Chocolate pudding cake: An antidote to November

So, here we are, sitting under the fluorescent lights because it’s already gloomy-gray outside at just 4:30 in the afternoon. We, the Web team here at King Arthur Flour, are still trying to “fall back” from Daylight Savings Time, getting used to the sun sidling low around the horizon each day before finally—resignedly—setting late in the afternoon. Before we even leave work. So that we trudge out to our cars in darkness. Sigh.


Here’s the late-afternoon view out the window. The trees on the hill behind the school across the street have lost their bright leaves; they look like an old sepia photo, where before they were pure Kodachrome.


Here’s Jim, our Web architect; and Janet, our designer. Jim doesn’t realize winter is descending; he gives up on summer with great reluctance.

So, I’m sitting here writing copy for the next catalogue when a sudden fit of ennui propels me from my chair into the kitchen. On days when I’m writing instead of baking, I often get a terrible itch, late in the day, to MAKE something. The siren song of chocolate and butter brings me down the hall to the kitchen, where my hand automatically turns the oven dial to 350°F and I reach for my mixer bowl.

But not today. Since I’d been writing about the Zojirushi bread machine (my best kneading friend), I’d started remembering all the things you can use the Zo for, beyond bread. In fact, a few years ago I wrote a recipe booklet, “Beyond Bread,” that my mom uses to this day (thanks, Mom!) She makes soup, porridge, scalloped potatoes, rice pudding… all manner of non-bread treats.

I thought about chocolate… and the Zo… and fudge cake. And I was drawn away from the oven, away from the mixing bowl, and instead to the bread machine. From which, 1 hour later, I triumphantly pulled a Fudge Pudding Cake, which I served to my fellow Webbies amidst great acclaim. Jim devoured it. Janet swooned. Halley NEVER refuses chocolate, especially when it’s warm. Tracy… Well, Tracy, you went home while it was still light and you missed it. But don’t worry; we saved you a bowlful for tomorrow.


Whisk together the cake batter, and pour it into the Zo’s bucket (sans kneading paddles).


Brown sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder go on top.


Drizzle hot water over all.


Program for a 40-minute bake. After the bake, let it rest for 20 minutes. OK, admittedly it’s not the handsomest cake in the world.


But dig in with a spoon, and scoop out a bite of tender cake dripping with fudge sauce… There’s no better remedy for a late Wednesday afternoon in early November.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Fudge Pudding Cake from your Zojirushi.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Tom

    PJ, I want your job. Seriously. Being able to wander down the hall and bake something sounds like an incredible perk. And you’re paid, too? LOL probably not nearly enough!

    Is the “Beyond Bread” booklet available?

    It’s a dark and gloomy afternoon here in the Pacific North-wet!


    North-wet -I like it! Yes, this IS a great place to work. Best Place to Work in Vermont, two years in a row now. Best 15 Small Workplaces in America, according to the Wall St. Journal. Tough to keep the weight off, but a GOOD place, for sure. I’m trying to see if we can make those booklets available again – stay tuned… PJH

  2. Becca

    You’ve mentioned the Zojirushi bread machine a few times here. What makes it stand out from all the others?

    Well, we keep testing it against the others, and have for years, and we keep liking it the best. We started carrying Zo back in the early ’90s, and in our opinion, it’s the best combination of high-quality components, ruggedness and reliability, and versatility. It makes the closest thing to a standard-shaped loaf (important for toasters!), if you plan on baking in the machine. And it’s completely programmable, which for me is the biggest plus. I can program in any rising, kneading and baking times I want—and save three of them permanently, which is plenty. The one I use all the time is just plain kneading: no pre-heat—followed by a 60-minute rise. Then I take the dough out and go from there. So I throw the dough ingredients in the bucket, press the button, walk away, and 90 minutes later – beautifully kneaded, risen bread dough to make into pizza, rolls, a sandwich loaf, bagels, breadsticks, rye bread, whatever. It’s a time saver, and we’ve found the Zo kneads dough more effectively than either your hands, or a stand mixer.

    So that’s it in a nutshell. It’s like, why do you choose a Toyota or Honda or maybe Volvo instead of another brand? Because they’re built to work, and built to last. They’re good value. Same with the Zo. We have seven of them working regularly in the test kitchen, and they never miss a beat, day after day. Anyway – sorry for the sales pitch, but you asked! PJH

  3. Sandy

    A testimony for the Zo bread machine….my son and family own the Zo bread machine, purchasing it at your store since they live just an hour away. The reason they bought it is that my grand-daughter and my son both are Celiac and must eat gluten free. The Zo makes it so easy for my daughter-in-law to make real gluten free bread. I was visiting when they bought it and they made a loaf of bread every day while I was there! They all loved it and are hands-down super fans of the Zo machine. My daughter, who lives in the same town as I do, also owns a Zo and she is also Celiac and uses the machine to make bread. She loves hers also. So…..the Zo bread machine is well worth the money!

