We’ll say it: Food and death have a longstanding association in the South. What came to be called funeral cakes here began across the pond, possibly dating all the way back to the Vikings—but definitely back to the Victorians, who gave “funeral biscuits” to friends and family both as an invitation to the service and a memento of it. Southern Heritage Cakes explains our regional interpretation of this European tradition: “Every housekeeper had a certain recipe she could turn out at a moment’s notice. And, although not every cook was frank enough to call that recipe a ‘Funeral Cake,’ some did. It was to be baked in the caring tradition we still observe, taking food to the home of a bereaved family.” Our simple recipe is both kid-friendly and crowd-pleasing, the perfect pairing for hot tea or coffee.

Southern Living


Credit: Greg Dupree; Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe Summary test

15 mins
45 mins
2 dozen


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cooking spray. Stir together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, and melted butter; stir until just moistened. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin pans, filling each cup about halfway.

  • Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cakes comes out clean, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove cakes from muffin pan. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.