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.
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Easy dump cake recipes are always welcome in this blog.
It's a simple fruit bake, a no-fuss dessert similar to a cobbler that can have a few shortcuts if you use purchased pie filling. My personal favorite is the caramel apple dump cake, and a close second is the unique chocolate cherry dump cake.
Even though our first love here will always be from-scratch baking, we love dump cakes (or cake mix cobblers as they're also called) because they're one of the easiest recipes to make for gatherings and outdoor celebrations.
They come together quickly and I yet have to find someone who doesn't like this delicious dessert warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. You be the judge.
About this recipe
- Flavor: I mix strawberry pie filling that is briefly cooked with more fresh sweet strawberries for an extra boost of berry flavor.
- Make ahead: besides being quick and easy to assemble (especially if you use purchased pie filling), it can be kept refrigerated for a few days and frozen for several weeks.
- Great for a crowd: similar to crisps and crumbles, this recipe can be easily doubled and you can put together several dishes of strawberry dump cake at the same time. So it's one of the easiest dessert recipes for barbecues, pot lucks, picnics, and other similar activities.
- Dry cake mix: the type you find in the supermarket or grocery store, whatever brand you want. I like yellow cake mix, but white cake mix works well too. Strawberry cake mix can also be used, but I can't vouch for the flavor as I've never tried it.
- Butter: use unsalted melted butter, whatever brand you use regularly.
- Homemade strawberry filling:
Strawberries. Fresh berries are always my first choice, but pie filling can be made with frozen ones.
Sugar. You can use white sugar or light brown sugar, both work very well.
Cornstarch. It's used to thicken the filling and create that wonderful syrupy juice.
Lemon juice. Some lemon juice enhances the flavors and adds some acidity.
Orange juice. Together with the lemon, it adds sweetness and pairs very well with the strawberries.
- Fresh strawberries. You can omit them but they add a different texture and freshness.
- OR Store-bought strawberry pie filling can be used, but I always make my own.
How to assemble a dump cake
- Fruit layer: spread the homemade or canned pie filling on the bottom of the baking dish you'll be using. Keep in mind that these types of desserts are served directly from the dish they're baked in, so choose one that you like to have on the table.
- Topping: this layer is simply a matter of combining the dry cake mix with the melted butter in a mixing bowl to create a thick rather floury mixture that barely clumps together. It's not wet but quite crumbly, with some dry spots, and this makes the cobbler topping very crunchy after it's baked.
The traditional way is to add thin slices of butter on top of the cake mix, but I find that using melted butter is easier and creates a crunchier top layer.
Baking a dump cake
The crunchy topping bakes to a golden brown and the fruit bubbles as it creates its own syrupy sauce.
The key is to make sure the topping is not only golden and dry on the outside but also fully baked inside, so check by lifting it slightly with a fork here and there. You should not find any wet dough inside. Bake it a little longer if that is not the case.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Fruit/topping ratio: the amount of fruit layer to topping is essential to creating the best strawberry dump cake recipe. Too much strawberry filling or too much cake mixture and the magic of this dessert is lost. My personal recommendation is don't overdo it with the topping. Cake mixes are quite sweet so if you add too thick a layer, the strawberry flavor will be somewhat hidden. But you follow your own palate and feel free to adjust.
- Serving it: as with most simple desserts, I find that the best way is slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (another great option is strawberry ice cream). But, if that's not possible - because you don't have access to an oven or fridge - it's also really good at room temperature. Adding some additional fresh strawberries is a great idea.
- Variations: you can use other cake mixes like orange or lemon and add some extra zest for a more pronounced citrus flavor. Or add a touch of ground cinnamon and/or vanilla extract and use brown sugar in the strawberry filling for a sweeter dessert with warmer flavors.
- Chocolate strawberry dump cake: these two flavors pair very well, so you can use your favorite chocolate cake mix instead and follow the instructions and use the rest of the ingredients in the recipe card.
- Spongier topping: if you want a more doughy, spongy topping and less crumbly, add a tablespoon or two more melted butter. It should be moist with no floury patches. Be aware that it usually takes longer to be fully baked and that the topping will spread more.
Frequently asked questions
Because you literally dump the pie filling in the baking dish, and then dump the cake mix on top of it. If you use canned pie filling that is literal. If you use homemade filling it involves a little more prep work but is still very easy.
This dessert keeps for a day at room temperature. After that, refrigerate it, well covered, for several days. Fruit dishes can ferment if left outside, especially if the environment is warm.
Besides a golden brown top and bubbly filling, you have to check that the inside of the topping is fully baked. For this, you can lift it here and there with a fork and verify that it's fully baked and not still wet.
Yes, you can. Wrap it well, first with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. You can freeze it in the baking dish or transfer to an airtight container if freezing leftovers.
Warm the dump cake before eating in a preheated oven at a medium temperature (around 325°F/165°C). About 15 minutes if it's at room temperature and 25-30 minutes if it's cold from the refrigerator. Don't rush it, you want the middle part of the dessert to be warm also, not just the top and bottom.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the filling:
- 1 pound strawberries
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 extra cup of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- One 21 oz can of strawberry pie filling
For the topping:
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups (225g) yellow or white cake mix
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Have ready an 8x11-inch ceramic or glass dish.
For the filling:
- Wash, hull, and cut the strawberries into pieces.
- Place in a medium saucepan and add the lemon juice, orange juice, and sugar. Stir to mix.
- Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble, stirring a few times.
- Meanwhile, completely dissolve the cornstarch in a small bowl with the water.
- Add in a thin stream to the strawberries stirring constantly and cook for 1 to 2 minutes when it starts to boil again. This will cook the cornstarch and remove its floury flavor.
- Remove from the heat and dump into the prepared baking pan or dish.
For the topping:
- Mix cake mix with the melted butter until you have a crumbly mixture.
- Sprinkle over the strawberry layer. It will not cover it completely and that is fine. Don't stir it and mix it with the filling.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden and dry and the filling bubbles around the edges, checking close to the end of the baking time by lifting the topping here and there and making sure it's completely baked inside. Bake it more if necessary.
- Serve warm plain, with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Top with extra fresh sliced strawberries if you want to.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Fruit/topping ratio: the amount of fruit layer to topping is essential to creating the best strawberry dump cake recipe. Too much strawberry filling or too much cake mixture and the magic of this dessert is lost. My personal recommendation is don't overdo it with the topping. Cake mixes are quite sweet so if you add too thick a layer, the strawberry flavor will be somewhat hidden. But you follow your own palate and feel free to adjust.
Variations: you can use other cake mixes like orange or lemon and add some extra zest for a more pronounced citrus flavor. Or add a touch of ground cinnamon and/or vanilla extract and use brown sugar in the strawberry filling for a sweeter dessert with warmer flavors.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: strawberry dump cake