Dorothy’s Dump Cake
Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. And last night the girls made her dump cake. I had a spoonful of it this morning with my coffee. Because I could. And because she would have done the same thing if she were sitting in my kitchen.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. She was the matriarch of matriarchs and stories of her are family legends, likely to be embellished as the years pass on. She dressed me up and gave me my first memory of being “out on the town,” a dinner out where I tried very hard to keep my elbows off the table and then a drive across town to see the Nutcracker, beginning a holiday tradition that I keep with my mom and the girls today. A few years later she unapologetically sat me down on a stool in her kitchen, cracked open a Dr. Pepper, put a silver beautician’s cape around my neck, and permed my straight brown hair. She had an adventurous, if not a ornery and vivacious spirit that was contagious.
As fun-loving as she was, she was practical too. She taught me how to sew using her trusty Singer and hand needles, making use of scraps of material from one of her many ongoing projects. She taught me how to make soup in a gargantuan pot almost too big for the stove, using up just about everything in the refrigerator so nothing was wasted. In some small way, honoring her mother, my Maggie’s namesake, passing on skills she undoubtedly acquired from Grandma Maggie as a child during the depression.
She was frugal and free-spirited, knowing when to hold reserves and when to cash in chips and live a little. While my grandfather was still alive, they golfed and traveled and had dinner parties. And after he passed, she continued on in her ways, just as he would have wanted her to. She had a social life that always put mine to shame, playing bridge, golfing, and getting together with friends constantly. She was always in the middle of a good book, loved a good juicy mini-series, and would yell at the TV during football games. She was the life of the party when she wanted to be. She was also content playing a card game (or several) with us over a bowl of popcorn and her favorite iced tea. She took our quarters when we played for money and she would never let us win a tight game of gin if we did not beat her on our own. She did not like to lose; and rematches, called by her when she did lose, most often went her way. She had the nickname of “Mrs. Big,” and while I don’t know how she got it, it most certainly fit her large personality. She did not know a stranger, would give anyone the shirt off her back, and had no problem letting you know her opinion of something – even if you did not ask. She was a strong lady, proud of her Irish heritage and tolerant of the German she adopted through marriage. She was faithful and devout, kind and loyal, stubborn and gracious. Traits I see each and every day carried on in my girls and I am reminded that it was a privilege to be her granddaughter.
Dotty was always on the hunt for a new recipe to make for her bridge friends and this dump cake is one I remember her making all the time. She wrote it down on a recipe card that is now one of my favorite keepsakes. It makes me smile every time I thumb through it in my recipe box and if I stare at the writing long enough, I can almost see her sitting across the table penning it. It couldn’t be easier to make and the girls love to make it by themselves – another testament to the independent spirit she has passed on through generations. The boys just like to eat it. Warmed up with vanilla ice cream. And they like to make fun of the fact that it’s called dump cake. I wish she could be here to put the boys and their rude comments in their place, to watch the girls handling her recipe card and baking her cake, and to sit with me at the table playing cards and drinking iced tea, one last time.
Dorothy’s Dump Cake
1-20 oz can cherry, blueberry, or apple pie filling
1-20 oz can crushed pineapple
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup coconut (optional)
2 sticks melted butter
1. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
2. Gently dump pie filling and pineapple into pan and mix together.
Dump Sprinkle cake mix on top of fruit mixture.
Dump Top with nuts and coconut.
Dump Drizzle with melted butter.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Or eat straight out of the pan with a fork with your morning coffee … Dorothy would have.