Pouding chomeur

My inaugural bake of this recipe … great floating action with this baking dish!

I have made Pouding chomeur a total of 4 times since yesterday.  What’s the big deal you wonder?  Was I contributing to a school bake sale?  Did I have a massive sweet craving ??  Is this how I am dealing with my current employment status … and apparently not very well?!  Au contraire – my current status enabled me to volunteer at my son’s school all morning and teach them about Quebec culture.  Keagan is in Grade 1 French Immersion and it recently struck me that he and his friends probably wonder why their parents are torturing them by having them learn stuff in a language that they don’t necessarily speak at home.  And when I look at the curriculum, I sense a great emphasis on reading, writing, and speaking in French … but not a whole lot of culture.  And isn’t that the beauty of learning another language … the opportunity to fully and wholly immerse oneself in another culture?  Language is one of the best ways to get to know a culture’s perspective on life.  The Inuit apparently have 35 words for snow – and if you lived in a place where snow was an important part of your everyday life, wouldn’t it make sense to have words that distinguished “igloo-making” snow from “sledding” snow and “OMG, let’s just stay in today because it’s that kind of snow” snow?  Similarly, in English, we have cousins and second cousins and the occasional 3rd cousin twice removed.  In Chinese, no such generic term exists because family is primordial.  When I meet relatives, I supposedly know exactly where they fit on my family tree because the aunt of my mom’s mom has a different term than the aunt of my father’s mom.  I say “supposedly” because I don’t ACTUALLY know … I just parrot back whatever term my mom tells me to say when I meet new relatives!  So, as I watch my son growing beautifully into his French, I wanted to start instilling him a love of all things French (ex the gauloises) – whether they be French France or French Quebec.  Because after language, the next best way to learn about a culture is through its food (and I might argue it’s THE absolute best way to learn)!  And given that April is “cabane à sucre” month (although this year, it started earlier), it seemed fitting to go to Keagan’s class and talk about what happens at a cabane à sucre (which, if you’ve only experienced a sugar shack in Ontario, is a vastly different concept) and make something with maple syrup … in this case, pouding chomeur.  Now there are probably some purists reading this who will say “Hold on there, there is no maple syrup in that because it’s the cake of the unemployed and maple syrup is/has always been expensive” … and for you purists, you are absolutely right.  But, even though my BFF’s mom’s recipe which was also HER mom’s recipe, did not include maple syrup, after lengthy discussions with Mme. Mitchell (ALWAYS the best part of learning a family recipe!), I found out that it was common to add some maple syrup to provide added flavour to the cake.  I just decided to boost the syrup significantly since if I was going to devote a whole morning to a discussion and celebration of all things maple syrup, the food that we were going to make better have more than a sprinkling of the Stuff!  So, I embarked upon my first-ever making of a Pouding chomeur last week so I could have it down pat before today’s event.  The recipe that was sent to me was essentially a list of ingredients and 2 sentences’ worth of instructions … one for the “sirop” and one for the “cake”.  LOVE IT especially since it meant that I had to phone Mme. Mitchell twice … once before I made it and once after I made it because when it came out, the cake was literally FLOATING on the syrup and the last time I ate a pouding chomeur, it didn’t look anything like that!  So I phoned Mme. Mitchell after I removed it from the oven in a slight panic and her reaction to my floating comment was “wow, it’s going to be good!” … I felt a whole lot better after that!   Yesterday, I made 2 more cakes – one to bring to the class with the recipe that I had, and one with some slight modifications to the recipe which we would keep at home.  And then, today, we split the class into 2 groups, so I ended up making it 2 more times … albeit with a lot more helping hands!  The class and myself all had a great time: they had cake before lunch, learned how to bake something and learned a bit more about Quebecois culture … including how to play the spoons while I got to spend more time with my son and his classmates and learned not to assume that a 6 year-old knows how to crack an egg (a literal explosion of egg and eggshells EVERYWHERE).  Somehow, I think I ended up with the better deal.

Here’s Mme. Mitchell’s recipe with my modifications … again my thanks to the Mitchells for passing this along to me!

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 tbsp Margarine

1 ½ cups Boiling Water

1 ½ cups Brown Sugar, packed

¾ cup Maple syrup

1 tsp Vanilla

Boil the above in a pot until it reaches a rolling boil, let boil for a minute longer (stirring) and pour into a baking dish … ideally a souffle dish 8″ wide by 3.5″ high.

2 cups Flour

¼ tsp Salt

2 tsp Baking powder

1 tbsp Margarine

1 cup Sugar

1 Egg

¾ cup Milk

¾ tsp Vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.  Mix margarine and sugar, then add the egg and then the milk and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.  Pour the batter into the syrup and spread it out as much as possible.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

After using flat baking dishes (which work just as well), I decided to purchase a souffle bowl as was recommended to me by my friend’s mom (and well-known Quebecois chef Ricardo … but her word carried way more weight!).  I can’t tell if the colour is the result of the dish or the modifications, but I don’t really care!

3 thoughts on “Pouding chomeur

  1. Funniest part was reading about how we refer to all our relatives in the Chinese culture – I always complained to my mom about how confusing it was, but she said it was so simple because you would immediately understand the relationship of that person to you or to whomever was calling them. None of this, “Is that your father’s dad or your mother’s dad?” Huh – I guess she’s right. The pouding chomeur looks cool – so nice that you could share this with Keagan and his classmates!

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