Decadent Thanksgiving desserts start from a dump cake

Make the holiday a little less hectic by skipping the from-scratch dessert in favor of a jazzed-up cake mix.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • A box cake mix and a can of filling works wonders.

This year, I’ve decided to make it a little easier for myself by making desserts that are easy to understand and simple to make.

So instead of baking cakes from scratch, I am going to make two classics in the potluck circles, using box cake mixes and canned fruit fillings.

One of them is the dump cake, which is exactly what the name implies — canned fruit or pie filling, nuts and a box cake. The Autumn Dump Cake is made with canned pears and apple pie filling and a yellow cake mix. The dried cranberries give this cake a color boost and the caramel gives it another boost of sweet flavor.

The second recipe, Belgian Pumpkin Torte, is similar to a dump cake because it’s made with a box cake mix and canned pumpkin. My cousin Elaine Kray mailed me this recipe a few months ago. This dessert will be a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Autumn Dump Cake

Any type of pie filling and canned fruit can be used to make a dump cake but the pears, apple pie filling and caramel seemed to fit the season. A scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream adds extra flavor to this dessert.

  • 1 (29-ounce) can pear slices in light syrup, drained (reserve 1/2 cup syrup)
  • 1 (21-ounce) can apple-pie filling
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping, warmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Drain pears, reserving 1/2 cup of the syrup. Spread pears and apple pie filling in pan; drizzle with reserved syrup. Sprinkle with cranberries.

Top with cake mix, spreading evenly. Then top with butter in single layer, covering cake mix as much as possible. Drizzle with caramel topping.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

— “Favorite Brand Name Dump Recipes” (Publications International Ltd. 2015; $19.95).


PG tested

The cake mix is used as a base for the torte and also for a streusel topping.

For crust:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup of the cake mix for the topping)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil

For filling:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can pumpkin-pie filling
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

For topping:

  • Remaining 1 cup cake mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Place cake mix (less 1 cup), egg and oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Press the batter over the bottom and sides of the pan. Mix filling ingredients together and pour over the crust.

Mix remaining 1 cup cake mix, sugar and butter together and crumble over the top of the filling. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped nuts over topping, if desired.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes about 3 dozen bars depending on size.

— From cousin Elaine Kray.