Spiced Cranberry Pear Dump Cake

Is there anything in the world that says, “autumn” more than biting into a delicious dessert? Warm homey spices, with a mix of gooey fruits and flaky crust, and a giant heaping mound of whipped cream?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

When I host or contribute to pitch-ins or holiday get-togethers, sometimes I try to really go overboard with a fancy, time consuming dessert. Sure, a stack of intricately decorated gingerbread cookies is fun to look at, but fancy or not all desserts end up the same place (as long as they taste good). And finding the time to make dozens of shortbread jam thumbprints (another staple of mine)? Not with a toddler running around! So this year I have revisited an old classic: dump cake.

Despite the lack of super refined sounding name dump cakes are always a hit. I mean, they’re delicious, what’s not to love? The first time my mom made dump cake, I couldn’t figure out why you’d name a cake after a garbage dump. I was probably five and well into grade school, I’d still call it “trash cake” or “garbage cake” because that’s the name that stuck. So to any parents of my grade school friends: I apologize if your kids came home saying I brought garbage cake to school. 😂

One of my favorite things about dump cake – and a thing I didn’t really start playing around with until more recently – is that they’re so versatile. There’s a seemingly endless combination of flavors you could create. Some people switch out the yellow cake mix for other varieties; some folks swap out the classic cherry and pineapple combo. You can make it in a crockpot or the oven. You can top it with whipped cream, ice cream, or NOTHING (though come on, folks, naked dump cake is just cruel).

With Thanksgiving coming up I wanted to figure out how to do a dump cake with pear and cranberry. Spiced pear is one of those flavors that has stuck in my mind as the classic comfort baked good. It’s versatile and pairs well (no pun intended) with a variety of spices and other fruits. It stands well alone and is an unsung hero of holiday baking. For this recipe I was actually made three different versions of this dump cake, swapping out different elements between each. I’ll give you the recipe for my family’s favorite version and then some info on the other ones.


Print Recipe
Spiced Cranberry Pear Dump Cake
Course Dessert
9x13 pan
Course Dessert
9x13 pan
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 13"x 9" pan.
  2. Combine pears (juice included) and apple pie filling. As desired, slice the pears and apple slices smaller. Add the cranberries.
  3. Sprinkle liberally with spice mix and ginger, stir.
  4. Dump (GET IT?!) yellow cake mix on top and smooth over the pan. Do not mix in.
  5. Slice butter into thin squares, and lay on top of the cake mix.
  6. Bake for 50m or until top is lightly browned. (It's amazing warm and topped with homemade spiced whipped cream or icecream. But, pro tip, it's still delicious right out of the fridge the next day!)
Alternative Versions
  1. Use a boxed spice cake mix instead of yellow cake.
  2. Omit the cranberries and use only Pear and Apple (my husband's favorite version).
  3. Use cranberry mix and two large cans of mandarin oranges (use only the juice from one can).
  4. Top any of the versions with Pecans or Walnuts.
  5. These can all be cooked in the crockpot by layering the same way, but cooked on high for two hours. Still tastes great, but - in my opinion - misses a lot of the delicious crunchy top that you get when you cook it in the oven.
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If you enjoyed this, and need MORE ideas for Thanksgiving, some of my favorite bloggers have contributed to a “Thanksgiving Blogluck,” so check out all the yummies!

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