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“Pouding Chômeur” and the Road That Leads Me Home…

“Home is where the heart is”

As cliché as it sounds, it is exactly that. Or how about this one: it is the people not the things that make a house a home? We may move our things from one address to another but we bring all our memories along and as corny as these clichés may sound, they sure ring a bell don’t they? The first most dramatic move in my life (I am sure this is shared also by many across the board) was flying away from the nest. I was so young but I felt totally ready to try things out on my own… There was a first attempt at riding solo followed by a brief return back to the nest and then, the big flight out for good. Seems I felt ready to be my own person, even if I was not quite sure who that person was or was going to be. I was eager to tackle the world and experience «it all». Nothing feels more empowering than being the boss of you right? I hardly ever looked back even though there were struggles and growing pains…I was quickly nostalgic for many of life’s familiarities but above all and for many, many years (and I still do from time to time), I missed coming home to my mom’s kitchen.

“The kitchen is the heart (or soul) of a home”… Another cliché but ohhh so true. For as far as I can remember, and I have a pretty darn good memory, there always seem to be something cooking at home. Opening the front door and smelling the aromas of dinner floating out of the kitchen was always the biggest welcome home hug ever. Although my mom could go to extravagant extremes when she was entertaining (and she still does), her day-to-day meals were simple yet full of flavour and über comforting. Once in a while, she would tackle something off the wall in the middle of the week, but for the most part, she prepared what she knew well. I started recognizing and anticipating smells. My favourites were pot roast, spaghetti sauce, pork chops, chocolate cake, roast chicken; mmmm such divine mouth-watering aromas! It is only when I started to live on my own that I quickly realized how much I would long for my mommy’s edible love and hugs… For some, it is arriving to an empty home and hearing the silence. For me, it was arriving in a neutral smelling apartment. Even when I started a family of my own and started to tie my «mom» apron on, even when appetizing smells drift out of my own kitchen, even when my kids (now adults) walk into the kitchen wondering in anticipation what is going to be served for dinner, even then and even still now do I miss being greeted by my mommy’s cooking. I still get the treat from time to time when I visit her but you know, it is not the same as coming home after a day of whatever and walking into a house that smells absolutely divine, yelling “I’m home! Sure smells good in here, what’s for dinner?”

The closest I ever get to that edible hug from my mom now that I am nearly all grown up is cooking up one of her classics. Pouding Chômeur is exactly that. To translate it literally, it means «pudding of the unemployed». It is a truly authentic French Canadian heritage recipe. It is a moist cake baked in a caramel maple sauce. Mmmmmmm, so, so good! I am not exactly sure of the origin of the first ever one made but it seems that it became wildly popular during the depression when basic foods were rationed, especially white refined sugar and butter.The sweetness came from maple syrup or brown sugar or a combination of both and lard was used instead of butter. Most Quebec families have their own heirloom Pouding Chômeur recipes. Even a few big restaurant chains offer this dessert on their menus! These days, it is maple syrup that is expensive, go figure!!! In my younger days, when it was sometimes hard to make ends meet, brown sugar was all I used when making this recipe. It is delicious either way so don’t fret if you do not have maple syrup. And although maple syrup is now a constant staple in my fridge, I like to use equal proportions of syrup and brown sugar. This is my mom’s recipe and it has all the warm and fuzzy you may be looking for and to boot, it is super easy to make using ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now! It’s a big mommy hug I am sharing with the world xo.

Mom’s Pouding Chômeur

What you need:

For the cake batter

1 large deep dish pan, such as a deep casserole dish. grease well with butter. I use Corningware™

Preheat oven to 350ºF and set rack in the middle

For the sauce:

How to make it:

  1. In a deep saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar and the flour until well blended. Add the maple syrup, mix well then add the water and the butter. Whisk everything together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  3. In another bowl, using a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Add the eggs in one at the time, beating on high until well incorporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour, blend until just mixed.
  6. Add half of the milk and blend well
  7. Repeat with another third of the flour, then the remaining milk and then the last addition of flour.
  8. Spread the batter into the prepared dish
  9. Gently pour the hot syrup over the batter. You can use a ladle, it will not disturb the cake batter as much but I go ahead and pour directly from the pot.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes. The liquid will settle at the bottom and the cake will rise to the top. You are looking for a nice golden crust and the syrup should be bubbling on the sides.
  11. Let cool for 1 hour. It is torture to wait that long I know…But show some restraint LOL!
  12. Serve while still warm, in deep bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This dessert is ooey gooey yummy good when served warm but also still impressive cold. Many have been caught digging into the leftovers with a spoon straight from the fridge while standing at the counter. You know who you are 🙂

Oh mother, I am home!!!