Dump cakes are a classic Scouting Dutch oven dessert; however, most of the dump cakes I have encountered over the years have not been very successful. The cake mix doesn’t cook properly and there are pockets of dry powder and ugh! No, thank you.
However, back in June, I was prepping for a week at the Chisholm Trail High Adventure Camp in Texas with the older scouts of my son’s Boy Scout troop. At the end of the week, my scouts expected the Scoutmaster and I to enter the dump cake cookoff. I didn’t want to let them down so I spent some time wrapping my brain around the dump cake concept and I discovered a few things.
While it is, in fact, called a “dump” cake, I don’t believe that you literally just dump the ingredients in the Dutch oven. I believe a wee bit of mixing is still needed for a successful dump cake.
When making a dump cake, I believe there are 2 outcomes you are going for. One is more of a cobbler style with fruit on the bottom and cake on the top. The other is more of a crisp style with fruit on the bottom and a crunchy crumb mixture on top.
For the cobbler style dump cake, add your fruit to the bottom of the Dutch oven. In a bowl, mix your cake mix with whatever you are going to use for the liquid. You could follow the instructions on the box and use eggs, oil, milk or water or you can use a can of soda pop for your liquid. The soda pop is a fun way to introduce some additional flavor and it adds a weird element that kids find exciting. Pour your cake and soda mixture carefully over the fruit and bake.
For the crisp style dump cake, add your fruit to the bottom of the Dutch oven. In a bowl, using a pastry cutter, 2 forks, or your fingers, cut butter into the cake mix until it resembles course crumbs. You could also stir in some chopped nuts for additional crunch. Sprinkle your crumb mixture over the fruit and bake.
Making your dump cakes this way is going to be far more successful and provide a dessert that you actually want to eat.
So what did we end up making for the Dump Cake Cookoff at High Adventure Camp in Texas? Well, we had one can of Sprite that we’d purchased in advance at the Trading Post. We had to guard it for days to make sure it didn’t get drank! All we had for a measuring cup was a large paper cup. The pie fillings were in the big #10 cans and the cake mixes were likewise in bulk in 10lb bags, so the Scoutmaster and I worked together and we totally winged it.
I chose peach pie filling and he chose the yellow cake mix. We thought those would go nicely with each other and would be different from all the chocolate dumps cakes we were watching being made. While I spooned the peach pie filling into the bottom of the Dutch oven, he mixed the cake mix with the Sprite. I dusted the top of the peaches with our secret ingredient we’d packed from home, aka, cinnamon. We carefully poured the cake mix over the peaches and took the Dutch oven to the campfire to bake. Because we were using coals from the fire, we had to eyeball it, but I think we did pretty good. We were done in the allotted time with only a small burnt spot on top, which I scraped off before we served.
Unfortunately, the judges chose chocolate dump cakes as the winners; however, all the scouts who tasted our dump cake said it should have won, so we feel we won the popular vote!
Soon, I’ll post the Dump Cake I made at Summer Camp this summer. And, yes, it was chocolate!
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