Chocolate Dump-It Cake

June 14, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: My mother has many specialties, but her Chocolate Dump-It Cake is most beloved in my family. She kept this cake in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold. I wrote about this cake in my second book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, but wanted to celebrate it here on food52, as well.Amanda Hesser

Serves: 10
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 1 hrs


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.)
  3. When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool completely, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky – if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.)
  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good.
  5. Cut the cake into two layers. Lay the top layer, top-side-down onto a cake plate (or whatever serving platter you like). Spread with icing. Top with the bottom layer, setting the bottom-side-up. This will give you a straighter edge (see photo of finished cake). Ice the top, sides, and center. (If you like a lot of icing, use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.

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Reviews (192) Questions (14)

192 Reviews

Martin September 18, 2018
Is it supposed to be so moist? Only the outer layer was crumbly, while the inside was quite moist, to the point where it was pancake-like on most of the inside. I feel I could be doing something wrong... I used a 9 inch springform, maybe the heat should be higher?
Author Comment
Amanda H. September 18, 2018
Hi Martin, it is an extremely moist cake but if it was like a pancake, it sounds like it could have used another 5 minutes of baking. My mother often made it at night and let it cool overnight so the outside would be a little dried/crisp -- which made icing it easier too!
Martin September 19, 2018
Hi Amanda. Thank you for your quick reply! Sounds like a good idea to wait overnight; I grew impatient and might have put the icing on too early. I absolutely loved the icing though, it was so good!
Author Comment
Amanda H. September 20, 2018
Glad you liked the icing!
mike24531 August 21, 2018
Can the recipe be cut in half and baked in a smaller pan? I really want to try it, but I only have a half-sized (six cup) tube pan. Would that work or does it need a large tube pan? Thanks!
Author Comment
Amanda H. August 21, 2018
I don’t see why not — it’s a forgiving recipe. You’ll need to shorten the baking time a little. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
tamater S. August 22, 2018
Or do you have a loaf pan or muffin tin?
Maya February 14, 2018
Does it matter what it is called? I call it DELICIOUS :) This cake is my go to for anything with a chocolate base, I've used it for both cakes and cupcakes, without changing the recipe. I made a black forest cake last month with this cake and my own cherry filling, turned out great.
Sarah B. February 12, 2018
I would not call this a dump cake. A dump cake means putting it all together in one go and using one pan. That's why I clicked on this recipe - to see a real dump cake recipe. It looks like a great recipe, but it is not a dump cake.
Sarah B. February 12, 2018
I would not call this a dump cake. A dump cake means putting it all together in one go and using one pan. That's why I clicked on this recipe - to see a real dump cake recipe. It looks like a great recipe, but it is not a dump cake.
NRS February 10, 2018
But it tasted fabulous! (I leveled the tops.)
tamater S. February 10, 2018
Attaboy! And you did eat the pieces you cut off, right? ;-)
NRS February 10, 2018
They did not go to waste!
NRS February 10, 2018
So I just made the cake in two 9” round cake pans and I baked at 350 degrees. When I took them out, one was slightly sunken in the middle and the other was more so. (I usually don’t get sunken middles on my layer cakes.) Perhaps I overmixed the flour, but could it be that the 3 tsp of leavening is too much for two layers? Or maybe I should have done 375 degrees? Though seems some say too low oven temp can cause sinking while others say too high oven temp. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Author Comment
Amanda H. February 11, 2018
Not sure why this happened -- I know it works for my sister, who always makes it this way. Maybe try 375 degrees next time. Glad the scraps didn't go to waste! :)
NRS February 11, 2018
Thanks Amanda!
Barbara K. February 7, 2018
NRS, yes, I would reduce the oven temp. Hope you will post the result
NRS February 6, 2018
Can't wait to finally try this cake! I plan on using two 9" round cake pans. Given that, should I reduce the oven temp to 350 instead of 375? Thanks!
