Shameless Chef

The Shameless Chef: Dump Cake

My Dad was rummaging through some old recipes recently and came across one for "Dump Cake." Knowing how I choose to make my living, he of course passed the recipe on to me. "There's no way this is real," was my first thought, but he assured me that his mother, my grandmother, had made it many times. Indeed, a Google search revealed that this is actually a pretty common recipe, maybe even too common for a Shameless Chef entry, but once I saw the recipe, it was too late. I had to make it.

You will need:

• One can of cherry pie filling. I picked up the "Lite" version because I did not carefully read the label. • One can of crushed pineapple. • One stick of butter. • One bag of crushed pecans. • One box of yellow cake mix. Does Homeland Security still return results on a keyword search for "yellow cake"? If so, hi, you guys! If your government office has an oven, you can totally make this.

First, spray your baking pan down liberally with no-stick spray. You may even partake in the ritual of "dusting", which is when you apply a layer of oil over the pan and then lightly dust it with some flour. That kind of sounded like a pain in the ass, so I just sprayed and sprayed the pan until the kitchen and my lungs were choked with buttery aerosol. Perfect!

Once your pan is nice and coated, dump in the cherry filling and crushed pineapple and mix 'em together.

Now comes my favorite part: just sprinkle the yellow cake mix right on top of it. That's right, no mixing, beating, rolling or any of that hoity-toity shit, just dump the whole box right the hell over the filling like you're looking for the prize at the bottom. I mean, yeah, you'll probably want to even it out some.

That, of course, is why it's called "Dump Cake," and why I love it. Now cut the butter up into little pats and spread them over the top of the cake mix. Get a fairly even coating so that it cooks up nice and even (the melting butter will make sort of a cobbler-crust). Now sprinkle your pecans on top and stick it in the oven at 350 for about an hour.

While it was baking, I had all kinds of ideas for little "improvements" to make; substituting cookie pieces for the crumbled pecans, using cream cheese icing somehow, maybe add a layer of baked beans... the possibilities are endless. However, if you just make the simplest possible version here, the results are pretty delicious. It cooks up like a tart crumb cake and will bring a smile to the face of even those people who are right now writing an irritated comment about how baked beans would be awful in this recipe and I must be some kind of idiot. They're right, of course; everybody knows ranch-style beans are the bean of choice for mixing with yellow cake. Come on, what kind of rube do you take me for?

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Seaborn Gray