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Pouding chômeur à l’érable (Québécois Maple Pudding)

Pouding chômeur à l’érable (Québécois Maple Pudding)

This classic Québécois maple pudding is rich in flavor, easy to make, and utterly comforting. Learn more about the dessert’s origins, then bake it and enjoy a bowlful with ice cream!

Pouding chômeur à l'érable (Québécois Maple Pudding) //

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When Easter comes, I usually don’t crave chocolate. To me, March and April equal maple season so over those two months, I crave maple products in all their delicious forms. Sugars, syrup, butter, taffy, I daydream of all the delicious desserts these precious sweet natural products can make, from fudge to maple pudding to cookies. To be honest, I think we Québécois have maple syrup running in our veins – or perhaps our mothers have weaned us on it. It’s widely known that aromas are closely linked to memories, and there is indeed no other aroma that intoxicates me as much as maple does. When I smell maple, I’m like a dog hunting its prey, I won’t let go until I find the delicious source.

Although it’s true that maple products are also made in New England, we Québécois tend to be very possessive of the art of harvesting maple sap and turning it into all sorts of dreamy products. Of course, I may sound biased if I say that we make the best maple products in the world, but I’ll say that numbers do give us the advantage: Canada produces 80% of the world’s pure maple syrup, 91% of which is produced in Quebec. Canadian maple syrup is exported to approximately 50 countries, including the US, which is the primary importer. In fact, our American friends love our maple syrup so much that in 2007, Canada produced 67.6 million pounds of maple syrup yet exported 67.7 million pounds to the US using the reserve supply from previous years to support the growing export demand.*

Mind you, we don’t just export maple syrup, we enjoy it too. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t grown up going to a sugar shack at least once a year to have the traditional family-style maple brunch and slurp in excessive amounts of tire sur la neige (boiling hot maple syrup poured onto clean snow, then twirled onto wooded sticks and licked until sugar coma ensues). Many of us have someone in our close or extended family that owns a maple-producing farm: there are over 7,400 registered maple businesses in Quebec, but many more maple farms are operated every year, their products sold to close family and friends only.

Pouding chômeur à l'érable (Québécois Maple Pudding) //

By now you probably think I’m obsessed with maple syrup and indeed I am. Nothing makes me madder than ordering anything with maple syrup and finding out that corn syrup disguised as maple syrup is served instead. I will push it away, crinkling my nose as a 2-year-old would over steamed broccoli. As I said, we’ve grown up with it, so we’ve gotten pretty good at unmasking impostors. I’ll have pure maple syrup and nothing else, please.

Now, back to Easter. My parents were coming over on Sunday night, so of course, instead of making a chocolate dessert, I decided to go for maple instead. I thought this would be a great opportunity to make a classic Québécois dessert, which is also a favorite of my dad’s: Pouding chômeur. This dessert, which literally means “Pudding of the unemployed”, was very often served at home and on family gatherings when I was growing up. Pouding chômeur is so easy to make that even kids can make it, and I believe it may indeed have been one of the first desserts I made with my Mom. Its name comes from its origins: it is said that pouding chômeur was created by female factory workers during the Great Depression, in 1929. The dessert is made with cheap ingredients most families always had on hand at the time: flour, baking powder, water, brown sugar, and shortening or butter. Although it’s so simple, let me assure you it’s highly addictive.

A “Pouding chômeur” recipe from a cookbook published in Quebec in the 70s by a workers’ union. The province went through tough times in that decade and this book was published to provide easy, low-cost recipe ideas to unemployed workers. The first recipe yields a double quantity and the asterisk says “For families where lots of people are unemployed”.

A maple pudding recipe from a cookbook published in Quebec in the 70s by a union. The province went through tough times in the 70s and this book was published to provide easy, low-cost recipe ideas to unemployed workers. The first recipe yields a double quantity and the asterisk says "For families where lots of people are unemployed".

When economic times turned for the better, it didn’t take long for maple-loving Québécois cooks to get the idea of throwing maple syrup into the mix to make the pudding even sweeter and better. Some traditional recipes add maple essence to the sauce (boooooh!!!), but true maple aficionados use pure maple syrup in the sauce, forgoing the brown sugar completely. This is the way I chose to make it for Easter this year. To make the sauce thicker and more indulgent, I combine the maple syrup with heavy cream, which cuts through the sugar a little bit but makes the maple pudding truly indulgent.

Pouding chômeur served with heavy cream. From “La nouvelle encyclopédie de la cuisine” by Jehane Benoit, which is Québec’s answer to The Joy of Cooking.

Québécois maple pudding served with heavy cream. From "La nouvelle encyclopédie de la cuisine" by Jehane Benoit, which is Québec's answer to The Joy of Cooking.

* In case you’re wondering, I didn’t make these numbers up. They come from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. Feel free to peruse their site, which is filled with delicious maple recipes (savory ones too!) but be warned: you may very quickly become as addicted as I am!

Pouding chômeur à l'érable (Québécois Maple Pudding) //

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Pouding chômeur à l'érable (Québécois Maple Pudding) //

Pouding chômeur à l'érable (Québécois Maple Pudding)

This classic Québécois maple pudding is rich in flavor, easy to make, and utterly comforting. Just add ice cream!
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Total Time:1 hour
Servings 10 servings


For the sauce, maple version

For the sauce, traditional version

For the cake


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 9-in (23 cm) square baking pan.

For the sauce:

  • In a saucepan, whisk the maple syrup and heavy cream (or the brown sugar, water, and flour) together. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into the prepared baking dish.

For the cake:

  • In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.Measure the milk in a cup and mix in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one. With the beater on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients, then mix in the milk, and finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Spoon the cake batter over the hot sauce.
  • Set the baking dish over a baking sheet to prevent spills. Bake the maple pudding for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.
  • SERVING: To serve the maple pudding, spoon some of the warm cake on serving plates and enjoy with vanilla gelato or ice cream.
  • STORAGE: Store the maple pudding covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Warm up servings in the microwave or in a low oven before enjoying.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe, but I have a somewhat weird question, maybe. Many years ago, I saw a recipe for this dish on the lid of a can of maple syrup but it must have gotten lost when we moved at some point. That particular recipe involved an overnight placement in the fridge before baking, but I cannot recall what exactly was involved. Are you aware of this variation?

    • Hi there, I’ve never come across a pouding chômeur recipe that requires an overnight rest. I feel like this goes against the basic principle behind this dish, which is meant to be super simple! If you ever recall where you saw such instructions and what they were about, I’d love to hear more.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks the baking time doesn’t work? I still have 20 minutes left and it’s pretty much golden brown and bubbly…

    • Hi there! The batter can brown quickly, but the center of the cake layer won’t be fully set. If you find the top of the pudding is golden brown before the full bake time is up, cover it loosely with greased aluminum foil. This will avoid the pudding from burning but allow your pudding to cook through!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is excellent! (Our co-op has the extra dark Grade B maple) Family and friends love it. (Tends to brown in fewer than 45 mins.)

    • Hi there! So happy you’re enjoying my pouding chômeur, and extra dark maple syrup only makes it better. To prevent the pudding from browning too much, you can simply lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pudding when you see it has reached its beautiful golden brown color. I usually start keeping an eye on it after 30 minutes. No need to crimp the foil around the hot baking dish, simply place it over the top and keep baking until the pudding is fully done! Hope this tip helps you and others 🤗

  4. We had this at La Bûche in Quebec Cité just yesterday and immediately wanted to make it for Christmas. So happy to have found this recipe! Thank you!!

    • How wonderful! La Bûche is a great restaurant to get a taste of the sugar shack experience. I hope you’ll get to come back to Quebec City one day! In the meantime, enjoy the pouding chômeur 😍

  5. I’ve been searching for a recipe for this, and yours sounds perfect! I have two quick questions before I make this (in the next few days – a trial batch prior to Christmas! 😉). First, I generally use “dark” maple syrup for baking; will that work here, or should I stick with lighter (amber, etc) maple syrup? Second, in a comment to another version of this recipe, it was suggested to omit sugar from the cake part, as that person felt it was a bit too sweet and detracted from the maple’s sweetness. Do you have any thoughts on that? Thank you so much for this beautiful recipe – I can’t wait to try it! 🍁💖

    • Hi there! You can use whatever grade of maple syrup in this recipe. Dark maple syrup is extremely and will therefore create an extremely tasty dessert! 😍 As for the sugar, I would definitely NOT omit it from the cake. Sugar does sweeten the cake, but first and foremost, it makes (and keeps) the cake soft and moist. This is indeed a sweet dessert, but that’s why most people like it so much! 😉

  6. 5 stars
    It’s my second time making this recipe. I made the maple syrup recipe. My son in law is French Canadian …he loved this cake did the rest of my family.

    Thank you

  7. 4 stars
    Mine was beyond delicious, but browned too soon on the top making the final product less visually appealing. This was so tasty I am finding myself thinking of add ons and substitues for an excuse to make again (thinking caramelized apples).

    • Hey Monica, happy you enjoyed this delightful dessert! To prevent the pudding from browning too much, you can simply lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pudding when it’s golden brown. No need to crimp the foil around the hot baking dish, simply place it over the top and keep baking until the pudding is fully done. I think caramelized apples would be a delightful addition to the recipe!! I hope you’ll give it a try.

  8. I made this except with gluten free flour. I added 3/8 tsp baking Soda and 1 tsp baking powder (instead of 2 tsp baking powder). I also put the batter in the pan first and poured the sauce over the batter. The batter rose through the sauce while cooking. It was a big hit with my family, definitely something to make again.

  9. Ok, I am from Quebec and I have been searching for this recipe. The caveat is I remember as a child it being cooked on the stove but can’t find a recipe that is stovetop. If ever you come across it, tag me. With my older family all gone, I would love to share this with my younger family.

    • Hi Serena! I was so intrigued by the idea of a stovetop pouding chômeur recipe! I dug around and found an article that provides a stovetop recipe, which creates a result that’s closer to another classic Québécois dessert, “grand-pères au sirop d’érable.” Maybe that’s what you remember enjoying as a child? Here’s the link to the article + recipe:
      It’s in French so please do let me know if you need help making sense of it or translating the recipe, I’ll be happy to help!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for the first time with the Maple syrup. It is delicious. I took it to my sister and her husband’s house for dinner and shared it with a couple of neighbors. It was a big hit. I will make it again! I told people it was “pudding for the unemployed”. That was fascinating.

    • The story of this dessert is so fascinating! The modern version of the pudding is so rich and luxurious in terms of flavor that it’s hard to believe it was ever considered a “poor man’s” dessert.