Baking Your Own Cherpumple (or PiCake)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL

I wish I’d thought to post this before Thanksgiving, as it seems a lot of folks took the annual American day of unrestrained gluttony as justification for baking their own cherpumple.  While I did not make a full cherpumple for Thanksgiving, I did make two PiCakes (term coined by my husband for the individual cherpumple-like layers). One was the pumpkin pie/spice cake layer, (we’ve nicknamed Spumpkin) and the other was the pecan pie/chocolate cake layer which we’ve nicknamed ChocoCan (pronounced like Chaka Khan).

I’ve previously baked two full cherpumples and 2 PiCakes, starting back in August. I had already forgotten the process I developed through trial and error, so am documenting them here for myself and anyone else that wants to give them a try. I considered taking pictures and posting them also, but I just don’t think they’re necessary as I’ve embedded creator Charles Phoenix’s video instructions at the bottom of this post. It’s the guidance I used to bake mine and while it’s fairly general, it take the mystery out of the process in a humorous way.

Ingredients for full traditional cherpumple recipe:

  • 3 frozen pies – apple, cherry and pumpkin;
  • 3 cake mixes – yellow, white and spice;
  • Ingredients specified on cake mix boxes (you will be following the box directions for the cake batter);
  • Canned frosting – cream cheese (see recommendations below).

My recommendations:

  • 10″ cake pan works perfectly, I prefer the Wilton aluminum pan.
  • Substitution of vanilla for cream cheese frosting, based on the stickiness and unforgiving texture. It may be different with other brands, but the stuff I had resulted in a really rough looking finished product. Swapping the vanilla gave a much nicer-looking cake. The flavor change didn’t matter to me since I don’t eat the frosting, I dive into the layers.
  • Whipped cream for the Spumpkin (Spice cake/pumpkin pie) PiCake. It’s heavenly, but then that’s my favorite topping for both pumpkin pie and spice cake, separately.

Ingredients for PiCake layers are essentially the same as above, except you choose the flavor combinations you want to try. For instance, the ChocoCan PiCake is chocolate cake mix with pecan pie and chocolate frosting.

I’m embedding the slideshow of photos of the cherpumples and PiCakes I’ve baked. If you’ll notice, the first cherpumple (better seen in the video at the end of my slideshow) is not nearly as attractive as the second one. This is for two reasons: One I was short on time so used an 8, 9 and 10 inch pans to bake all at once and ended up with a layered effect. I also used the cream cheese frosting which was unforgiving and nearly transparent. The second and subsequent cakes have been MUCH more attractive.

Here are the steps I take to ensure the best possible end result:

  • Bake or thaw the pies. They will not thaw inside the cake if you don’t, and your cake batter will not cook if you have a cold or frozen pie inside. Raw cake batter is not the goal here since you need the cake structure to support the ooey-gooey pie.
  • Bring the pies to room temperature before starting. You don’t want them hot since you’ll be using your hands to drop them into the cake. I disliked even using slightly warm pie because the whole thing is much more fragile.
  • Set oven temperature to 325 regardless of cake box instructions. Anything higher and you risk undercooked batter or burned cake in trying to get the batter fully baked.
  • Now is the time for putting a sheet of aluminum on the bottom of the oven to catch any overflow. It can happen.
  • Use a 10″ cake pan. It’s the perfect size for the pie, even if one of larger than average. It also allows for all the cake batter to be used.
  • Spray generously with cooking spray.
  • Cut a parchment circle for the cake pan interior bottom. The ease in removing the cake is COMPLETELY worth the effort of this step. Yes, it’s easier to line with aluminum, but my results were tremendously better with the parchment.
  • Spray again with cooking spray. Yes, it’s overkill. You’re welcome.
  • Mix the cake batter according to package directions.
  • Carefully break off the crust around the edge of the pie, but don’t break the top or bottom crust! This step is optional, but preferred. It makes it easier to cover the pie with batter and I just like it better taste-wise.
  • Pour most into the bottom of the pan, reserving about a third for covering the pie after you drop it in.
  • Drop pie and smooth remaining batter of the top, making sure to “seal” the pie in batter.
  • It will obviously take longer to bake than a regular cake. I recommend setting the timer for 45 minutes and doing the standard toothpick test. It’s a bit tricky since you don’t want to go into the pie and distort the results. It usually takes about an hour for it to bake in my oven. Expect it to take even longer if you have more than one layer baking in the oven. The first cherpumple I made, I had all three in there and I do not recommend doing this.
  • I recommend running a knife along the inside of the pan after it comes out of the oven. If there is any cake batter overhanging the cake pan edge at all, you’ll have an easier time when it first comes out than after it cools and hardens.
  • Wait 20 minutes before removing from pan instead of 10. The cake is a bit more fragile with the essentially liquid core.
  • As always, allow cake to fully cool before frosting.

Cherpumples I Have Made


Charles Phoenix Video Instructions

2 Responses to “Baking Your Own Cherpumple (or PiCake)”

  1. Zach Says:

    Seeing that video with you, and Mark, and Paul, and Cmar and everyone just makes me absolutely sick that none of you live in Texas.
    I miss my podcasting family!

  2. Viv Says:

    I miss you, too! Keeping my fingers crossed to see you at Balticon!

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