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 MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.