What do you serve for dessert at a Seven Deadly Sins-themed dinner party when you’re in charge of Gluttony? Cherpumple, of course – Charles Phoenix’s creation involving three layers of cake with pies baked right inside. It comes across as a dessert not for the faint of heart, but in reality was more interesting than it was over-the top; like cake with fruit filling, the pastry wound up blending in with the baked cake. I knocked it down to two layers, thinking that three might wind up Leaning Tower of Pisa-ish, and frosted the third for the kids’ table. They thought it was as cool as the grown-ups did.
The name – Cherpumple – is meant to convey the three types of pie Charles used in his original – CHERry, PUMPkin and apPLE. When we went to the grocery store to buy three small pre-made pies – the ones I make from scratch would be too big to bake inside a cake pan with batter – the pumpkin pies were larger, but there was a matching set of cherry, apple and blueberry, so I went with those. (And then used only two, so I suppose it should rightly be called a Cherple.) To demonstrate what came next, no one does it better than Charles himself. He’s hilarious. (Watch, then I’ll give you more specific instructions below.)
Charles used cake mix but I used my standard white cake recipe, which went well with all three types of pie. I mixed up two batches of batter, as one was just enough for two pies (I thought the pies would displace enough of the batter to allow it to stretch
further, but they didn’t). If I were to do this again, I’d stick to two layers, rather than go for three – with the pie filling in the middle they aren’t as structurally sound as regular baked cake layers.
So here’s what you do: spread some batter into the bottom of the pan and flip in one of the baked pies – I tried putting them in upside-down and right-side up, and upside-down seemed to bake through more evenly. Spread some more batter over the top of the pie in the pan, not worrying too much about filling up the space on the sides. Then make sure the cakes have cooled completely before attempting to flip them out of the pan, which actually isn’t difficult at all as long as they’re no longer warm.
And so I give you Cherple, the short-stack version of Charles Phoenix’s Cherpumple, made with apple and cherry pies and a white cake from scratch, with his recommended cream cheese frosting. (Frost with any buttercream instead, if you like.)
Cherple (a Two-Tiered Cherpumple) Pie-Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
2 small pies, one cherry and one apple (or any other flavors you like)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9″ round cake pans with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it.
Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.
Spread about a quarter of the batter into each of the greased cake pans and invert a baked pie into each, removing its pie plate. Spread the remaining batter over the tops (now bottoms) of the pies, covering them as completely as you can.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden, the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the tops are springy to the touch. Let them cool completely before running a knife around the edge of the pans and inverting them onto a wire rack. Cool completely before you frost them. Makes 2 9″ cakes (with pies inside).
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
half an 8 oz. (250 g) pkg. regular or light cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla, beating until the mixture is creamy and well-blended. Add a little more sugar or milk if necessary to achieve a spreadable frosting. Frost the cakes once completely cooled. Makes enough for one two-layer cake.