For those of you who wish summertime at KCRW meant Cake-A-Day, here’s a compromise: a dessert made up of cake batter baked in a pie shell.
It’s called Funny Cake, and it’s a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch treat. (It began as a sweet breakfast, but gradually people started eating it after dinner, too.)
This recipe comes from Jennie Cook’s Who Wants Seconds?: Sociable Suppers for Vegans, Omnivores & Everyone in Between. The book is due out in October.
Find your baking instructions below, and click here to enter YOUR delicious pie (or pies) in the 5th Annual Good Food Pie Contest on Saturday, September 7th at LACMA.
We also hope to see you at tonight’s Pie Contest Benefit Dinner at Cook’s County.
(From Jennie Cook’s Who Wants Seconds?: Sociable Suppers for Vegans, Omnivores & Everyone in Between)
I resurrected this classic Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast cake/pie hybrid to serve as dessert at our simple suppers. Mostly I like to say the name: Funny Cake! It’s funny because you pour the chocolate over the cake and it seeps down and bakes into a solid layer of fudge at the bottom. Hilarious, right? If you like a golden-brown finish, you can pour the chocolate in first, but I like the mottled dark cocoa finish, because it’s a mouthwatering setup to the fudgy bottom. This is a great cake/pie to share, because the recipe makes two.
True confessions: I use store-bought pie crusts. But feel free to bust out a handmade flaky shell — either is equally scrumptious in the end.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Makes 2 cakes, each serving 6 to 8
Chocolate Fudge Syrup
2 8-inch pie shells, unbaked (see below)
Preheat oven to 375° while you make the batter.
2/3 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flour, milk, and baking powder and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Set aside while you make the chocolate syrup.
Chocolate Fudge Syrup
1 cup hot water
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large bowl, mix everything together and whisk until well blended and the consistency of a thin sauce.
Place pie shells in greased pie pans and crimp the edges to make them as high as possible. Divide the cake batter equally and pour into the 2 shells, followed by the chocolate syrup.
Carefully set the pies on a cookie sheet (to catch any gooey chocolate overspill) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the top cracks (the chocolate will be bubbling through as well), 35 to 40 minutes.
Pie Crust 101
To make it vegan, simply substitute vegan shortening and vegan butter for the dairy products.
Makes 2 9-inch pie crusts.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup or 1 stick (8 tablespoons) shortening, frozen and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and frozen
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water
Few things made in the kitchen are as daunting as pie crust, but the fact is, it’s as easy as pie once you get the hang of it. All recipes stress 4 necessary instructions, and I will stress them as well:
1. Freeze the shortening and then cut into cubes before using; as for the butter, it can be frozen after you cut it into cubes.
2. Use ice-cold water.
3. Neither over- nor under-moisten the dough.
4. Do not overwork the dough by kneading it too much.
Many recipes use the shortcut of a food processor. Yes, you will get a good dough, but you will not learn to “feel” when the dough is just right, and this feeling is the great cook’s reward. Plus it makes for a flakier and tastier crust. But don’t feel bad if you decide to use the processor anyway.
Food Processor Method
Put flour, salt, and sugar in processor bowl and pulse a few times. Add cubes of shortening and butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms, about 8 to 10 times. You want the butter and shortening to have little pieces in the meal. Now pulse in the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is just moistened. It should look crumbly.
Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add butter and shortening cubes to flour. Working quickly and using a pastry cutter, cut in the cubes until the mixture resembles a thick meal. The cubes should now be the size of small peas. Sprinkle the mixture with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix with your hands. This way you’ll know when you have the perfect amount of moisture. The dough should feel crumbly.
Next, regardless of the method you’ve chosen to make the dough, it’s time to knead it.
Dust a clean surface or a large bowl (if you don’t have good counter space) with flour and dump the crumbly dough on the flour. Using your hands, push the crumbs together, forming a large ball. Flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand into a large circle, just until the crumbs come together. Fold the dough in half and then in half again and form into 1 large disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 days.
Before rolling out the crust, take the disc out of the fridge and let sit for 10 minutes to soften enough for rolling out.
Dust a clean surface with flour, take the disc out of the wrap, and cut in half. (If you only need 1 crust, wrap the remaining disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for later.) Flour a rolling pin and roll dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Alternatively, you can roll the dough between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap, which prevents sticking and the risk of over-flouring. Gently press dough into a pie pan, trim the edges, and crimp them. The crust is now ready to be filled.
If you’re going to use a wet filling in your pie or tart, par bake it first. Line it with parchment paper or foil, weight with rice or pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes at 350°. Remove weights and parchment, and bake another 5 minutes. Now it’s ready to fill.