Of all the parties devoted to accidents, an accident at a funeral does not rank at the top of the list of events to go to without an invitation.
However, in the late 1800s, funerals were a great event to get free food, and there were often fake mourners at the wake.
“It was so common that you didn’t even raise an eyebrow.” — William Voyce Weaver, food historian and author Like an American, like Shoofly Pie: Cooking as well as Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisinetold Atlas Obscura
While potatoes and plenty of casseroles are still staples, hungry eyes once settled on the popular “funeral pie”.
What is a funeral cake?
Pie was once served at funerals as an edible euphemism for death itself. However, the sweet raisin pie quickly became a favorite of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Funeral cake, made from a lard-based puff crust with a slightly sweet, inky black filling of raisins, sugar, lemon, eggs, and flour, was an easy treat for Dutch families because it didn’t need to be refrigerated or reheated. .
While making a funeral cake was a relatively convenient option, it was also considered “an absolute labor of love,” Nancy Schmeichel told Atlas Obscura.
As the younger generation no longer wants pie to be associated with death, raisin pie seems to have disappeared from memorial tables. However, funeral cake is considered a deliciously sweet and comforting treat.
How to make a funeral cake:
Here’s how to make a funeral cake from Atlas Obscura’s favorite recipe, adapted by Julie Falsetti in York Dispatcher:
• Store-bought or homemade pie dough is enough for a 9-inch double-crust pie.
• 4 cups raisins
• 4 glasses of water
• 1 cup packaged brown sugar
• 4 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1. Soak raisins in water for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C). Pour the raisins and water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about five minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Add mixture to saucepan with raisins. Cook over medium heat and stir until mixture thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, zest and oil. Set aside to cool.
5. Line a 9-inch pie dish with one sheet of prepared pastry and pour cooled filling inside.
6. Using a sharp knife, cut the other sheet of pastry into strips about 2.5 cm wide. Carefully tie the strips together into a wire rack and place on top of the pie, pinching the edges of the crust together and discarding any protruding parts.
7. Put the cake on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
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