Pouding Chômeur

Sticky Maple Pudding-Cake

December 5, 2019

Rich, sticky, sweet and gooey, it’s really like an upside-down cake, minus the fruit. Simple vanilla cake batter baked in a pool of maple syrup caramel , Pouding chômeur literally translates  as “pudding of the unemployed.”  First created by factory workers during the Great Depression using a handful of ingredients, it was for decades the sort of home-food fare that Québécois kept to themselves. Like Johnny Marzetti, the Cleveland area noodles-and-sauce hotdish that moms customarily put on tables, but most restaurants eschewed, this sticky maple pudding quietly endured out of the spotlight. More recently, as chefs reached into their favorite home-foods archives, both gussied-up and deconstructed versions of the dish started appearing on restaurant tables. Martin Picard at Au Pied de Cochon, even did one.

This version is a homey rendition.  Updated from the earliest recipes which included brown sugar and milk, the caramel is made with maple syrup and cream. You can bake it in a casserole dish and serve it up like spoonbread, or, do as I do and bake it in cast iron skillets, which creates fantastic caramelized crunchy bits around the edge of the cake. I hold back some of the caramel to serve with the finished cake in a pitcher. Serve with scoops of vanilla or pecan ice cream,  some toasted nuts for crunch, and the hot syrup laced over all. You’ll be in heaven.


Sticky Maple Pudding-Cake
Rich, sticky, sweet and gooey, the classic Québécois "pouding chômeur" is like an upside-down cake, minus the fruit.
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  1. Cake batter
  2. ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste (or substitute extract)
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 Tbsp baking powder
  8. 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  9. Maple sauce
  10. 1/3 cup butter
  11. 1 cup maple syrup
  12. 1 cup brown sugar
  13. 1 cup cream
  14. 1 teaspoon salt
  15. Vanilla or pecan ice cream
  16. Toasted pecans, chopped for garnish
  1. For the batter: Butter a medium-sized deep casserole, baking dish, or cast-iron skillet.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, whisking to incorporate. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to the egg/butter mixture—alternating with the milk, scraping sides of the bowl and whisking just until incorporated and no streaks remain. Spoon batter into the prepared baking dish or skillet. Set aside. Place oven rack in center location. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. For the caramel syrup: In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, over medium heat, melt butter with sugar and syrup. Whisk in cream. Heat to boiling, still whisking. (Mixture will foam and bubble up.) Continue whisking over heat for 2 minutes, until mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Stir in the salt. Pour 3/4 of the boiling sauce evenly over the batter in the prepared pan. Reserve the rest of the sauce in a heat-proof pitcher. Place cake in oven and bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden and springs back when lightly touched, or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. To serve, spoon out portions of the cake, top with choice of ice cream and sprinkle with toasted nuts. Serve with the extra sauce.
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