Canadian Dessert Recipes

Pouding Chomeur (Poor Man’s Pudding)

This old-time recipe is a simple cake baked in a hot maple caramel sauce.

This recipe has been in the family since the 1930s. As butter and sugar were often scarce and relatively expensive in an era of rationing and frugality, desserts were a luxury that many of modest means could not afford.  Originating in Quebec, Pouding Chômeur takes advantage of the availability of the locally produced maple sugar that could be used by poor farmers who tapped their maple trees. 

Tapping maple trees, spring 1907. Photo: Reuben R. Sallows

The French term chômeur refers to someone who is unemployed. As this recipe spread to English Canada and the US it was given the English name “Poor Man’s Pudding” where maple syrup was often replaced by brown sugar.  I’ve also heard the recipe referred to as “floating island”, because once cooked, the cake floats on the syrup.

Nowadays, this dessert is most popular during the spring maple sugar season. Those sugar bush operations that open to the public will sell several types of maple products. If you’re lucky enough to book an outing at a traditional French Canadian cabane a sucre (sugar shack) expect some lively entertainment and a maple themed meal that is topped off with some hot pouding chomeur.

Pouding Chomeur

Pouding Chomeur (Poor Man’s Pudding)

Kevin Lamoureux
This old-time recipe is a simple cake baked in a maple or caramel sauce.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 8 people
Calories 350 kcal



  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 cup maple syrup or 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter



  • Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in the middle position.
  • In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together then mix in the eggs followed by the milk and vanilla. Combine with the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch (6 cup / 1.5 litre) baking dish and set aside.


  • In a 4 cup measure or bowl, mix the sauce ingredients until the butter has melted.
  • Pour the sauce over the batter by directing the flow over the back of a large spoon (Do this to avoid eroding the even layer of batter).
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm.
Keyword cake, maple, Pudding

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