Pioneer Woman recently published the original recipe for dump cake. This has been around for awhile, and is a pleasant dessert, fruity and warm, nice as a follow-on to a homestyle meal of comfort foods.
The key to making a good dump cake, incidentally, is to cover the top completely with butter before baking it. Pioneer Woman's photo of the pre-baked top isn't quite accurate, I think. You have to meticulously slice the butter into paper thin slices and place them edge to edge to completely cover the top. If you don't do this, you will get powdery spots. Unfortunately, this step makes an otherwise incredibly easy recipe into a very putzy one. That being said, it is still really tasty and worth making. Also, it is No Fail. Really.
However--I have a variation on dump cake that is absolutely delicious and AWAYS gets rave reviews. If you like apple pie or apple cobbler, you will LOVE this:
Ruthie's Dump Cake
1 can apple pie filling
2 cans (~15 oz., or one  28-30 oz. can) sliced pears in light syrup
1 spice cake mix
1/2 to 3/4 cup butter
heavy cream or ice cream
Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Mix apple pie filling and pears (do not drain) in a large bowl. Turn into pan. Spread the cake mix evenly over the top. Completely cover with thin slices of butter. Bake at 350 for about an hour. Serve warm, drizzled with unsweetened heavy cream (or ice cream, but heavy cream is better).
Yesterday I had a craving for dessert. We had not had dessert for a number of days, unless you count a half a package of Chips Ahoy that came back from the beach with us. I was craving dessert, but I thought I had about 30 minutes to make it, beginning to end, because I thought I had to pick Shannon up from school.
Later, I remembered that she was going out for ice-cream with friends after her organic chemistry test, so I actually would have had time to make just about anything, but at the time I did not realize this. It turned out OK, because if I had known I had unlimited time and didn't have to improvise, I never would have discovered what I discovered
I had a yellow cake mix, but I was afraid that if I made a cake, I would have to leave to get Shannon before it was ready to come out of the oven. I also had very limited frosting ingredients, and was not excited about my options there.
What I really wanted was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. That is what I wanted. But I had no chocolate cake mix, no baking chocolate, and only a very little bit of cocoa. I did, however, find a can of apple pie filling. But... I didn't have any canned pears (they don't sell them in bulk at Sam's). I had canned peaches, though. I decided to try a variation on a dump cake. It came out GREAT! Here it is...
Ruthie's Variation on her Dump Cake
1 can apple pie filling
2 cans (15 oz.) sliced peaches
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon orange peel (the kind that comes in a spice jar)
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
cinnamon sugar (if you don't have any--> 2 tsp. cinnamon stirred into 1 cup sugar)
Grease your 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, mix pie filling, peaches, pumpkin pie spice and orange peel. Spread this in the 9 x 13. Because I was in a terrible hurry, I did not have time to painstakingly slice and place pieces of butter all over the top of a cake mix, so I just whipped out my Cuisinart and processed the cake mix, the butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar until they were evenly combined. Then I spread this on top of the fruit. Finally, to give a nice crystallized finish, I sprinkled the whole top with a few spoonfuls of cinnamon sugar (which we always keep handy in a canister so we can make cinnamon toast). Bake at 350 for an hour. Serve warm drizzled with heavy cream. This is a winner. I would definitely make it on purpose.
[p.s. I wasn't worried about getting it out of the oven when I left to pick up Shannon, because I have a time-bake feature on my oven and I knew that if the oven went off after an hour, the dump cake would be just fine sitting in there, staying hot for us, unlike a more fussy dessert that would dry out or something.]
[p.p.s. Shannon was full when she got home, which means that maybe there will be an extra piece of dump cake somewhere along the line---for moi?]