Pudding cake: Saucy, spectacular desserts from Sift

In the world of dessert, nothing illustrates the miracles an oven can perform the way pudding cake does. The fall issue of Sift presents a wide-ranging collection of pudding cake flavors, to surprise and delight. A great way for a beginning (or any) baker to impress, try your hand at some of these unique and comforting treats.


Through a clever bit of kitchen magic, pudding cakes create their own sauce as they bake. They’re transformed from ordinary cake batter to surprising, saucy delight. You can bake them as one large cake, or in individual dishes. These self-saucing sweets combine the very best parts of cake and pudding in one creative dessert.

These six pudding cake flavors will turn your ideas about dessert upside down. Click To Tweet

pudding cake via @kingarthurflour

Caramel Pear Pudding Cake

Pears, pecans, butterscotch sauce, tender cake. Comforting and elegant, this is a perfect fall dessert. A happy dollop of lightly spiced whipped cream would take this one right over the top.

pudding cake via @kingarthurflour

Raspberry Pudding Cake

An unusual flavor for the genre, fresh berries create their own brightly-flavored sauce. A lightly spiced, tender cake sits on top, creating tasty buried treasure with every spoonful. Any berry you please will do in this recipe, should you decide to branch out and explore.

pudding cake via @kingarthurflour

Gingerbread Pudding Cake

Just the thing for a cold-weather reward, these moist, spicy pudding cakes capture long-cherished dessert flavors. A drizzle of custard sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream complete the picture nicely.

pudding cake via @kingarthurflour Lemon Pudding Cake

Every spoonful of this saucy dessert is a delight to lemon lovers. It’s tangy, sweet, and buttery: pure happiness in every bite.

pudding cake via @kingarthurflour

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

Vanilla brings a head-turning take on these saucy desserts: they’re the perfect partner for fresh berries, caramel sauce, or any other flavor you choose to add.

pudding cake via @kingarthurflourFudge Pudding Cake

Finally, there will always be a place in our hearts for warm chocolate, and this Fudge Pudding Cake brings it to the table at its best.

We love the magic that happens to this quick stir-together batter that’s sprinkled with cocoa and brown sugar, then covered with liquid. Since liquid on top bakes down through the cake, everything stays wonderfully moist. The warm chocolate pudding on the bottom is heavenly, and beautifully set off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Happy, satisfying, warm, saucy desserts. Pudding cakes are the ultimate comfort food, fancy enough for individual desserts, and homey enough to be a spur of the moment indulgence. If you haven’t yet, pick up your fall issue of Sift magazine and get in on the magic at your house.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Diane Dorothy Smith

    Oops! Skip my second question about the sky blue mini cocottes. Had I read through the all the comments first, I would have realized that I am not the only reader captivated by your choice of bakeware. You’ve got such excellent style and taste! I’ll bet Martha Stewart’s crew has already asked you the same question about where you got these, too! 🙂

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Diane, we think of it as the thrill of the hunt when we’re near a good antique store 🙂

  2. Diane Dorothy Smith

    Chef Reid, could you please briefly explain what tool or technique you used to create the gorgeous whipped cream decoration on top of your lemon pudding? The whipped cream decoration looks like a little white cloud that is shaped like an ocean wave, effortlessly floating above the sky blue mini cocotte. I am so excited to not have to see another bizarre-looking quenelle or rocher plopped on top of or next to every dessert! (I am a culinary student, and I am also working in fine dining.) One more question: Are these sky blue mini cocottes pictured above made by Le Creuset or Staub?

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      So, Diane, the whipped cream you see there was definitely on the soft side of soft peaks; part of what makes it so moist and luscious-looking. I’ve worked some dessert stations where they forbid you to whip cream by machine – whipping cream by hand just to the point where it will make a mound like that and no more. That’s an artful dollop with just a teensy bit of back-of-the-spoon sculpting. Susan

  3. Irene from T.O.

    If somebody wants to cut sugar, do so in the sauce. I never use more than half the sugar that the sauce part calls for. I also make 2X sauce that these recipes give, so that the leftovers really are saucy on the bottom. I am also a 50+ year fan of pudding cake. First thing I learned to bake. You can add any chopped fruit to bottom of pan before batter goes in.

    And if anybody wants to make the batter ahead, put batter into pan and pan in fridge overnight. Try to have the sauce warm or room temperature (mix but do not refrigerate). Otherwise baking the whole thing from refrigerated takes very much longer.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Irene, thanks for the benefit of your pudding cake experience! I particularly like the idea of more pudding 🙂 Susan

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Colleen, we are always on the lookout (and so are our food stylists) for interesting baking vessels. Antique shops, flea markets, thrift stores. Half of the fun is the thrill of the hunt! Susan

  4. Lynette from Ohio

    I’m a bit surprised at Mollie@KAF’s response to Sandy’s question about leftover pudding cake. I’ve been making pudding cakes for, oh, more than 50 years (!), and never had a family of more than four to serve them to. Since most recipes do make eight servings, at least half of the dessert was always leftover. No problem. I would just cover it, put it in the fridge, and the next night reheat gently one serving at a time in the microwave. (I’ll grant you, it was harder before we had a microwave!)
    The leftovers are a bit less saucy than when freshly baked, because while it is true that the cake absorbs SOME of the sauce, it is far from deserving of being called “homogeneous mush”, as Mollie so uninvitingly points out! The reheated dessert still has distinct cake and sauce in every bite.
    Sandy, I would suggest that you try it. My family has been eating pudding cakes this way for years, and we’ve always enjoyed the leftovers, too! Chocolate and lemon are our favorites, but I think I’ll whip up the gingerbread for a treat tonight for the two of us still at home…and enjoy the leftovers for the rest of the week!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      I’m with you, Lynette. Leftover is fine! I hearby plead guilty to visiting the leftover pan with a spoon and a look over my shoulder to make sure no one knew how it was disappearing! Suswan

  5. Nancy Stevens

    I have two questions:
    1. Would these pudding cake recipies be good candidates for substituting gluten-free flour? Sometimes the substitution works; sometimes it doesn’t. ;-(
    2. If I were to make the pudding cake for a holiday dinner, would it be possible to make the ingredients ahead, store in the fridge and then pop into the oven during dinner, so it comes out nice an warm in time for desert?

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi, Nancy. We haven’t tested these with gluten-free flour, but if you want to give it a try, I’d recommend the vanilla as your first one-it has the pudding on the bottom to start with, and is more likely to reproduce the flour-based original. Pudding cakes that start with liquid on the top that bakes through are less likely to work with gluten-free flour; gf flour is based on starches, and it is likely that the liquid would be captured by what should be the cake part and make more of a homogeneous blob than 2 distinct layers.

      And yes, no reason you can’t prep top and bottom in advance (for the vanilla) and bake just as you sit down to supper. Susan

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Arlene, I’d search for individual cocottes and see what comes up; the ones in the photo are an antique shop or thrift store find from our food stylist. Susan

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