Cook’s Corner: Pumpkin Pecan Dump Cake brings smiles


The satisfied smiles makes Kathy Sweeney feel good when she makes her Pumpkin Pecan Dump Cake.

“What really makes me feel good is, I’ll be standing there and someone will walk by and they will go ‘Mmmmmmm…’ That’s what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear someone say that this is good. You know, yummy. So this has become a big hit,” Sweeney said. “For me, that’s fun.”

Her favorite part of the recipe is that it is easy to make and it’s all easy things to have in the cupboard.

“You can just throw it together in no time and pop it in the oven,” Sweeney said.

Cooking is something that Sweeney started only eight years ago, a couple of years into her retirement. The hobby started with cookies. He most popular is a lemon thyme cookie, which recently won second place in a contest at the Wood County District Public Library.

Her baking then expanded as she took on a new and eager outlet for her goodies. After moving to Bowling Green two and a half years ago she started attending First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, on the urging of her sister, Nancy Hess.

Sweeney grew up in Gibsonburg, but moved from Fremont after her husband, Bob, passed. They were married for 33 years. Having her sister in town was a big deciding factor for her move.

Their other sister, Diane, still lives in Gibsonburg. Sweeney has a daughter, Cori, and a son, Sean.

She moved here in the midst of the pandemic shutdown, so she didn’t make her way to working in the kitchen until church returned to being done in-person. She started helping with coffee hour, after the Sunday services. She received a lot of that positive feedback from those lemon thyme cookies. The encouragement spurred her on to become more adventurous in her cooking.

“Bob had a sweet tooth. He would have loved this recipe,” Sweeney said.

The Pumpkin Pecan Dump Cake is a recipe she has been working on for only the last year. She found it online, a source of a lot of her inspiration, and has made minor tweaks, mostly in the baking.

“I also have several cookbooks. I’m always searching for something new to make,” Sweeney said.

She laughs, because the recipe immediately began with a mishap, calling it some real trial and error.

“It is funny. It really is funny. I misread the recipe. I thought is called for two tablespoons of melted butter, instead of two sticks of butter. That’s a lot of difference. When I dripped it on top I thought that it didn’t look like much. When it came out of the oven, the cake mix was just a powder!” Sweeney said laughing. “I ended up throwing it all out.”

She had a similar mistake with her lemon thyme cookies.

“It’s really frustrating, when you’ve done all those pecans and brown sugar and butter, and then throw it away,” Sweeney said.

She is very sure of herself in noting that the dump cake does not work without two sticks of butter.

“I can attest to that. It really needs two sticks of butter. It is rich,” she said.

Pumpkin Pecan Dump Cake


15 ounces solid pack pumpkin

12 ounces evaporated milk

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 box 15.25 ounce butter pecan cake mix

1 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar


Kathy Sweeney calls this a dump cake, because it’s put in the cooking pan in layers.

Whisk together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and pour into a 9-inch by 12-inch pan. She prefers Pyrex. Evenly sprinkle the cake mix on top, but do not mix in. Drizzle the melted butter over the cake mix. Next, evenly sprinkle the pecans. The final layer is the brown sugar.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Check with toothpick for doness. If needed cover with foil and bake for 15 more minutes.

Let it cool for at least an hour on a cooling rack, so air can circulate underneath the pan. It is ready to serve, and very tasty while warm. However, Sweeney recommends letting it cool for several more hours in the fridge, where it will firm up.

(This recipe had several corrections, which were posted here on Dec. 30.)

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