Dump cakes are delicious cobbler-like desserts. They're very quick to assemble and you can mix and match the filling and topping flavors. They make great additions to potlucks, picnics, barbecues, and family dinners. They freeze well and keep for a few days in the refrigerator, so you can make them ahead. You can go straight to the dump cake recipes if that's what you're here for.
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Why is it called a dump cake?
These desserts have a layer of pie filling topped by a cobbler-like topping.
The original recipe uses cans of fruit filling, a box of cake mix, and thinly sliced cold butter pieces.
The first two are literally opened and dumped into the baking dish, hence the name, and the butter slices are arranged on top of the cake mix in an even layer, covering it. A simple dessert recipe that became very popular among busy moms decades ago.
You can choose to make homemade pie filling, as I do. And I also found a way of mixing the cobbler-like topping that delivers the best results. At least in my opinion.
What is the difference between cobbler and dump cake?
The main difference is the topping and there are different types: traditional biscuits, drop biscuits, and pie crust.
A dump cake's topping is made with cake mix and butter. The final result can vary and be more floury or crunchier depending on how you mix those two ingredients.
The fruit layer of both is basically fruit pie filling, and though a cobbler generally uses homemade recipes, you can make it with store-bought.
What does a dump cake taste like?
It's a cross between a cobbler and a crustless crumb pie. It's a dessert more than a cake in the traditional way, but we call it that because it uses a boxed cake mix.
How do dump cakes work?
During baking, the butter melts and the juices in the fruit are released to moisten the dry cake mix. This bakes the floury topping in a cobbler-like fashion, crumbly and with a soft, biscuit-like interior sometimes, but not like the regular layer cakes we're used to.
How to assemble a dump cake
- Bottom layer: it's usually fruit-based, but there are other types, like the pumpkin dump cake, that don't include them.
You can use canned, store-bought pie filling, or make your own. I usually make it because I usually don't find purchased fillings that I like. And they're so easy to make from scratch! Yes, super easy, just check this peach pie filling recipe.
- Top layer: it involves two ingredients, cake mix and butter. I like to mix both and use melted butter because the topping is crunchier and bakes better (like the cherry dump cake). But the original recipes call for evenly sprinkling the boxed mix and covering it with thin slices of cold butter, as we do in this chocolate cherry dump cake.
Do you stir a dump cake?
No, you don't, in theory at least. What I strongly recommend is that you check that there are no large dry spots on top mid-way through baking, after all the butter has melted and started to seep into the cake mix. If that is the case, you might want to add a thin slice of butter to cover it and continue baking the dessert further.
Family style desserts
Dump cakes are baked in ceramic or glass dishes and then taken to the table. They are not removed from the pan. Similar to crisps and crumbles.
What type of dish to use
Choose a nice baking dish, one you like to showcase on the table.
For me, ceramic ones are the best (I use my favorite Emile Henry small ceramic rectangular dish whenever I can). There are several rectangular ceramic dishes, porcelain bakeware sets, glass baking dishes, or round ceramic baking dish that work.
Also, a cast-iron skillet fits this type of dessert if you like the Southern way.
How to serve dump cakes
- Temperature: I don't recommend them too cold because it's harder to grasp the full flavors, but anywhere from cool to room temperature is fine. Of course, that's my, and my friends' opinion and I encourage you to find your own sweet spot.
- Plain: they're fantastic on their own. This is especially good when taking them to potlucks and picnics.
- With ice cream or whipped cream: similar to crumbles and cobblers, these desserts are amazing slightly warm (not hot) with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of sweet whipped cream.
- Toppings: drizzle caramel sauce or dulce de leche, chocolate sauce or fudge, sprinkle with chopped nuts or chocolate chips, fresh fruit, or berries.
How long do they last?
They last for about 5 days in the fridge and a month frozen. But they can be eaten a few hours after they're baked, especially if you serve them warm.
Do they need to be refrigerated?
Yes, it does after it's completely cooled down. You can leave it at room temperature for several hours, but fruit desserts are best kept chilled to prevent them from fermenting too quickly and going bad.
Can you make a dump cake ahead of time?
Yes, you can! And it's a great way to plan a dessert for a gathering. The baked dump cake will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, well covered in plastic wrap. Simply let it come to room temperature before serving, or slightly warm it in a medium oven and serve it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Can you freeze them?
Absolutely! And it keeps for a month. Cover it well, first in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, and label it. Thaw at room temperature and warm slightly in a medium oven before serving.
You can flavor the fillings and toppings to match your own palate. So be inventive and let your imagination fly. Try new cake mix flavors and jazz up pie fillings to make dump cakes your own.
Easy Cherry Dump Cake
A super easy fruit dessert that comes together quickly (ready in under an hour) and can be made ahead. It has a layer of cherry pie filling (homemade or store-bought) and a cobbler-like topping made with boxed cake mix. It's delicious and a great way to take advantage of seasonal cherries.
Peach Dump Cake
If you never made a dump cake you're in for a sweet surprise. It's one of the easiest desserts ever and it includes a shortcut: cake mix. A layer of juicy peaches with a crunchy topping that bakes to a golden brown and is fantastic! Similar to a cobbler, it's very simple to put together
A quick, easy dessert with amazing flavors, this dump cake is a must-bake when berry season hits. We make our own strawberry filling, but you can use canned pie filling. The sweet topping is similar to a cobbler but made with cake mix (yes, store-bought) for a unique flavor and quick assembly.
Caramel Apple Dump Cake
This is a very simple recipe that combines favorite flavors: caramel, cinnamon, and apples. A layer of sweet pie filling is topped with the easiest 2-ingredient crumble for an easy dessert everyone will rave about. Similar to an apple cobbler, it's fall baking at its best.
Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake
Few ingredients and minimal work make this cake a delicious and easy dessert for any occasion. You can make it more or less from scratch, with only store-bought components or with a quick homemade filling. The combination of flavors is wonderful and it can be ready in an hour.
Blueberry Dump Cake
This is one of those recipes to make often because it's so easy! A layer of juicy berries and a crisp topping make this a last-minute dessert that is sure to be a success. I have tested many dump cakes and this is the version that won. Read all in this post.