Cake or Pie or Both

Call me a skeptic. When an idea comes across my desk that stays on my desk for a couple of years, always getting shifted to the bottom of the pile, it’s pretty certain I doubt it will work.

Just such a recipe called Funny Cake Pie was sent me. Then, more recently, a friend gave me a copy of an old Clabber Girl Baking Powder booklet and the funny cake/pie thing came to light again. The booklet published in the 1940s promoted “Fine baking is family fun.”

Clabber Girl brand has been around since 1848 and is a trusted ingredient found on millions of kitchen shelves. Probably most well-known for its baking powder biscuit recipe, the makers were keen on introducing all manner of baking ideas for their product-hence the little booklets.

The booklet’s recipe for the dessert lists it as an Old Dutch favorite. Having an interest in history of recipes, I went looking for its origin. Even Google does not have a definitive answer. What Google does have is dozens of recipes of various measurements and techniques for the cake/pie.

Not trusting internet recipes may be a drawback I will regret some day, but not in this case. One of my rules for testing odd recipes is to use the oldest, most tested, paper-printed copy available. The Clabber Girl booklet was my choice.

It was a simple, easily put together pie filled with a chocolate liquid and a white cake batter. Baked, it turned out to be a fine looking pie, smelling deliciously like chocolate. It cut into a perfect wedge of flaky crust, chocolate layer and golden brown topped cake.

Clabber Girl called for the liquid to be poured in the pie shell and then the cake batter poured on top. For most of the other recipes I found, the reverse was called for. Cake batter was poured in the pie shell, then a cooled chocolate sauce poured on top. While baking the sauce somehow found its way to the bottom, forming a pudding/sauce layer between the cake and crust. This was a common explanation for the word ‘funny’ in the recipe, or, an odd way for the science of baking to turn out.

We baked a second cake using the reverse method. While basically the same, this second cake had a chocolate film on the top cake layer. Of the two cakes, my voters chose the first as the best. Here is the Clabber Girl’s recipe. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. Just when you think something is oddly impossible, you get a piece of pie and get to eat your cake too.

Funny Cake/Pie

Sauce: 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cake: 1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons Clabber Girl baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Pastry: for single crust 9-inch pie

1. Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all sauce ingredients in small bowl. Stir until well combined. Set aside.

3. In mixing bowl, cream shortening, sugar, vanilla and egg. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Blend well.

4. Pour sauce into pie shell. Carefully spoon cake batter on top. Do not mix. Chocolate liquid will creep up the edges as the batter displaces it.

5. Place pie pan on rimmed pan to catch any drips (we didn’t have any, but you never know). Bake for about 40 minutes or until firm to touch and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

6. Cool completely before cutting. Serve with whipped cream, whipped topping or a scoop of ice cream.

  • Published on Mar 16, 2016
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