This gooey pumpkin pudding chômeur (aka pumpkin pudding cake or self-saucing pudding) tastes like warm pumpkin pie smothered in butterscotch, only far simpler. Gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and optionally dairy-free too.
This dessert goes by many names: Pudding cake. Baked pudding. Self saucing pudding. Chômeur. Call it what you like; around here, we call it “best dessert ever” and “dessert that we most likely want to eat any given night of the week.” It’s so quick and easy that we often do.
Despite not having had much of a sweet tooth before I came along, Jay’s always had a soft spot for pumpkin pie. On this we can agree: pumpkin desserts should be enjoyed year round, not relegated to the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. I have strong feelings about pumpkin pie and put my ultimate version, complete with a flaky buckwheat crust, in my cookbook. Pumpkin pie does take a bit of fussing to get just right: ideally, fresh squash puree should be made, the crust should be blind-baked, the filling should be simmered on the stove and put through a sieve, and the pie should be baked at a low temperature to retain its silky texture, then given a lengthy cool down to make it sliceable. With these steps, pumpkin pie does become a bit of a special occasion dessert.
Not so chômeur, which means “unemployed person’s pudding” in Québecois and was commonly made from pantry staples. Just whisk together a thick, one-bowl cake batter, pour over it a mess of butter and maple syrup, stick it in the oven, and when you pull it out, it will have magically transformed into distinct layers of springy cake and gooey sauce.
This pumpkin pudding chômeur uses the same simple method, just a slightly longer ingredient list than the classic thanks to a handful of pumpkin spices and a trio of flours – oat, millet, and sweet rice – that keep it gluten-free. Pumpkin adds its orange hue and earthy taste (canned works perfectly well, though roasted pureed kabocha and butternut can stand in if you happen to have some on hand). The base recipe comes from the maple queen herself Katie Webster. I shared a GF chestnut flour version of the chômeur from her book a couple of years ago, and I got to thinking that a pumpkin version might be a winner in our pumpkin dessert loving household. I was right.
I’ve probably made this pumpkin pudding chômeur more than any other dessert in the past year. We can’t seem to get enough of springy cake meeting gooey maple sauce, all swirled together with a melty scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s simple to throw together and can go from raw ingredients to luscious spoonfuls in your mouth in about an hour. If you’re making it for guests, you can bake it up to several hours ahead, then reheat it in the oven until bubbly hot when you’re ready to serve up dessert. It keeps well for several days and reheats beautifully.
The chômeur gets added depth of flavor from millet and oat flours, both of which help to temper the inherent sweetness in a recipe that contains nearly a cup of maple syrup. Happily, maple is the only sweetener here – no refined sugar needed. I’m curious to try a dairy-free version of this using Miyoko’s vegan butter and 2 tablespoons each almond yogurt and almond milk in place of the dairy in the recipe. (UPDATE: I did! And it’s every bit as good as the original.) Luckily for us, we don’t seem to have a problem getting rid of too much chômeur!
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- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter (plus 1 teaspoon for the pan) (for a dairy-free option, use vegan butter such as Miyoko's cultured vegan butter)
- ¾ cup (180 ml) maple syrup
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- ⅓ cup (40 g) millet flour
- ⅓ cup (50 g) sweet white rice flour
- ⅓ cup (35 g) GF oat flour
- 2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (decrease to ¼ teaspoon if using salted vegan butter)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (120 ml) pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup (60 ml) well-shaken, low-fat buttermilk (for a dairy-free option, use 2 tablespoons almond milk and 2 tablespoons dairy-free yogurt such as Forager cashew yogurt)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) mild vegetable oil, such as sunflower
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- vanilla ice cream, for serving (for a dairy-free option, serve with vegan ice cream such as Nada Moo)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch high sides or a 10-inch pie pan (or the equivalent) and place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, and water. Place over medium heat until the butter melts, then remove from the heat.
- In a large bowl, sift together the millet, sweet rice, and oat flours with the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the eggs, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, maple syrup, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well-combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and pour the maple-butter mixture over and through the batter; the cake batter will begin to float to the top. Carefully transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake the chômeur until the top is golden, the sauce is bubbling, and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, dust with powdered sugar if desired, and spoon into bowls along with scoops of ice cream.
- Extra chômeur keeps well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.