Charles Phoenix is a "Histo-tainer" whose specialty is vintage slide shows, but he is also known for his retro-inspired culinary creations. Sometimes they are straight out his slides, like the Astro Weenie Christmas Tree, and sometimes they are straight out of his brilliantly twisted mind, like the Inchezonya, "Tiki Turkey Thanksgiving Feast" and the "Cherpumple".
Last year, the Wall Street Journal ran this article about the Cherpumple, which is the dessert version of the Turducken (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey). Charles was inspired by watching his relatives load up their plate with their favorite pies at Thanksgiving, and decided to make a cake with a cherry, pumpkin, and apple pie in each of its three layers.
Is it genius, or the embodiment of the second of the seven deadlies? It sounds delicious, but also ambitious, so I decided to interpret it with the Dollar Store edition.
I got lucky, and found Banquet individual pies in the freezer section of the 99 Cent Only Store. I picked up Apple, Peach, and one damaged Cherry/Mixed Berry. This changed my "Cherpumple" into a "Cher-Pea-Ple", but I forged ahead.
I found 7" foil pans at the Dollar Tree, which were the perfect size for my smaller pies. To simplify and economize further, I used one package of Yellow cake mix for all layers (Charles uses spice mix for the apple layer, white for the cherry, and yellow for the pumpkin).
I upped Charles in the frosting department, and went with the classic homemade cream cheese powdered sugar topping. I could easily change the texture, and I figured no matter how sketchy things got (and they did), I could rely on this frosting to hold it all together.
The first step is to bake the pies, and I opted for the oven. These little pies are just like Banquet's pot pies, except they are fruit -- which means crust and filling uniformity is not their strong suit -- they are a mess to be honest. But once I started, I couldn't stop until I had completed my mission, so I worked with I had. I poured some of the yellow cake batter in the pans (sprayed with Pam -- the Dollar Store version of course) then plopped the pie stuff in the center. More batter in the pans, and in the oven they went.
I baked the layers until golden brown and let them cool. I was lucky that the tin pans tore away easily and I was able to place the layers without complete disaster. The frosting saved me, and I actually began to have some fun decorating my cake. I shoved the thing in the fridge for the night, and today I'm happy to say that it held its form when I cut into it.
So maybe you can't really identify the fruit filling as pies, but the taste made up for any shortcoming, and I am actually proud of my Cherpeaple.
As an encore, I am plotting a cherry fried pie baked in a chocolate cake, topped with chocolate covered cherries . . . stay tuned!
P.S. The Dollar Store version feeds 4-6, and costs about $6 for the whole pie cake.