Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dutch Oven Dump Cake Cobbler, Mastered!

Let me make a confession:  I’ve never really liked to cook dump cake cobblers.

Dump cake cobblers, for the uninitiated, is a Dutch oven tradition.  You put some canned peaches with their juice in the bottom of the Dutch oven, and then you shake a cake mix on top.  Sometimes, you put butter on top of the floating mix.  As it cooks, the juices boil up and mix with the cake mix, and the butter (if there is some) melt down into the bubbling mire.  Cool (just a little) and serve with ice cream.

Let me reiterate:  I’ve never really liked to cook dump cake cobblers.

I’ve been of that opinion for two reasons:  1) EVERYBODY does them.  I mean E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y does them.  And everyone that I talk to about Dutch oven cooking remembers having one once and it tasted soooooo gooooood.  No matter how much I talk about fancy meats and elaborate desserts, someone always says, “Yeah, but can you do a cobbler like that?”

And that leads me to reason 2)  I couldn’t do them!  For some reason, they never turned out the way I wanted them to.  They were either too runny and sloppy, or the cake mix never mixed and you ended up with dried out powder on top.

I figured that there were two issues that were preventing me from getting the perfect dump cake cobbler each time. One was the balance of peach syrup to how much cake mix was on top, and the other was the placement of the heat to make it boil up properly.

Part of the problem in the past was that, since EVERYBODY does these desserts, EVERYBODY does them just a little differently.  So, resolving the issue by research didn’t get me anywhere.  I had to experiment.  Last Sunday, I think I found the balance of all the factors.  The crust on top was an actual crusty cake, but not a dry powder.  The peaches on the bottom were nicely blended in with the cake.  It tasted great!

So, here’s the result:

Mark’s version of the Dutch Oven Dump Cake Cobbler

12” shallow Dutch oven

12 coals below
12 coals above

  • 2 15 oz cans peaches in light syrup
  • 2 boxes yellow cake mix
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Liberal shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg
  • 1 stick butter

I start (after lighting up some coals) by opening the cans of peaches and pouring them, with the syrup, directly into the Dutch oven.  Then, I open up the boxes and bags of cake mix and sprinkle them over the peaches and syrup.

After many tries, I’ve decided that there should be a 1:1 ratio between cans of syrup and boxes of cake mix.  I also discovered that one box of cake mix is not enough in a 12” Dutch oven.  If I were doing this in a 10” Dutch oven, I would half everything.

Then, I crumble the brown sugar over the top of the cake mix, and sprinkle on the spices.  The final ingredient is to cut the stick of butter into small pieces and scatter that over the crust as well.  Then, the lid goes on, and the it the whole Dutch oven goes on the coals.

Now, if I were baking a normal dessert, I would put more coals on top, and fewer coals on the bottom.  In this case, however, I want more heat on the bottom to get the peach juice boiling up to blend with the cake mix.

I baked it for about 35 minutes before I checked it, rotating it once along the way.  I’m not really certain how to tell, but I thought to let it cook a bit longer than it looked.  I figured it would be hard to burn it, so I gave it another 10 minutes or so.

Then, I brought it in and let it cool some.  This not only kept it from burning my guest’s mouths, but it also gave the boiling syrup and the cake mix even more time to settle together.  Finally, we topped it and ate.  It was exactly as I had always wanted it to be.  A nice crust on top, a little bit runny blend underneath, and delicious peaches as a base  The sugar and the butter added a little crispiness and flavor, and the spices just took it to a new level.  It was great!  And the added taste of victory was especially sweet!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


  1. Dump cobber is to dutch oven as "Stairway to Heaven" is to guitar.

    We like to top ours with rolled oats or granola prior to cooking. Mmmm... crunchy.

  2. Mark,
    What size cans are you using? With two full-size cake mixes such as Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, etc., I am guessing that you use the 29 oz cans of peaches. Makes for a full oven. I also add a little brown sugar to mine. As you say, everyone does it different. Looking forward to trying your version!

  3. Look forward to trying your version!

  4. Agreeing with "Anonymous", I think one of the bigger issues with dump cakes is the size of cans. Most cans of fruit or fruit filling is the typical 'soup can' size. Canned peaches are usually in the slightly bigger cans. When I make peach dump cake, I go for the big #10 size can.

  5. I've started doing mine with two bags frozen peaches. I'll bring a bag of sugar, flour, cinnamon, and cornstarch with me to camp, then mix it with one of the bags, dump them in, add the cake mix, butter, and a 12 oz bottle of Sprite, and let it go. IMHO much better taste and texture than canned.

  6. I just came across your blog as I'm eating our first time ever Dutch oven peach cobbler! (Runny) with a mix of white powder top :) We are planning a big camping trip with our little ones and pop up this June and hope to get a couple Dutch oven recipes under our belt. Thanks for putting the time into this blog! I found it very funny and helpful! I'm looking forward to your version of cobbler ! Annette/Idaho

  7. I got this email:

    Hi Mark,

    We are just beginning our adventure of Dutch Oven cooking and we are so excited! I also love your blog, as it has definitely answered some questions for us.

    I want to make your “mastered” dump cake cobbler, but not sure what size cans of peaches you normally use?

    Can you help me out?

    We are going camping next week over the 4th and I am anxious to impress my family with some of your recipes!

    Cindy -Last Name removed-

    Just to clarify, I'm using the 15 oz cans, which are just a bit bigger than a typical soup can. Thanks for all the comments!

  8. Mark,
    I made this recipe and TOTALLY impressed the family!!! SO easy and SO yummy!
    Thanks so much.

  9. We use the Jiffy cake mix which I thing Mark is also using along with the 2 15 0z cans of peaches.

  10. if you baked this in a regular oven first what temperature should the oven be/? Thanks. Richard

  11. Question: How many servings does this usually make? Thanks!



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