Vegan pouding chômeur made with brown sugar.

Pouding chômeur, a French Canadian classic. Photograph: Tor Ince

Pouding chômeur – say it pudding show-MAR – is a big French Canadian hug on a plate and the fastest way to sugar coma I know. French for “unemployment pudding”, the story goes that Québécoise women invented it during the Depression as a cheap, easy dessert; it’s now one of the most iconic dishes in Canada and has had about a million gourmet spins put on it.

The most popular variant is made with maple syrup, which is now expensive enough to be cruelly ironic; I prefer to make it with soft light brown sugar, which is about five times cheaper and just as good. The result is three layers of perfection: a crispy, caramelly top and a middle layer of soft, fluffy sponge floating on a syrup-drenched base.


  • 15g margarine/butter
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 100ml milk
  • 15g margarine/butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  1.  Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
  2. Heat the syrup ingredients together in a saucepan; bring to the boil for one minute, then set aside to cool down a little. Don’t worry about it being watery.
  3. Make the cake batter. Cream together the fat and sugar in a separate bowl, add the vanilla essence and baking powder, then finish with the flour and milk.
  4. Pour the cake batter into a baking dish – mine is a 9″x9″ Pyrex dish. Flatten it out as evenly as possible, then slowly pour the brown sugar syrup on top. The goal is to keep all of the syrup on top of the batter without breaking through it, but don’t worry if you do – it’ll just bake through, anyway. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is crispy, cracked and golden.
  5. Serve it hot – cut into squares and spoon the syrup on top. For extra style points, put the cake face-down on the plate – this drives me insane, but for many it’s traditional. Enjoy! This keeps well in the fridge.