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. 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.
Today this dessert is most often served during the maple sugar season and is usually on offer at the cabanes a sucres (sugar shacks) across Quebec and parts of Ontario.
Pouding Chomeur (Poor Man’s Pudding)
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 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 batter ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on low setting to cream the butter and sugar (about 2 minutes).
- Gradually blend in the milk and vanilla alternating with the dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into an 8-inch (6 cup / 1.5 litre) baking dish and set aside.
- 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