Behold, a dump cake. Perhaps the worst possible thing in the whole world to eat, but we managed.
Daughter-in-law Amber came to her marriage with, among many other things, a cast iron Dutch oven. As I was rummaging through the basement last week, I came upon it, looking lonely and forlorn. So I proposed that we take it on our trip to Roundrock that coming Sunday and make a dump cake in it. Since we were celebrating Amber’s birthday then anyway, that seemed fitting.
I had never heard of a dump cake until my sons were in the Scouts. Basically, it’s pie filling and cake mix, plus a stick or two of butter and a Dutch oven. It’s not the kind of thing your cardiologist would recommend, but we also had meals on our Scout campouts that were lovingly called “bypass on a plate.”
Anyway, you make a dump cake pretty much how it sounds. You dump the pie filling in the Dutch oven. You dump the cake mix straight from the box onto the pie filling. And you dump a bunch of butter (cut into little pats) onto that. Then you close the Dutch oven, put it on the coals, put some coals on top, and let it bake for about 45 minutes. (Some of the dads in the Scout troop were rigorous about this, counting the exact number of coals to go on the bottom and on the top, timing it to the second, and other such nonsense. Our cake, which came out perfectly, was much more casually approached.)
Amber’s choice was peach pie filling and yellow cake mix. I’ve known people to use cherry pie filling and chocolate cake. One man, who was our troop aficionado of dump cakes, always used fruit cocktail, which may have made sense given that pie filling has far too much sugar for human consumption.
Libby had prepared the cake (while Amber was busy inventorying the fish in my lake), and she sensibly lined the Dutch oven with foil. That made clean up much easier. I set the oven on the coals and shoveled some other coals on top. Then I nudged the glowing logs close in. Someone noted the time. Later someone remember to check the time. When I pulled the oven out of the coals and carefully lifted the lid (remember it was covered with embers and ash), the photo above is what greeted my eyes.
It tasted about like what you’d expect. It’s not quite a cobbler (my Kentucky grandmother made the best cobblers), and I think we could have used two boxes of cake mix to give it more body. The peaches bubbled up through the cake mix. The butter gave it a glaze. We devoured it all.
I don’t think I’ll ever have another dump cake, but I’m pretty sure there are plenty of other, sensible meals one can cook in a Dutch oven. We left it at the cabin. It’s waiting for me there right now.