Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Funny Cake

Funny Cake

Once in a while someone comes along and reminds me about a food I've eaten in the past that I completely forgot about. Such was the case not too long ago when I was reminded of funny cake and I decided to take that memory and augment a little.

When I was a young child in the 70s my mother went through a phase where she would purchase milk and eggs from a delivery truck. I couldn't  remember who the older man was that delivered those items in his step van, but I'll never forget his visits.

I would sit out on the front stoop of our home on Linden Street in Bethlehem with my stepdad and wait paitently for the truck to come. Mom would sometimes be with us, and she was always the purchaser, but my step-father and I were the watching committee. As soon as the truck would roll down the hill, if she wasn't there already, we would call for mom.

She always bought eggs and milk, but some weeks there would be extras. A tin of potato chips, a bag of pretzels, a wet-bottomed shoo-fly pie for my step-dad and, not often enough, a funny cake for my brothers and me. We'd devour it in one sitting and wish for more.

Mom never made shoo-fly or funny cake; I think it may have been something she considered an Amish secret, shrouded in mystery and not to be uncovered by mere "English" (what the Amish call the rest off us) people. Or she just may not have had a recipe.

Funny Cake

Once I was older I discovered recipes for both. My first time with shoo-fly pie was disaster. Pie filling puffed up and dripped out of the pies and into the bottom of the oven. Blackened molasses is like no other odor in the world. Funny cake was made now and then, but not often enough - just the way mom bought them. In fact, I don't think my kids would recognize one if they were introduced to it.

I called mom to inquire about the deliveries and the man who made them and she told me that all she remembered was his last name: Fegely.  After a quick search on the internet for milk deliveries in the Lehigh Valley by a Fegely, I came across Howard Fegely, owner of Fegely's Dairy and founder of Limeport Stadium. I have no idea if the man who delivered our milk was related to the dairy Fegely's, but I did try my best to find out and turned up empty-handed.

No matter, I made funny cake for the kids and they did exactly as expected; they devoured it in no time because some memories are just more delicious than others.

Funny Cake

Funny Cake
Makes one 9-inch "cake"
Printable Recipe

1 - 9" unbaked pie crust
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg - beaten
1/4 cup butter or shortening (shortening or lard would be more traditional here)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter or shortening with sugar until fluffy and add egg. Blend well. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons hot water
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend these together and pour over the first part in the shell. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. While baking the chocolate settles underneath the vanilla part and makes a gooey chocolate layer.


Ben said...

It's always great to rediscover recipes from our past, isn't it. This cake looks yummy!

Unknown said...

LOVE this entry! I grew up in Easton and remember the milk man coming to our house in the early 80's- we had one of those metal insulated bins for the milk. And every once in a while, a special treat, a tin of chips! Yum! Thanks for bringing back such a great memory!

Anne Coleman said...

From: The Short (dis)Order Cook

My husand, who is a few years older than I am, remembers milk delivery at home. Although I grew up in the 70s, milkmen had disappeared in my part of the world. With so many of these new food delivery services happening like Fresh Direct and Peapod, I think dairy-fresh milk delivery should make a comeback!

I was never fond of shoofly pie,even though I went to college in Amish country and saw an awful lot of it. I have never seen a funnycake though and I'm very intrigued. I would love to try this recipe. I'm glad you found one you like and can relive your memories!

Katie said...

Loving all these Amish pie memories! I write a Mennonite food blog (oddly enough named The Shoofly Project)! I agree... the traditional shoofly pie is just too much molasses... I ended up doing a version with honey. Blissful results! Anhow, I've been reading about Funny Cake in the last couple weeks, but have not yet made it. Just got added to the list! Now if I could just a milkman... :)
Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

My mom is from Bethlehem PA and used to make this for us all the time!

Anonymous said...

My mom made this every year for my birthday, she got the recipe from her mom who used to make it for me first. As her birthday was the day afer mine.Is definitely my favorite. We added chopped wal uts to the top.

Karen G said...

I grew up in Allentown in the 50's until moving away to Chicago in 1976. I'm a Fegely and my Dad was a great Funny Cake baker or so I am told. I have been looking for a Funny Cake recipe and Shoo Fly Pie recipe for a long time. Just recently I reconnected with my first and best friend and she found her mom's and my mom's old recipes. My first try at Funny Cake was also a disaster with chocolate running all over. Tonight I'm going to try Shoo Fly Pie. Don't remember a Howard Fegely but must be related due to the spelling. We had the tin box for milk and eggs also. I worked at the Allentown Farmer's Market and worked at a celery stand selling only celery. Can't stand store bought celery to this day. Nothing compares.