How to make a dump cake & our recipe for an easy apple dump cake
Dump. Cake. How can those two words even go together? Without a doubt, the humble dump cake has one of the worst names ever, but this sweet treat has still managed to stay popular since its introduction in the mid-sixties.
One reason that these desserts have remained a favorite is probably because dump cake recipes are some of the easiest things you could possibly make. No bowls are needed, because there’s not any mixing required — just dump a few ingredients in a pan, and put it in the oven to bake.
Yes, it’s really that simple.
It typically starts with a base of canned fruit filling, then adds a box of powdered cake mix, followed by melted butter, then and nuts or any other topping you’d care to add.
The result is a tasty dessert that, despite cake mix being a main ingredient, actually comes out more like a fruit cobbler than a traditional cake.
It’s easy to mix things up
Although they’re simple, dump cakes can be really versatile. You can use almost any kind of fruit or fruit filling — such as apple, cherry, berry or pineapple — and many people use a combination of two.
You may also choose different flavors of cake mix — such as the popular yellow and chocolate mixes, or go crazy with vanilla, butter pecan, carrot, strawberry, lemon or any other varieties.
For the recipe pictured here, we used an apple filling and a box of old-fashioned spice cake mix.
In the end, this “cake” is better than something with “dump” in the name has any right to be — and it also tastes better than it looks. (In other words, if you’re looking for a picture-perfect party centerpiece, you will probably want to go with another kind of cake recipe.)
So if you’re looking for a dessert that meets needs little advance planning and can be made with stuff you probably already have at home, a dump cake might just be worth trying.
The sixties & the beginning of dump cake popularity
One of the oldest recipes resembling a modern-day dump cake was published in Indiana’s Kokomo Morning Times on July 24, 1966. The recipe was for a pineapple dessert, also featuring coconut and pecans:
Pinapple-coconut dump cake recipe
1 large can crushed pineapple (No. 2 can, or 20 ounces / 2-1/2 cups)
1 package yellow cake mix
1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine
1 small package coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Spread pineapple in 8×11 ungreased pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the pineapple. Slice the butter evenly over the cake mix. Sprinkle coconut and chopped pecans ove the butter. Bake at 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
Don’t dump your dump cake recipes
Published in the News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida) – September 25, 1975
After getting in the kitchen and baking the dump cake, we can give details and say it makes a tasty dessert with little effort. The recipe is given below, but the hints about method are most important.
First, the pan. I used what might be called a biscuit pan — 9×13 inches or so. This allows for the cake mix to be spread over a large surface, making a thinner layer of it. The biggest complaint from others who tried the cake was that the cake mix remained dry on top of the fruit.
I greased the pan with shortening and poured (dumped) in the can of cherry pie filling, scraping out the can to get it all in and spreading it out over most of the bottom, just leaving a little space around all edges. Now you dump over the crushed pineapple — undrained — spreading that out.
Next, spoon over the fruit a box of cake mix, dry. (I used Betty Crocker pound cake mix.) Try to get an even sprinkling of the mix over the top. Over this, dot pieces of the margarine (one stick), an,d finally, top off the whole thing with a sprinkling of chopped nuts, if desired.
Put the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven, and it will be done in about 50 minutes, but watch for it to become brown on top, with the cake mix cooked.
There’s still one step to tell, perhaps the most important one. As soon as the margarine has melted, open the oven and with a spatula or spoon, or something, smooth over the top. This distributes the margarine evenly over, and somewhat into, the cake mix.
The cake is good warm or cold. It cuts into more even squares when cold, of course. it costs $2.25 to $2.50 to make the cake — the pie cherry pie filling costs around 79 cents, but it serves 15, probably.
How to make our apple pie dump cake recipe, step-by-step
Step 1: Layer the applesauce and canned apples in a pan
Steps 2 & 3: Add dry cake mix and melted butter
Step 4: Add cinnamon and nutmeg before putting it in the oven (optional)
Step 5: Bake! Then let cool.
Step 6: Serve your apple dump cake while warm, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream (though some say it’s best eaten cold)
Variation: Easier apple pie dump cake recipe
1-1/2 sticks margarine
1 18-ounce box yellow cake mix
2 cans prepared apple pie filling
Melt 1/2 stick margarine in large pan. Sprinkle about 1/3 box of cake mix over that. Pour prepared apple pie filling over cake mix. Sprinkle remaining cake mix over apples. Cut up remaining margarine over top. Bake at 350 degrees until brown, about 45 to 55 minutes.
Variation: Spiced apple dump cake recipe
1 can apples [presumably unsweetened]
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 18-ounce box spice cake mix
1 cup nuts
2 sticks margarine
Place apples in 9×13-inch pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar; pour dry cake mix over that. Next, sprinkle nuts on top. Slice margarine over entire top of pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 1 hour. Serve warm with ice cream.
Variation: Cherry-pineapple dump cake recipe
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can (large) crushed pineapple
1 box cake mix (white or yellow)
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Spread pie filling over most of the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan. Pour over pineapple, undrained, and spread cake mix over that. Dot with pieces of margarine and sprinkle top with nuts.
Place in preheated 350 F oven. When pieces of butter have melted, spread melted butter evenly over top of the cake mix, so it will cook into cake mix.
It will be brown on top and the cake mix will be cooked into a crust in about 50 minutes. Ovens vary; watch as baking time comes to completion.
Retro recipes revisited: Classic apple pie dump cake recipe
We made our cake based on several different ideas published during the 70s and 80s.
Is it the best apple dump cake recipe ever? We thought it was pretty amazing, but the “best” ranking would be up to you. We can tell you that one of the best things about making this dessert is that there is lots of room for creativity!