This is a pudding
from my childhood. Warm and homey, it's a white cake baked with it's own
butterscotch sauce. It is everyday fare, rich and
satisfying, and perfect when served warm from the oven with or without a scoop of vanilla
ice cream or a drizzling of cream. I had long forgotten this dessert until a
reader wrote to me about a pudding recipe she was trying to find. She didn't
know its name, she could only describe it as a self saucing pudding cake made
with a white cake and a butterscotch sauce. At the time I didn't have a recipe
to give her, but I started thinking about it and remembered how my mom used to
serve us something similar during the cold winter months. So I started the hunt
for a recipe. I looked in all my mother's recipe books and notes and I couldn't
find it. It was not until I was reading Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird's
excellent cookbook "Canada's Favorite Recipes" that I found it. It seems to have
originated in Quebec Canada, where It is called a Pouding Chômeur. When
translated it means (Unemployed Person's Pudding or more commonly known as A
Poor Man's Pudding). Other names for this dessert are a Self-Saucing
Butterscotch Pudding, a Maple Syrup Pudding or even a Brown Sugar Pudding. Views
differ on its exact time of origin, although many believe it's from the
There are two parts to this pudding, the cake and the
butterscotch sauce (the difference between butterscotch and caramel is
that butterscotch is made with brown sugar and caramel is made with white
sugar). The sauce is simply a boiled mixture of brown sugar, water, maple
syrup, and a little butter. The pure maple syrup gives this sauce a
distinctively rich, sweet and nutty flavor. Given the name of the of this
pudding "A Poor Man's Pudding" you may wonder why it contains pure maple
syrup as it's quite expensive. But you have to remember that this recipe
originated in Quebec, where maple syrup is collected from their maple
trees each spring when their sweet sap flows.
When researching this
dessert, a lot of people described it as being very sweet. Which is true.
But while the butterscotch sauce is very sweet, I found you could reduce
the dessert's overall sweetness by only using a small amount of sugar in
the cake batter. What is unique about this Butterscotch Pudding Cake is
that once the cake batter is spread onto the bottom of the pan, the hot
butterscotch sauce is immediately poured over top. While the pudding cake
may look like a bit of a mess at this point, during
baking it's transformed. Miraculously the cake batter rises to the top of
the pan and becomes all puffed and cracked. Conversely, the butterscotch
thickens and sinks to the bottom of the pan becoming a thick pudding sauce. I like this
dessert best when served shortly after it is removed from the oven, while
it's still nice and hot. If there are any leftovers, they can be covered
and stored in the refrigerator and simply reheated the next day.
Pudding Cake: Preheat
your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center
of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick cooking spray, an 8 inch (20 cm)
square baking pan.
Cake: In a
bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of
your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about
2-3 minutes). Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Scrape down the
sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture (in three
additions) alternately with the milk (in two additions), beginning and ending
with the flour mixture.
Spread the batter evenly onto the bottom of
Sauce: Put the water, brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter in a saucepan and
place over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, stirring frequently.
Remove the sauce
from the heat and gently pour it over the cake batter. Bake for about
minutes or until the
cake is puffed and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. A
toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove
from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10-15 minutes before
serving. Best served warm. Excellent with vanilla ice cream or pouring cream. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the
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