cecica June 23, 2017
Has anyone used this frosting in a layered cake?
Peony June 24, 2017
Yes, I have.
Peony March 11, 2017
I love this cake and have been making it since 2003 when my sister gave me Amanda's book as a combination birthday/wedding present. I always get compliments and requests for the recipe. I love the tang that the sour cream gives the frosting.
Author Comment
Amanda H. March 11, 2017
I'm so delighted to hear it's been part of your life for so long! I still make it a few times a year.
cld December 22, 2016
Wondering if I can substitute bittersweet chocolate for unsweetened and use less of the sugar?
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 22, 2016
It's worth a try!
janki July 24, 2016
Hi Amanda (and everyone), can I make the icing with a mixture of sour cream and milk chocolate chips? Making this cake for my son's 3rd birthday and I thought the milk chocolate frosting might make it slightly more kid friendly. Has anyone tried this? Thanks for your help.
Author Comment
Amanda H. July 25, 2016
Haven't tried it but I don't see any reason it shouldn't work. I say go for it!
Windischgirl July 13, 2016
Wanted to let you know that the latest incarnation of this cake received multiple compliments from my co-workers (in fact, one said, "I really don't care for chocolate, but I couldn't stop eating this cake. Do you share recipes?" I'm printing it out right now!). I think the Daisy sour cream made for a perfect frosting.<br />I only made two changes to the recipe. First, I grease my angel-food tin and dust it with cocoa powder: makes for a nice finish (no white spots) and cuts the sweetness just a hint. Second, I add 1-2 packets of instant coffee to the water when melting the chocolate. It adds just a little depth of flavor that most people wouldn't identify as coffee. Wonder if the cake was originally made with that last leftover cup of strong coffee, in the days when nothing went to waste.<br />Anyway, Amanda, we have a winner!
Author Comment
Amanda H. July 13, 2016
Love your tips -- thanks for sharing!
tamater S. June 13, 2016
Just made it in a bundt pan with the clip on/clip off outside. That was the best pan. I used whey, since I was draining sour cream for another use, (so not vegan) and added instant coffee. Very good!
MaineMom June 12, 2016
Just made it in two 9x2 inch pans, lined with parchment. It worked well. I followed the suggestion to use coffee in place of water, which added to the flavor.
Judy February 7, 2016
I had wanted to make this cake for awhile, and recently suggested it to a colleague to try. She is an experienced baker, but had a bad result. She challenged me to make it, and I did with a very good result. I think you must mix the milk and vinegar to let it sit and form solids. I also think if the pan recommendation was changed to 10 inch, there would be fewer overflow problems,and I will try next time.
Dee G. January 20, 2016
Made this cake for my husband's birthday. Some of the comments had me thinking this might be risky but I was really curious. So glad I went for it! Such a rich, moist cake. The batter had me a little nervous at first. It was pretty loose but it came together beautifully in the oven. No adjustment was needed for a 5280 altitude. Rather than icing the cake, I sifted powdered sugar over it. Lovely!
lovefood October 25, 2015
I got recipe from this website,
lovefood October 25, 2015
but i try this one recipe, should i add something else in this recipe, please look the recipe and tell me. than i will make perfect cake.<br /><br /><br />Chocolate Truffle Cake<br />Ingredients<br /><br />2 c heavy cream<br />2 lbs. high quality bittersweet chocolate, small pieces<br />1/4 bourbon or other liquor<br />Optional whipped cream for topping<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br />Heat the cream in a double boiler until warm to the touch. Add chocolate and stir constantly until smooth and melted. Refrigerate the ganache until it sets. Remove 3/4 of the ganache to a strong mixer. With the paddle attachment, slowly beat the mixture while adding the bourbon. As the mixture whips, it begins to soften. Stop often and scrape. As the mixture softens, increase the speed to medium. The mixture will lighten, then begin to thicken again. Stop at this point to avoid a grainy texture. Press the mixture into a film lined 9" cake pan and remove any air at the corners. Refrigerate about an hour. Invert the cake onto a serving dish, rewarm (don't get it hot, it will melt the cake) the remaining ganache and drip it over the cake. Refrigerate again for service.