 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. May 30, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

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

    • May 31, 2020 at 11:45 pm #

      Agree, Ray! And it was good too.

  7. 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.

  8. August 1, 2020 at 7:48 pm #

    The other recipe called for crisco in place of butter, wonder which is better…..

    • September 14, 2020 at 12:43 pm #

      Sandra, I used Crisco and it was wonderful! Very light and delicious. However, I did pour the chocolate mixture on top of the batter, which was very hard for me to process in my head. It came out perfect! (I can’t compare to butter recipe, this was my first time making the cake).

    • November 9, 2023 at 4:36 pm #

      I think Crisco produces a better textured cake, but it’s not considered particularly healthy. Boohoo. But a little Crisco now & then won’t hurt. My mom made funny cake frequently. She used Crisco. And yes, the chocolate is carefully poured into the batter in a thin stream, spiraling from the center to the outer edge. My mom’s people- both maternal and paternal- were Swiss Mennonite and Brethren from Southeastern PA. My mom also made something she called, “breakfast cake”. It was a dense yellow, 1-layer, cake with a sugar, flour & shortening crumb topping. My dad’s favorite was shoo-fly pie, which was like funny cake, but instead had a molasses mixture under the cake, rather than chocolate. Really good stuff. We had a huge garden (that I had to help weed), & pear trees. We froze or canned huge amounts of vegetables and fruit every Summer and Autumn. My dad hunted, so we occasionally ate venison, squirrel, & rabbit! We lived not far from where both my parents were born, on the border of Montgomery and Bucks Counties, in southeastern Pennsylvania. And just 45 minute from Philly by train or car. A great place to grow up. A diverse & welcoming community, too!

      • November 10, 2023 at 10:17 am #

        Barbie, thanks for sharing your stories. Loved them!

  9. August 9, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    My husband and I are from PA – very familiar with PA Dutch food.
    I baked this for him last year for his 70th birthday. I have never baked
    this type of cake/pie before.
    He said it was better than any he ever tasted made by the PA Dutch folks.
    And he does not give me complements on my cooking very often.
    So I know he was sincere!

    Thanks for a great recipe!!!!

    • August 9, 2020 at 9:41 pm #

      You’re welcome, Debra. Thank you for the great story!

  10. February 14, 2021 at 8:06 am #

    My mother in law ,Hettie Kershner , in Boyertown, Pa. who spoke Pa. Dutch gave me her recipe for Funny Cake in 1972. It is the same as printed in Sphere Magazine, except my mother in law put Hershey Chocolate Syrup on the bottom of the pie crust for the chocolate!!!
    I thought it was funny because the cake was in a pie crust!

    • February 15, 2021 at 8:26 am #

      I love your story, Bonnie! It’s so interesting to read responses to this recipe that still come in after five years! Thank you so much for sharing your mother-in-law’s method.

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