feasting with friends

Michigan Monday: Sander’s Bumpy Cake {Copy-Cat}

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Michigan, you’re probably familiar with Sander’s. Sander’s was a made in Michigan classic. I say “was”, because Sander’s is no longer an independent company. The brand still exist… just under the ownership of Awrey’s. In fact, most of their products are available in just about every grocery store in our area.


Sander’s line of products is all things sweet and delicious. Cakes, candies… fudge toppings for ice cream. In fact, I posted a recipe for Sander’s Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge last year. In that post, you can read more about the history of Sander’s and about my Hot Fudge Cream Puff obsession!


As for this cake… when purchased, you have your choice of the large (9×13) or small (8×8) cake. Back when Glenn and I first got married (over 30 years ago!), we would purchase the 8×8 cake almost weekly. The cake would be sliced in 4 (very large) servings and we would finish it off in a mere two days! Eek… can’t do that these days! My hips don’t lie like they used to. 😉


Bumpy cake was always the standard dessert at family gatherings over the years for Glenn’s family. We would need at least two of the large ones to feed that crew! As the family grew and bakers blossomed among us, desserts of the homemade variety took its place.

But guess what? Now we can have Homemade Sander’s Bumpy Cake! How great is that?!?!


This cake is very sweet and very rich. The cake itself, is a chocolate delight… very moist. I feel the finished cake looks very much like the Sander’s original. I’m so glad I finally learned how the tunnels of buttercream frosting get under the decadent fudge topping! (Hint… the freezer is involved… all secrets are revealed in the recipe below.)

But… yes, there is a “but”… The taste, if I’m being 100% honest, is sweeter than the original. The cake itself (the baked portion) is pretty spot-on, in my opinion. It’s the fudgy top layer that is somewhat “off”. It’s still a delicious cake… just not 100% Sander’s. It will definitely cure any sweet tooth craving!

I plan on tweaking the recipe a bit and giving it another try. I’ll definitely update the recipe with my successes. At least I have my decades long taste testing to back me up!In the meantime, enjoy this copy-cat version…

Sander's Bumpy Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


For the Cake:
1/2 cup hot black coffee
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour

For Vanilla Butterceam Filling:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar

For Pourable Fudge Frosting:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cocoa
dash salt
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Cake:
Lightly coat a 9×13 cake pan with shortening.  Add 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the pan; shake and tap the pan gently until the shortening is completely coated in cocoa. Dispose of excess cocoa. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large bowl, combine coffee and cocoa; mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add oil, buttermilk and vanilla; mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda, salt and flour. Add flour mixture, half at a time. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Batter will be very bubbly.

Pour batter into the prepared 9×13 inch pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For Sanders’ Vanilla Buttercream Filling:
In a clean mixing bowl, whip egg whites until foamy.  Add the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar slowly, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is stiff. Transfer the meringue to a small bowl.

Combine the butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar in the mixing bowl. Mix on low until combined.

With mixer on low, slowly add the sweetened and condensed milk. Once all of the milk is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

Return mixer speed to low and slowly add the meringue to the butter mixture.

Add the vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

Note:  If a stiffer icing is desired, add an additional ½ cup of powdered sugar.

For Pourable Fudge Frosting:
In a medium size saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine buttermilk, sugar, corn syrup, salt and half the butter.

Bring mixture to a boil.

When mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, remove from heat.

Add remaining butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir well, until no lumps of sugar remain. Set aside and cool until cake assembly.

Note: The frosting may seem thin initially, but it will thicken while cooling.

To Assemble the Cake:
Prepare cake as directed.

When cake is cooled, place cake in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare vanilla buttercream icing. Transfer the icing to a zip top bag. Snip off corner of the bag, and pipe the buttercream in four rows across the cake (From end to end on long side of cake).

Return to the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Apply cooled fudge frosting to top of cake, covering buttercream rows completely.

Return to freezer for several minutes or more to set frosting.

Store cake in refrigerator (or freezer if preferred)… just allow a short warm up period before serving.


Recipe Sources: Serious Eats, Food.com.


    • Hi Indu! Thank you so much. I’m pretty sure Sander’s is more of a regional thing. One bite of this cake and it’s understood why it has such staying power in our area!

  1. I tell ya, Nancy. Coming here is like a trip on the WayBack Machine. Now it’s Sander’s. Gosh how we loved it when Mom took us there for a treat! She made me a recipe book many years ago. In it she mentions buying ingredients from Sander’s and Awrey’s. I smile every time I see their names. I’m pinning this recipe but won’t prepare it unless and until I’ve guests. Like you and your DH, I would go through it far too quickly. Thanks for both the recipe and another trip down Memory Lane. 🙂

    • I’m happy to oblige in sending you down memory lane, John! I too have wonderful memories of sitting at the counter at Sander’s. And yes… this cake is only meant to make when there are others around to share in the calorie feast. 😉

    • It was tasty for sure! Our family considers Bumpy Cake a state treasure. ;). I couldn’t begin to guess how many slices of it I’ve had over the years. Thank you, Judi!

  2. I love the cream hidden under the fudge frosting. Very delicious cake and frosting, but the recipe for the cream is very interesting. I sure would like to give this scrumptious bumpy cake (cute name) a try! 🙂

  3. Wow Nancy thats really a decadent and delicious cake. I am intrigued by the buttercream recipe. I’ve never seen one quite like it before and it looks perfectly creamy and I can imagine how good it is. Love the pourable fudge on top. Really yum.

    • Thank you, Suzanne. I’ve made buttercream with meringue before (strawberry that I posted long ago), but the sweetened condensed milk was new to me. The meringue definitely makes the buttercream airier (is that a word, lol). It’s definitely a decadent dessert… One doesn’t require a large slice to be satisfied!

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