What is a throwdown, you ask? It is a recipe that goes together in a snap, often using major shortcuts, and still allows you to serve a fresh baked (cooked) meal to your people. I have tried to avoid this for the most part because I think “from scratch” cooking is easier than most people think and I like sharing that. Plus, I figured that everyone already had a full set of “throwdowns.”
Yet, last week when I was visiting my friend Margaret in Cotuit, Massachusetts, she made the very good point that one can never have enough throwdown recipes on hand AND that just because I assume that you have all the same throwdowns as I do does not mean that you do. So, while I will continue to bring you the fresh, from scratch recipes, I’m also going to start peppering PIE with a few throwdowns, savory and sweet alike. Thanks for the nudge, Margaret, because some of these are real treasures.
To wit, my Grandma Katie, who lived in Wichita Falls, next door for a good portion of my life, had a few standard throwdowns. I spent a good (and shameful) part of my life near her acting as though this particular recipe was not good enough for me. Truth be told, it was a wonder I never contracted scurvy considering how few fruits or berries ever touched my tongue. I wanted brownies, not fruit. So I acted like there was a problem with the food instead of acknowledging the real problem, that I was a shit.
This recipe is essentially a cobbler in result, and due to the fact that it contained fruit, I never tasted until this week this family treasure that I turned my nose up at for years…decades, in fact. This is known as Dump Cake. I promise that you have an aunt, mother, or grandmother who has a 40 year old recipe for dump cake scribbled onto a recipe card somewhere. This is the epitome of a throwdown.
To qualify as a throwdown, a recipe only need be easy, very easy, and made with on-hand ingredients that are obtainable at a small corner store. This is the reason I also refer to these as “lake recipes.” I’d have to be able to get the list at my favorite rural, lake grocery store such as The Trading Post on “The Peninsula” at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. The Best Lake Grocery Store!
This dessert is composed of canned pie filling, canned crushed pineapple, boxed cake mix, pecans and butter. Leave out the pecans if you truly want to wallow in the not-at-all-fresh-ness of the list.
But note, if you will, there is not a lake market, corner store, or well curated gas station that will not have the ingredients. And the paucity of perishables makes it a home-run item for vacations where you have to tote your own ingredients. In fact, though I haven’t tried it, my guess is that it would be killer on a camp out, cooked in a Dutch oven.
Anyway, I’m all grown up now, Grandma Katie. I’ve eaten in fine restaurants and I’ve cooked with the freshest ingredients from exotic locales. I have made towering cakes from scratch. And, your dump cake still stands the test of time. It is delicious, inexpensive, and it is easy. With 7 kids, their spouses, 15 grandkids, and a limited budget, it needed to be. So between dimensions I’d like to officially say, “I’m sorry, and I’m the luckiest women in the world to have had you for a grandma.”
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Do NOT prepare the cake mix according to the package directions. It will be used dry.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. DUMP the can of cherry pie filling into the baking dish and spread it around with a spoon. DUMP the can of crushed pineapple on top of the cherries and stir it into the cherries. DUMP the dry cake mix on top of the fruit and distribute it evenly around the pan (perhaps sprinkle instead of DUMP). Distribute the pecan pieces on top of the dry cake mix. Finally, carefully pour the melted butter around the pan, on top of the cake mix ensuring that it makes it to the edges and corners.
3. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit filling is bubbly.
4. Serve as is, with whipped cream, or with vanilla ice cream.
I chose this particular box of cake mix because several years ago, Cooks Illustrated ranked it as one of their top picks for yellow cake mixes. The three best reviewed mixes were Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix, Betty Crocker Super Moist Golden Vanilla Cake Mix, and Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic Yellow Cake Mix. My notes from Katie indicate that you can use any type of pie filling that you like, so if cherries don’t do it for you…DUMP something else in there. And by the way, I called this Katie Cake because I really don’t like the title Dump Cake…it just sounds kind of gross. But dump cake it is…so dump away.
So, are you a purist, or are you a fan of the THROWDOWN? Let me know what you think about the concept and whether you would like to see more recipes such as this one on PIE.