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Butterscotch Pudding Cake Recipe & Video

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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 Depression era.

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.

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Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch 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 your pan.

Butterscotch 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 35 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 refrigerator. Reheat.

Serves about 8 - 10 people.

View comments on this recipe on YouTube

Butterscotch Pudding Cake:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

3/4 cup (180 ml/grams) whole (full fat) milk, at room temperature

Butterscotch Sauce:

1 cup (240 ml/grams) water

1 cup (200 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons (25 grams) butter, diced

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