The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Old-Fashioned Pudding Cake

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Old-Fashioned Pudding Cake


I was looking through my old Betty Crocker's Cookbook a while back, and came across a couple of pudding cake recipes. Does anybody else remember pudding cakes? I'm probably dating myself here. My mom made a chocolate version when I was growing up, so this was like a blast from the past. All the ingredients are usually hanging out in my pantry, so I had to whip one up right away...

Well, either Betty's version is a dud, or my remembrance is a little distorted, because it was disappointingly bland, pale and lacking a good chocolate punch. The recipe called for shortening, very little salt, and no vanilla. No vanilla! Well I fixed that. I've omitted the one cup of finely chopped nuts from the cake layer, because I felt the texture didn't belong. And I switched from regular cocoa to Dutch processed for a deeper chocolate flavor. Now it's better than I remember.

The thing is so quick and easy to throw together, that it would be equally great as a week-night treat for the family, or an impromptu dessert that'll impress unexpected company. You don't have to get out a mixer, or even grease the pan. And you don't need to let it cool either, because it's best served warm... or hot with ice cream. Now that's immediate gratification!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Makes 9 servings 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably non-aluminum)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Measure flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and melted butter; blend in nuts if using. Spread batter in an ungreased 9-inch square pan.

Stir together brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla into hot water and pour gently over all.

Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.



Marni's picture

I remember this too.  I also still make one that is similar, but lemon, and is a sponge cake  that pulls away and floats on the lemon pudding puddle.  I may need to make your version this week!


SylviaH's picture

I have to say...Im probably older than all of you...and never had a pudding cake!! : (   .... my Mum was a pie and bread baker!  I have had and made a hot volcano chocolate cake... looks very simlar but has very little flour.  Thanks for the recipe!


ehanner's picture

Debbie, this is one of those things I know I should never make but will, just to see if it tastes as good as it looks. I don't usually do deserts so forgive the nuwbe question on this.

When you pour the hot water over the top layer, I take it that the water/vanilla soaks into the lower ingredients? How hot is hot enough?


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Marni - I've never had the lemon version, but it seems more people are familiar with that one. It's interesting that the lemon one is mixed up as one batter that separates into two layers while it bakes. The chocolate one has a thick brownie-like "batter" and liquid poured on top separately. But after about 10 minutes in the oven, the layers reverse. The batter releases from the pan and rises to the top. It's the strangest thing to watch. Kids would get a kick out of it. Heck, I get a kick out of it :-)

Sara - yes, gooey is a good description. Adding up the sugar, it does look like a lot for this size cake, doesn't it? I think that the darker cocoa and added salt cut the sweetness, as well as the warm serving temp, but you'll have to be the judge. It's not too sweet for me ;-)  The flavor reminds me a little of cooked chocolate pudding.

CB-PDX - thanks for the ramekin tips---I was wondering if they would bake well as single servings. Good to know.

Sylvia - it's like a moist, cakey brownie floating on a puddle of hot fudge sauce. In the bottom photo, you can see a hint of the "pudding" bubbling up in the corner.

Eric - shame on me for enabling :-) The water/vanilla combines with the cocoa and brown sugar sprinkled over the top to make the separate "pudding" layer---which ends up on the bottom in the end. Ya gotta make it once just to see the transformation. Hot tap water is fine, but I wouldn't use boiling water.

pattycakes's picture

Marion Cunningham has recipes in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook that are very good. Your recipe looks wonderful, and it reminds me of the one that my mother used to make that I loved. I remember rolling around on the bed in pain after eating too much one night!


ehanner's picture


It has to be pretty good/rich/sweet for me to not want a second helping. Everyone loved it! Thanks Debbie.

Now my wife wants me to make a big batch for her church luncheon next week.



Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Or maybe that's a bad thing. I'm sure CB and Patricia will agree---the stuff is dangerously good, but a little goes a long way ;-)  Glad you liked it.