Canned Fruit Cocktail Is The Star Of Dolly Parton's 3-Ingredient Cake

Dolly Parton on stage
Dolly Parton on stage - Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Dolly Parton is a Grammy-winning musician, actor, and author, and even has her own theme park. We've come to trust her with so many works of art — and that includes the culinary.

The list of what Parton eats includes classics like clams casino and chicken and dumplings, and in her cookbooks and beyond she has shared recipes for everything from soup to pecan chicken salad. But one of her signature dishes calls for no more than three ingredients. Featured in her 2006 book, "Dolly's Dixie Fixin's," this cake actually has its cultural origins back in the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias." In the movie, Parton's character Truvy explains her "Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa" cake — just three ingredients, one cup of each.

While two of the ingredients — sugar and flour — are pantry mainstays, the last might surprise home cooks who favor fresh or even frozen fruit when it comes to baking projects. That element is fruit cocktail, and without it, you'd have no real flavor — not to mention any way to bind these ingredients together into a batter. That makes this sweetened canned produce the scene-stealing star when whipping up this cake.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

How Canned Fruit Cocktail Factors In

Canned apricots in juice
Canned apricots in juice - Merrimon/Getty Images

At its essence, canned fruit cocktail is simply a type of preserved fruit, and there are a number of varieties out there. When selecting from the best canned fruit cocktails on the market, be sure to check the ingredient lists though. It's common to find variations packed in syrup, and the sweet ingredient that differentiates light and heavy syrup in canned fruit is corn syrup — which would impact your Dolly Parton cake experiment (resulting in a stickier, sweeter, and chewier iteration). Other versions of fruit cocktail actually pack in just plain old water, but in the film, Parton's character is emphatic that when baking this cake, you use fruit cocktail "with the juice."

This is critical for contributing moisture to the recipe — and it acts as a binding agent — however it's important to be cautious not to over-do it. Not all cans are created equal and some will have more juice than others, meaning your "cuppa" could have varying ratios of fruit to liquid depending on the brand. It's best to add a little at a time, prioritizing the fruit first if that's your preference, in order to prevent a runny batter — you want it to be on the thicker side so the cake has substance.

Customizing Your Fruity Cake

Fruity cake with powdered sugar
Fruity cake with powdered sugar - Handmadepictures/Getty Images

There are competing opinions about the efficacy of this recipe, with some reporting that while pleasant, a revised moniker may be in order. The absence of leavener makes for a more compact, cobbler-like creation that doesn't boast the airy quality of a traditional cake. Other bakers can't get past what they consider to be an off-putting result that's too dense, but suggest there may be ways to modify for a more palatable outcome. One idea is to swap the flour for a self-rising version, which would contribute leavening power (without adding to the three ingredients) and also comes with a dose of balancing salt, for which the original recipe doesn't call.

If you simply want to customize from a flavor perspective, you have some options too, starting with your fruit selection. Some cocktail cans even come with a fruit combo. You can add spices or extracts that bring flavor without changing the composition if you want to preserve Parton's vision. To serve, Truvy suggests pairing with ice cream to "cut the sweetness," so you can whip up your own French vanilla to go along with it. If you're still not sold, the real Dolly Parton has lent her name to a line of cake mixes coming from a reliable source: Duncan Hines. But there's no denying that, regardless of its cinematic origins, this cake has the potential to be a show stopper.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.