  4. Janet

    I don’t usually chime in on PJ’s blogs but can’t resist commenting here. Yup, King Arthur is a wonderful place to work. Great people and a very special spirit that comes from being an employee owned company. As for the chocolate pudding cake– well yes the sky was gray and darkening too early yesterday, something seemed too heavy in the air as we were all diligently working on various tasks and up pops PJ from her desk asking “should I make chocolate bread pudding in the Zo? I can have it ready by 4:00” Well, do you think anyone said “no?” We all watched the clock for the next 45 minutes. PJ’s timer beeped and off she dashed to the kitchen, returning with the pan (right out of the bread machine) bowls and spoons! She’s a gem. Spoils us with her fabulous baking – tried and true and experiments alike. I’m a big fan of pudding cake, always have been since my mom made it when I was little. The recipes in our cookbook are easy and delicious so definitely check those out if you don’t have a Zo. Hmmmm…I wonder what’s coming out of the test kitchen today…..

    HA! Cinnamon “monkey biscuits” in the tree pan, showered with confectioners’ sugar to look like snow, maybe? How about that, sports fans? TX. (FYI, Janet and I have been working together here for 20 years. So you know we’re one another’s biggest fans.) PJH

  5. SusanG

    another testimony for the Zo. I’m on my second. I literally wore the first out. With arthritis in my hands, there’s no way I could make bread without it. It does a better job than any stand mixer because of the two paddles. I have three tried-and-true recipes used all the time, and of course, several are adapted from KA bag or cookbook recipes! Were this one to die tomorrow, I’d be on the phone tomorrow afternoon. NB: I have baked with it only once, because I prefer using pans, free shaping, etc. But it does the heavy lifting for great bread.
    (And no, I don’t eat all that bread, but take loaves to parishioners when I visit.)

  6. lisa

    I’ve been holding onto a cut-out copy of this recipe from the back of a sack of KA flour, and was planning to make it this winter! Glad to see it published here – it looks delicious.

  7. Halley

    I just can’t help but chime in with a shameless plug from the marketing department…

    PJ forgot to mention one very important part (that you would have only found out if you got our e-newsletter, hint hint) – we are offering free shipping on Zo bread machines this month.

    My husband keeps hinting at me that we need one, so I think this may end up being my Hanukkah present this year… and yes, I’ll probably end up making more chocolate in it than bread!

  8. Lenore

    PJ and Co….I have a recipe request of you and your amazing bakers. Where would be the appropriate place to post this? thanks Lenore

    Lenore, send me an email: Look forward to hearing from you. Just a caution: No promises as to when your request might actually get baked… we’re kinda backed up. But send it anyway – PJH

  9. Beth

    PJ, Has the KAF Test Kitchen checked out the bread and baguette baker made by Emerilware/T-Fal. It looks kind of interesting. I don’t know how long it’s been on the market. It makes 3 different sized loaves of bread. I looked up reviews, and some people loved it, and others hated it. Actually it didn’t seem that there was any in between. I trust KAF when it comes to machines, but just happened to come across this.

    I’ll pass this along to our merchandise team, Beth – I haven’t seen it hanging around the test kitchen yet- PJH

  10. Gayle

    I made this last night in my ZO. It was tasty, but not amazingly so. Love 99% of the KAF recipes I’ve tried (and since I own 3 KAF cookbooks, I’ve tried lots of them), but this one is just okay. In the spirit of full disclosure, for dietary religious reasons I didn’t use the espresso powder, so perhaps that makes a significant difference. I used a scale and measured things precisely. I also used my favorite dutch-processed cocoa powder by Callebaut. The cake was moist and looked just like the picture; I just wasn’t wowed by the flavor. That being said, it’s yummy enough to keep eating. I imagine that by the end of the day, my family will have polished it off. By the way, I’m enjoying the blog, and look forward to trying many more recipes. Thanks!

    Hi Gayle – It’s OK not to love everything – I’m not wowed by every single thing I make (but the process is always fun!) This cake has mild chocolate flavor, despite its dark good looks; the espresso wouldn’t have made the huge difference you’re looking for. I do like the concept – I’d say try some of our other pudding cake recipes online, and see what you think. Cheers! PJH

  11. Jane

    I have only one complaint about the Zo. I like to bake the bread in the machine but I have a terrible time getting the loaf out! I have tried spraying the paddles and the spokes they sit on with oil and I wash off the poles each time but they still stick when I try to remove a loaf. Just how is one supposed to get the bread out without shaking forever?

