Almond-Rhubarb "From Scratch" Dump Cake Recipe

If you have ever been to a school cake walk or church potluck, you've likely experienced dump cake. This American classic is one of the quintessential convenience desserts to emerge from 1960s baking and originally layered canned pie filling, boxed cake mix, and a stick of butter together for an easy, anytime dessert. The result is reminiscent of both cake and cobbler, with a crispy top, cakey middle, and gooey fruit bottom. As quick and easy as dump cake is to prepare, it also packs a lot of sugar and preservatives in the pre-packaged ingredients. This almond-rhubarb "from scratch" dump cake recipe — courtesy of recipe developer Julie Kinnaird – uses tangy rhubarb, a touch of cinnamon, and ginger in place of pie filling and an easy, homemade cake mix for a fresh and delicious twist. This dump cake follows the same layering and no-mix formula as the classic and is finished with crunchy sliced almonds and freshly whipped almond cream. 

Gather the almond-rhubarb dump cake ingredients

For this recipe, you will need bright red stalks of fresh rhubarb, but frozen slices will also work in a pinch. The rhubarb is tossed with brown sugar, ground cinnamon and ginger, a bit of sea salt, and vanilla extract. For the homemade cake mix, you will need both all-purpose and finely ground blanched almond flour, baking powder for leavening, lemon zest for a bit of brightness, and a little more salt. This mixture is topped with a combination of melted and sliced butter. The melted butter seeps down into the mix to create a gooey texture, while the cold sliced butter is layered on top to help create a crisp crust. Sliced almonds are sprinkled over the butter for a bit of crunch. To make the fresh almond cream, you will need heavy whipping cream, a couple of tablespoons of confectioner's sugar, and pure almond extract to further enhance the almond flavor.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 2: Oil a baking dish

Lightly oil a 13x9-inch or equivalent-sized baking dish.

Step 3: Make the rhubarb filling

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the rhubarb, ¾ cup brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and vanilla extract.

Step 4: Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Step 5: Make the cake mix

In another large bowl, combine the all-purpose and almond flour, baking powder, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well.

Step 6: Add the lemon zest

Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.

Step 7: Spread the flour mixture over the rhubarb

Spread the flour mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the pan.

Step 8: Drizzle on the melted butter

Drizzle the melted butter over the flour mixture, covering as much of the surface as possible.

Step 9: Add the sliced butter

Arrange the cut butter over the top, covering any dry spots.

Step 10: Sprinkle on the almonds

Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top of the cake.

Step 11: Bake the cake

Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Step 12: Cool the cake

Cool the cake on a rack for at least 20 minutes.

Step 13: Make the almond whipped cream

While the cake is cooling, pour the heavy whipping cream into a chilled mixing bowl and use a hand mixer or stand mixer with chilled beaters to whip the cream, starting on low speed.

Step 14: Flavor and continue whipping the cream

When the cream is starting to thicken, add the confectioner's sugar and almond extract, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to whip just until soft peaks form.

Step 15: Serve

Top the almond-rhubarb dump cake with whipped cream, then serve.

What is a dump cake, and what are the dish's origins?

A dump cake is just that — a homey, cobbler-like cake made by literally dumping all of the ingredients in a pan and baking. Although the original dump cake's origins are not entirely clear, it was popularized in the 1960s, an era of convenience cooking following post-WWII innovations in the manufacturing of goods and especially packaged foods. The first dump cake to start circulating through the Midwest and Southern states contained canned pineapple, cherry pie filling, a box of yellow cake mix, optional nuts, and a stick of butter (or margarine). The key to the dessert's success was layering those ingredients in that exact order and following the most important rule – not to mix! The cake was then served warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Over time, the classic dump cake evolved to incorporate other flavors of pie filling, cake mix, and toppings, but the formula and outcome remained intact. Dump cake is like a fun science experiment that always turns out unexpectedly well. The magic of butter and dry ingredients melding together while they bake atop a juicy fruit base is genius! That said, using fresh ingredients and a couple of extra steps to create an additive-free, "from scratch" mix takes dump cake into our modern culinary times.

What other flavors work well in a dump cake?

Rhubarb is often mistaken as a fruit, likely due to its use in sweet preparations. This superfood vegetable not only has a wonderful tartness that pairs beautifully with other ingredients, but it's loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Rhubarb does need sweetener when prepared on its own to tame the mouth-puckering flavor, but combining it with naturally sweet fruits lowers the need for excess sugar. Strawberries are a classic pairing with rhubarb, but raspberries or boysenberries also create a harmonious blend of sweet and tangy. For this recipe, try substituting 2 cups of sliced rhubarb with 2 cups of berries. The berries also work well with the cinnamon, ginger, and almond flavors. Apples are another tasting match with rhubarb. Try mixing in 2 cups of peeled and diced apples, such as Granny Smith or Gala, for 2 cups of rhubarb. In homage to the original dump cake recipe, crushed pineapple is an unexpectedly delicious mix in with the rhubarb. The tropical pineapple taste gives a whole new dimension to rhubarb's tang, and the brown sugar combination will bring pineapple upside-down cake to mind!

Almond-Rhubarb "From Scratch" Dump Cake Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
Classic dump cakes were made from boxed cake mixes and pie fillings, but this recipe goes the "from scratch" route with a quick batter and fresh rhubarb.
Prep Time
35
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
12
servings
Almond-rhubarb from scratch dump cake slices on plates with almond whipped cream on table
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb stalks (½-inch pieces)
  • ¾ + 1 cups packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ + ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup finely ground blanched almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large lemon, zested (about 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 slices
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Lightly oil a 13x9-inch or equivalent-sized baking dish.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the rhubarb, ¾ cup brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and vanilla extract.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
  5. In another large bowl, combine the all-purpose and almond flour, baking powder, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well.
  6. Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.
  7. Spread the flour mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the pan.
  8. Drizzle the melted butter over the flour mixture, covering as much of the surface as possible.
  9. Arrange the cut butter over the top, covering any dry spots.
  10. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top of the cake.
  11. Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  12. Cool the cake on a rack for at least 20 minutes.
  13. While the cake is cooling, pour the heavy whipping cream into a chilled mixing bowl and use a hand mixer or stand mixer with chilled beaters to whip the cream, starting on low speed.
  14. When the cream is starting to thicken, add the confectioner's sugar and almond extract, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to whip just until soft peaks form.
  15. Top the almond-rhubarb dump cake with whipped cream, then serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 419
Total Fat 27.1 g
Saturated Fat 14.5 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 63.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 41.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 20.8 g
Sodium 356.3 mg
Protein 5.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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