Funeral Cakes were in fact, a very real and a very common thing. They were used not only as refreshments, but also as a keep sake for the mourners. These small Victoria sponges were usually wrapped in white paper and sealed with black wax and a skull seal. Here is a recipe for "Victorian Funeral Cakes" (taken from the New York Times):
Total time: 35 minutes 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 2 large eggs, beaten 1 cup milk 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour 18 2 1/2-inch muffin-tin cups.
2. In a medium-size bowl, mix sugar, flour and baking powder. In a small bowl, mix eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until mixed.
3. Fill muffin cups halfway. Bake on the middle level of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Immediately remove the cakes from the cups, and let cool on racks for 15 minutes. Sift confectioners' sugar over each cake.
Yield: 18 cakes.