    Yes, this is an issue. Have you tried setting a timer, and removing the paddles completely after the first rise, just after they rotate a few times to deflate the dough? Just take the dough out, remove the paddles, spray the bucket with oil, and replace the dough. It’ll rise and bake, and then should slip right out. Seems like a pain, but it does work… Also, I find some loaves stick, and some are fine. It’s kind of random… I don’t bake in the machine much, just when I need a plain loaf for croutons or crumbs. Mostly I use it to knead dough. Hope this helps- PJH

  12. Alexandra

    I live in a small New York apartment and last year we bought the Zojirushi Mini Bread Machine. We love it! It’s the perfect size for stashing away conveniently and it makes a delicious loaf that is just the right size for two people. I highly recommend it for small apartment living.

  13. Gerry Walker

    On getting your loaf out of the bread machine: I finally took a rubber spatula, ran it around the sides; it kind of breaks whatever seal is between the bread and the sides of the machine and the loaf comes out much easier.

  14. Kim

    I don’t have your equipment, but I just came upon your site. I made a very close recipe of this last night for 80 people in 2 double 9X13 pans. That was a lot of chocolate pudding cake. It was hot when we served it, and they cleaned it up. I love the “what exactly is this?” question. The kids call it lava cake, because of the way it looks on top after baking.

  15. Jane

    I was afraid there wasn’t an easy way to get a baked loaf out of the pan. My problem is always with the paddles so taking them out after the first rise will be the way I will have to go. Makes it all a lot less convenient and would keep me from recommending the Zo so highly. When you are writing the copy for this machine you might want to let people know that it is best used just for kneading but to forget about baking bread in it.

    Jane, plenty of people are able to get their bread out just fine – including me, much of the time. I’ve never discovered what it is that makes SOME loaves stick. I don’t bake in the machine often because I prefer to feel the dough in my hands, I like to shape it, and I don’t bake plain loaves that often. But for those who want to bake in the machine, I’d say the Zo is still the best choice, due to its overall quality and versatility. – PJH

  16. cindy leigh

    I love my Zo!
    I use it almost exclusively for mixing and kneading. I form the (usually sourdough) loaves by hand and bake. I don’t like the big holes in the bottom of the loaf when you bake in the Zo. Can’t slice for sandwiches with those big gaps in the bottom. Maybe I’ll try removing the paddles as suggested.

  17. MaryJane

    I was a lucky recipient of some of PJ’s puddin’ cake (To me, it has to be puddin’ not pudding.) It was just right for a drab afternoon. Sooo very comforting. Thanks for sharing PJ!

    Yup, I agree, MaryJane – it’s not gourmet, it’s old-fashioned, in the way chocolate pudding used to be. Just… right. PJH

  18. Stacerella

    PJ, came across a recipe for making mini brownie cakes in mugs, bookmarked it and then promptly forgot all about it. You just reminded me to go looking for that recipe to test as a Christmas jar gift idea. I love your brownie recipes. I think I will use the KA ingredients in the jar gifts, and if they turn well, I will let you know. 🙂

  19. Elizabeth

    I loved both the recipe and the story. Congratulations not only on a fine recipe but on a fine piece of writing as well! What fun. Thanks!!

  20. Missy

    Dear PJ,

    Hi! This looks WONDERFUL! I love a pudding cake and haven’t had it since I was a kid (but my mom used actual pudding, so was not as delicious I’m sure as this will be!)

    but….herein lies my question….I love how you gave us the stock numbers at the very bottom of the recipe if we would like you to do the measuring….I found the hot fudge mix ok, but nowhere on your site can I locate this:

    #3621 quick mix chocolate cake

    I know I may sound lazy, but I am sick with Lupus and some other ailments, so any time I can actually accomplish something in the kitchen with limited pain/effort, well, it makes my day! :o)

    By the way, a friend of mine online JUST turned me onto this site about 4 or 5 days ago, I have already ordered (and shockingly received today!) your English Muffin Kit.

    My Granny and Dad were both from England and she used to bake me homemade English muffins when I was a kid. She died when I was young (and b4 I could get her recipe!) I cannot even express to you my joy at finding them on your WONDERFUL site! I already have thrown lots more things into my ‘shopping cart’…..and eagerly await my next bunch of goodies!

    Thank you, Bless you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!
    Missy from CT

    Hi Missy,
    First, the chocolate cake has been re-named recently. It is now the Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake. Item 3436.
    Second, English muffins are one of those foods that so many of us tie into our memories of ‘comfort foods’. A little peanut butter and honey on mine, and it is back to my honeymoon days with my sweetie. Enjoy!

    Happy Baking!
    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline


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