Funny Cake recipe: A Pennsylvania Dutch dessert (1949)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Funny Cake recipe - Pennsylvania Dutch vintage dessert(1949)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

This unique creation called “Funny Cake” is based on an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.

In this dessert, a tender cake is baked in a flaky pie shell. Any of several sweet sauces goes on at the top before baking, and ends up in a delicious layer between the two.

Here are four different ways you can make it: chocolate, butterscotch, orange, and, at the bottom of the page, a pineapple version.

About the Pennsylvania Dutch Funny Cake (1971)

Traditional among the Pennsylvania Dutch is a dessert called “Funny Cake.”

Actually, Funny Cake is a pie, with the crust filled first with a mixture of cocoa or melted chocolate, sugar, and boiling water, then with a plain cake batter. In the baking, the chocolate rises to the top like a custard.

From the Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) December 9, 1971

Bake it! Taste it! Pennsylvania Dutchland’s Funny Cake!

It’s a cake and a pie…and it’s “Wonderful good”! Swans Down and Swift’ning bring you the recipe

Cake baked in a pie shell! Sauce that goes on at the top and ends up in a layer right at the very bottom of the cake! That’s Funny Cake . . . a Pennsylvania Dutch treat so unusual, so intriguing, everyone who tastes it wants the recipe.

Now, thanks to Swans Down and Swift’ning, everyone can have it — at its very best. The recipe given has been carefully worked out for these famous products, so you’ll get the finest possible results.

Bake a Funny Cake soon and enjoy the comments. It isn’t hard. It is spectacular!

Vintage 1940s Funny Cake recipe A cake in a pie shell

ALSO SEE: Ko-ko-nut pie: Vintage ’50s coconut dessert recipe

Funny Cake recipe: A cake in a pie shell

A “wonderful good” Pennsylvania Dutch recipe — carefully worked out for Swans Down and Swift’ning so that.

The speedy one-egg cake will be the very lightest, richest one-egg cake obtainable. It’s baked in a pie shell with a layer of yummy sauce!

Pennsylvania Dutch treat (1949)

Pennsylvania Dutch treat (1949)

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes


  • 1-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Swift'ning (shortening)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 3 tablespoons chopped nuts or cut coconut (for topping)


  1. Line 9- to 10-inch glass pie plate with Swift'ning pastry, making a high fluted rim.
  2. Make a sauce (recipes below); let cool while mixing cake.
  3. Have ingredients at room temperature.
  4. Start oven for moderate heat (350 F).
  5. Sift flour once before measuring.
  6. Measure into sifter: flour. baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  7. Place Swift'ning in a bowl.
  8. Sift in dry ingredients.
  9. Add milk and vanilla; mix until all flour is dampened.
  10. Beat 2 minutes at low speed of electric mixer, or 300 strokes by hand.
  11. Add egg and beat 1 minute on mixer, or 150 strokes by hand.
  12. Pour batter into pastry-lined pie plate.
  13. Pour lukewarm sauce gently over batter.
  14. Sprinkle with nuts or coconut.
  15. Bake in moderate oven (350 F) 50 to 55 minutes.
  16. Serve warm as dessert or coffee cake. If desired, top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 250mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 8g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

ALSO TRY: Magic tomato soup cake recipes from the ’50s & ’60s

Funny Cake recipe A cake in a pie shell

Take your pick of 3 luscious sauces

Butterscotch sauce: In a saucepan, combine 1/4 cup butter or margarine with 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture comes to a boil.

Add 3 tablespoons water and bring again to a boil. Boil 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Chocolate sauce: Place 1 square unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 cup water in saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir until the chocolate is melted.

Add 2/3 cup sugar, stirring constantly, and then bring to a boil. Remove at once from heat, add 1/4 cup butter or margarine and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and stir until sauce is blended.

Orange sauce: Combine 1/4 cup of orange juice and 3/4 cup sugar in a saucepan. Place over low heat. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.

Boil 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then add another 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind. Mix well.

ALSO SEE: How to make old-fashioned pomander balls with oranges & cloves

Why is it called a funny cake? (1953)

Adapted from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) July 16, 1953

This recipe is an adaptation of an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, which has been a favorite of theirs for centuries.

Why do they call it “Funny”? Well, to them, “funny” means odd, unusual, and so it was that it got its name.

For what is more unusual than baking a cake in a pie shell, or pouring a sauce over the cake batter which, in baking, becomes a filling between cake and pie crust?

Bake it! Taste it! Pennsylvania Dutchland’s Funny Cake!

How to make a Funny Cake

ALSO SEE: Creamy Dutch Apple dessert recipe (1979)

Pineapple Dutch Funny Cake recipe (1955)

The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida) October 11, 1955

An old-world favorite brought up to date is Dutch Funny Cake, which also resembles a pie. It’s made with brown sugar and pineapple, with wheat germ for texture and flavor.

Whether you want to call it a pie or a cake, it’s tops in eating.

Yield: One 9-inch pie


1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup well-drained crushed pineapple
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup soft shortening
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell


Combine butter or margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup, and water in heavy saucepan.

Cook over low heat stirring constantly; boil mixture about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pineapple. Cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, prepare cake batter. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar into mixing bowl. Add wheat germ, shortening, milk, and vanilla. Mix until blended.

Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of electric beater or for 2 minutes by hand using 150 strokes per minute. Scrape bowl and beater on spoon. Add egg and beat 1 minute as before.

Pour batter into pie shell. Pour pineapple mixture over cake batter. Start baking in moderately hot oven (375 F) 15 minutes, turn beat down to 350 F for 45-55 minutes.

Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

NOW TRY THESE: 7 delicious old-fashioned pineapple pie recipes: Real classic ways to make this tropical dessert

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see exclusive retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!

More stories you might like

Because the fun never ends

Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. Bingo! Authentic, traditional funny cake recipe. I never knew there were other sauce recipes besides chocolate. I made the caramel sauce and chose coconut flakes for the top. DELISH!

  2. Hi, I tried this recipe and my layer of sauce did not turn out so much as a layer as it did mix with the lower portion of the cake and tasted a bit uncooked (although I turned the oven off at 50 min and then left pie in oven for an additional 15 min). Was there something I may have done wrong to cause that (not sure if I may have over beat the batter) ? I did find the cake to be tasty, especially with vanilla ice cream.

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe