Milwaukee Public Library Historic Recipe File
In a 2013 op-ed for The Baptist News, Dallas-based pastor Mark Wingfield recalled a disappointing post-funeral feast: “There was no green bean casserole, no fried chicken, no homemade rolls, no chocolate cake. Finally, someone in the family drove over to KFC to bring home the kind of food we all needed in the moment. And did I mention there wasn’t even a single piece of chocolate cake brought to the house?” “Is it wrong of me to think of chocolate cake as heaven-sent?” Not when it brings comfort at a funeral.
A funeral cake is served during the reception held after the service. While some areas have a traditional recipe, others now look to fancy, decorated options that honour their deceased loved one. There were funeral cakes once just as we still have wedding cakes. These funeral cakes were the result of mourners coming from long distances A large cake would be baked, generally with the initials of the departecd iced on the top, cut into slices and served to the mourners, who did then as we now do with the pieces of wedding cake preserved them for a long time, as souvenirs of the occasion. Funeral cakes are still in vogue at funerals in rural England.
The cakes were decorated with symbolic patterns. Molds carved from wood or sometimes made of iron or stone were used to stamp decorative impressions on the cakes before baking Weaver has several molds including one of marble carved by a gravestone-maker from Schenectady NY Weaver said the Hudson Valley was also a centre for the carving of wooden molds from apple or beech wood. “The rose and the heart were the most common designs” he said “The rooster symbolizing resurrection was also used as was the fish for Christ and the dove Designs used on gravestones frequently show up The three plumes that decorate a hearse and the Masonic symbol were some others” Among the Pennsylvania Dutch raisin pie was usually served after a funeral often brought by mourners as a gift to the family of the deceased a tradition imported from Germany– also read How Heavenly Funeral Potatoes Got Their Name
“Uninvited but unobserved, the mourners, partaken of the funeral cake and funeral wine. Being Invested with the conventional black kid gloves, hatband and scarf, and so arrayed had been ushered into a mourning coach, and had followed to the grave the mortal remains of some fellow-creature whom he did not know from the man in the moon”.