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. sandy

    This may be a silly question but here goes…
    What happens to the cakes and the sauce when the cakes cool? There’s only two of us and I am sure we would not eat all the cakes up when they come out of the oven and are warm and saucy. Can they be stored and re-heated? Does the sauce solidify as the cakes cool? I am thinking I might need to wait until I need eight desserts for a party to try them. They look wonderful.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Not a silly question at all, Sandy. The cake will absorb its sauce as it sits, so while storing pudding cake in the fridge and reheating it in the microwave will result in a tasty treat, it won’t be quite the same as warm from the oven – more of a homogeneous mush than two complementary parts. Hope this helps guide your baking! Mollie@KAF

  2. Anne

    I’ve loved making chocolate pudding cake in part because I know that I can reduce the sugar in the cake without damaging its texture; with so much sugar in the pudding, it’s too sweet otherwise, and I like my chocolate bitter in any case. I see, though, that the sugar in the gingerbread and raspberry cakes are creamed with the butter rather than stirred in. Are those two dependent on that creaming action for structure enough that reducing the sugar is a problem? Thanks!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Anne, I think you can successfully cut the sugar by 25% in those recipes without causing any trouble. You’ll still have enough granules to get things going. Susan

  3. Tonia

    I can’t remember, but can you freeze the unbaked individual cakes and then just pull out the number of servings you want and bake? This might be an option for the lady with just 2 in the family.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Tonia, I haven’t tested this, but I think it’s certainly worth a try. If you get to it before I do, let me know how it comes out!! Susan

  4. Jules

    Hi, and along similar lines, just two of us! Can ramekins be assembled and then frozen unbaked? If yes, what would be appropriate thawing process/es and for how long…counter; refrigerator, microwave or just pop into oven and an adjustment on baking time? Thank you! They all look delicious!

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Jules, I haven’t tested freezing before baking, but my best advice is to thaw overnight in the fridge and bake as normal. Susan

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Yes, Charlotte. You’ll want to decrease the baking powder, use extra large instead of large eggs, and may need to increase the liquid by about 2 tablespoons (1 for cake and 1 for pudding). For a guideline about how much to cut the leavener, see our altitude baking guide. Susan

  5. Lulu

    I remember pudding cakes from years ago (I don’t want to think of how many), and I’d almost forgotten about them. Thanks for a good idea for my next book group.

  6. Pam

    Can the pudding cakes be baked in an 8 X 8 pan? I have ramekins, but would prefer to serve my company from – and wash – only 1 dish.

    1. Pam

      It would help if I had read the recipes that include using an 8X8 pan before typing my earlier question. I was looking at all the beautiful pictures of individual servings and thinking I’s rather make one big dessert.

    2. Susan Reid, post author

      Yes they can, Pam. You’ll see alternative pan sizes in the preparation line of the instructions. Susan

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Hi Sheri. We don’t have subscriptions to Sift available, by you can always get it from us here, or at bookstores, Costco, and most grocery stores. Susan

  7. Mimi

    These look great, but it’s disappointing not to see the gluten-free versions of these recipes also posted as a companion in the KAF Gluten free blog…

    If that’s not an option, perhaps the test kitchens could provide helpful tips for conversion to Gluten Free, for example if there are different preparation and ingredient handling techniques under each step of the recipe….

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Mimi, the best place to start is with the vanilla recipe and our Measure for Measure flour. The inversion process of having pudding bake through the cake is a long shot when using gluten-free flour, since the gf flour is composed of starches that will want to hang on to the liquid instead of letting the pudding form on the bottom. The vanilla recipe has the pudding on the bottom to begin with, so it’s the best candidate for a GF version. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

    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

  10. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Susan

  11. 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

  12. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Diane, we think of it as the thrill of the hunt when we’re near a good antique store ๐Ÿ™‚

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