Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our November 2020 cover story, “Taste and see.”

Basic dump cake

By Kris Luber

When I became a youth director, I looked forward to lock-ins, Bible studies, youth gatherings, weekend retreats, field trips and service projects—all the traditional activities designed to teach young people the faith. I never thought about having to teach teenagers to cook.

But an integral part of youth work is fundraising to support our own activities and to give to ministries we are passionate about. Hosting church dinners is a great way to make money. Lutherans love to eat, and they are generous in freewill offerings for a meal when they don’t have to bring any potluck.

Our biggest fundraiser was “Novemberfest”–so named because, the first year it was proposed, we didn’t come up with the idea in time to hold this fundraising dinner in October (a too-busy month anyway what with Halloween, Reformation Day and confirmation all happening at the same time).

On the menu were bratwurst with sauerkraut and German potato salad. With no German restaurant for over 100 miles, these were “foreign” foods to many people – especially the teens in the youth group. I, being of German descent, was happy with this event and eager to help the youth prepare the food–none of which was all that complicated. The teens enjoyed the camaraderie of kitchen work, and they learned to slice and dice, read recipes and measure accurately as they worked together.

My personal additions to the menu were the scrumptious desserts. We made two: Schwartzwalder Torte and Apfelkuchen. The first was rich with cherries and fudgy cake, the other with soft apple filling and a crunchy granola topping. Both were well-received by our diners.

OK, I admit it–both were dump cake. But there’s no reason why simple, no-fail desserts cannot be delicious. A favorite memory is when one of the youth–who evidently had an aversion to raisins–meticulously picked every one of them out of the granola before he would dump it in the pan.

2 cans fruit pie filling
1 package cake mix
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter or margarine


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the pie filling into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
  3. Dump the cake mix over the fruit. Then slice the butter sticks into thin pieces over the top.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Note: For the Schwartzwalder Torte, we used cherry pie filling and chocolate cake mix. For the Apfelkuchen we used apple pie filling and yellow cake mix topped with granola.

Find more reader recipes by clicking the “recipes” tag below.

Read more about: