Pouding Chômeur


On the East Coast, where I am from, there is a dessert that once in a blue moon you will find in your mother’s kitchen, often enough in your grandmother’s, and when you are lucky freshly baked in small restaurants. Although everyone seems to have it in their baking repertoire, it is a dessert you see less and less at home.

En français, on l’appelle le pouding chômeur. In English, Jacob translated it as Unemployed Pudding.

We ended up ordering some last summer when we were on vacation in Cape Breton. Jacob never had pouding chômeur before and I couldn’t remember the last time I had some myself. I recall him looking at me and asking why we called it pouding chômeur. He was actually interested in the name and origins of the dessert. So cute!

What I told him is that it is a very traditional dessert, and an old one. I also knew it became popular in Quebec and in Acadian territories when the economic crisis hit in the late 1920’s. We know that period of our history as the Great Depression.

The ingredients were cheap ones and easily available for those who kept losing their jobs especially in the manufacturing sector.  I find it pretty cool that this recipe is now called a “classic” in Quebec, and back at home, knowing that it is a dessert that fed lots of French Canadians during hard times.

J’ai l’impression qu’on oublie souvent d’où viennent nos recettes, nos produits, dans quelles circonstances ce que l’on considère maintenant comme des « classiques » ont été créés il y a des dizaines d’années. En redécouvrant le pouding chômeur, j’ai l’impression d’avoir redécouvert une partie de notre histoire. La version que vous trouverez vient du livre de recettes Cuisine d’Acadie.

What I didn’t know is what it is properly called in English. It is called Pouding chômeur, just as in French, but it is also called Poor Man’s Pudding. I guess it makes sense. But I prefer Jacob’s translation.

I also noticed that there is many different ways of making this dessert. You can replace the brown sugar with maple syrup, which is a great variation. This recipe is the traditional one.

And now if you end up doing this dessert, you know why it is called this. I hope you will enjoy it!

You will need:
¼ cup of butter
1 egg, beaten
½ cup of sugar
1 ½ cup of flour
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 ½ cups of brown sugar
2 ½ cups of boiling water

In a bowl, mix the butter with the sugar and the egg.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the the milk to the butter mixture, then the flour mix.

Pour in the bottom of a greased pan (8 x 8).

Dilude the brown sugar in the boiling water and pour on top of the cake.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

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