How To Make A Dump Cake

Dump Cake

“What’s a dump cake?” is the question I hear whenever I introduce this campfire dessert to someone new.  The answer is easy: it’s a dessert made from dumping two (or three) simple ingredients into a cast iron dutch oven and baking it over the hot coals of a campfire.  Despite being called ‘cake’, it’s really more of a cobbler or crumble.  No matter what, it’s delicious, easy to make, and hard to screw up. 

To make a dump cake, you’ll need a cast iron dutch oven and a minimum of two cheap, easy-to-find ingredients.  The main ingredients in dump cake are canned pie filling and boxed cake mix; butter is optional.  If I have butter, I do like to dot the top of the cake with one or two tablespoons of it cut into pieces before setting the dutch oven on the coals, as I’ve found it helps prevent the cake from drying out.

I recommend lining your dutch oven with aluminum foil before preparing the cake.  Since dump cake is more akin to a cobbler than it is to an actual cake, the end result will be jammy when hot, and incredibly sticky when cool.  It is much, much easier to just lift a couple layers of aluminum foil out of your dutch oven than it is to scrub the remnants of a dump cake out of the bottom. 

The perfect ratio is 2 cans of pie filling to 1 box of cake mix, but it makes enough to feed four to six people.  If you are only feeding two people (or two people and a child, in our case), one can of pie filling and half a box of cake mix is perfect… and in which case I recommend buying two cans of pie filling and having dump cake on two nights of your camping trip! 

After lining your dutch oven with foil, open your pie filling and dump it in (this is where the name “dump cake” comes from).  Spread the pie filling out into an even layer on the bottom of the dutch oven, then sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the top.  I like to take a spoon or other utensil and gently move it through the cake mix and pie filling–not blending them together at all, just enough to encourage them to start mixing.  If you’re using butter, cut up one to two tablespoons and place them evenly over top of the cake mix. 

That’s it, you’ve made a dump cake.  All you have to do now is bake it!  Place the lid on the dutch oven and put it on some hot coals for about 20 minutes or until it “looks done”.  If your coals are hotter on one side, rotate your dutch oven about halfway through to ensure an even bake.  Take it off the coals, scoop a portion out onto your plate, and enjoy! 

Suggested pie filling and cake mix combinations: 

  • strawberry + chocolate cake
  • blueberry + yellow cake
  • peach + white cake
  • cherry + chocolate cake 
  • raspberry + yellow cake
  • pineapple + white cake
  • apple + yellow cake 
Tori Brenneison is a software developer/art historian from Cleveland, OH, USA. She loves anything outdoors, but especially hiking, camping, and off-roading.

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