While I thoroughly enjoy baking up just about any treat, my very favorite desserts to make are those with a secret ingredient. Whether it’s Coca-Cola in brownies or cream cheese for super soft chocolate chip cookies, I am up for trying pretty much anything.
So, when I stumbled upon a recipe for apple pumpkin cake with a surprise ingredient, I was all in. The secret ingredient in this cake is a doozy, friends, and probably one you’ve never thought about putting in dessert — baked beans!
Bush’s Apple Pumpkin Cake calls for a can of Bush’s baked beans, pureed and then mixed with cake mix, eggs, applesauce and pumpkin. While beans in a cake may not sound appetizing, keep in mind that because they are pureed, you will not get any actual beans when you take a bite.
I made it, and the cake does not taste like beans. Instead, it tastes mostly like a standard spice cake, and my husband I both agreed it almost had a gingerbread flavor to it that would make it a perfect quick dessert for both fall and winter. Because it doesn’t taste like beans, the only flavor you really pick up from using them is a smokey brown sugar taste, which for me made it better than just making the spice cake based on the boxed directions.
Once cooled, I frosted it with cream cheese icing, though you could use any flavor icing.
Would I make this again? Definitely! It was beyond easy and quite a light dessert, even though I expected it to be a heavy cake because of the beans. If you like spice cake, you’ll likely enjoy the cake, even if you’re not a fan of beans.
One important side note: While the recipe calls for Bush’s Country Style Baked Beans, I instead used the brand’s Brown Sugar Hickory Beans, as the country-style is made with bacon and I am a vegetarian. If you use the country-style beans, your cake may also have a bit of a bacon flavor — though you do remove the bacon from the beans before pureeing them.
Check out the full recipe below:
Bush’s Apple Pumpkin Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1 16-ounce can Bush’s Country Style Baked Beans
- 1 16.25-ounce package spice cake mix
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup classic applesauce
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- Remove the bacon from the can of baked beans. Pour the can of beans and sauce into a blender and puree.
- Combine the cake mix, use ¾ cup of the pureed beans (discard small amount of remaining puree) and 3 eggs in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Add the applesauce and pumpkin and mix until all ingredients are combined.
- Spoon batter into a sprayed 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan. Or, use cupcake pans with paper liners. Fill 2/3 full, then bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
- Top with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.
Do you have a favorite recipe that uses a surprising ingredient?