Pouding chomeur – maple syrup sponge pudding

The chocolate puddle pudding I wrote about a few weeks ago went down so well that I felt duty-bound to make another self-saucing dessert for you to try at home. Pouding chomeur (French for poor man’s pudding) is a French Canadian dish, dating from an era when poor men could afford maple syrup. Maple syrup has been pretty pricey stuff for as long as I remember, and I suspect that this pudding was named when dinosaurs still roamed the Latin Quarter of Montreal.

You’ll be making an easy sponge, and pouring a maple syrup and cream sauce over it before putting it in the oven. The liquid magically swaps places with the sponge while the pudding is cooking, and you’ll end up with a lovely moist cake layer on top of a thick, syrupy, mellow and gloriously sweet sauce.

A warning – this is, by design, a very sweet dessert. I recommend cutting through the sweetness by sloshing cream over the warm cake before you eat it, or by having a glass of cold milk by your plate.

To make an amazingly sweet cake from the time of the dinosaurs, you’ll need:

Sauce
375 ml maple syrup (I used Grade A syrup, but Grade B will be great here too)
250 ml double cream
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Pinch of salt

Cake
170 g caster sugar
90 g butter
225 g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
180 ml milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ nutmeg, grated
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

Bring the syrup, cream, vinegar and salt to the boil in a saucepan and immediately remove from the heat. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk in a large mixing bowl, until the mixture is pale and soft. Add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and nutmeg to the bowl and beat in well with the whisk. Sieve the flour and baking powder in another bowl. Continue to whisk the creamed butter mixture on a medium to high speed, adding the milk and flour a tablespoon at a time until all the milk and flour are used up and the sponge mixture is light and fluffy.

Use a spatula to spread the sponge mixture in the bottom of a 20 cm square cake tin. Pour the sauce gently over the top. Don’t worry if it appears to disturb the sponge mixture – magic will happen as soon as you shut the oven door.

Put the cake tin on a middle shelf of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (it may take ten minutes or so longer – test the cake with a toothpick in the centre; if it comes out clean, the cake is done). Serve warm with an insulin drip.

9 Replies to “Pouding chomeur – maple syrup sponge pudding”

  1. I made this for the family last night, and ended up eating so much of it I felt really ill! I love the way the edges go all toffee like. This is a wonderful dessert which I will be making again.

  2. I truly enjoy reading this blog. I check in from time to time and always find something interesting. Liz, you are a good food writer; keep it up.

    As a Canadian (Toronto, Ontario here) I am obliged to have maple syrup on hand. I’ve an embarrassment of mapley riches – two big bottles on hand – so I shall make this just as soon as the weather turns cool.

    To all you folk who aren’t familiar with Maple Syrup grades, here’s a tip: Grade A is the most delicate tasting and actually has the least flavour for baking/cooking. If you find Grade B, snap it up as this has very strong maple flavour – just what you want in your baking. Don’t be put off by how dark the colour is – it’s what you’re looking for. Also, Grade B is usually cheaper than Grade A, the delicate stuff which is meant for pancakes and eating straight from the bottle (not that I have EVER done that).

  3. Maple Syrup was considered a peasant’s sugar (well, to be a little more accurate; the habitant’s sugar). As all farmers in Quebec owned their land, maple syrup was rather easy and cheap to acquire. Just collect the sap from some of your trees and boil it down.

    The industrial revolution brought many habitants to the cities. These workers still had extensive families living in the back country who made their sugar. Maple Syrup was a lot cheaper than sugar imported from the carribeans.

    … and there is no such thing as a French Quarter in Montréal.

  4. Thanks, I am from Quebec and wanted to make this for a long time. Everytime we get visitors form Canada they bring us 2 or 3 cans of maple syrup and we need to get rid of a few. I am sure the origin of this desert is in sticky pudding, only a cheaper version for poor people!
    There is another version of this. My uncle who is a gentleman farmer used to invite the whole family (about 60 people) and he’d fill a huge cauldron with maple syrup from his farm, and boil dough in it to make dumplings. That way you can have as much maple syrup as you like! No wonder we were a bit hyperactive.

  5. great recipe and thanks to the commenters here sharing information about maple syrup. I’ve eaten it since a child but have always been totally ignorant about it.

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