Easy Cake Pudding: a deep, dark secret...


You know what the best parts of baking are?

First, imagining the final product when you’re reading a recipe.

And second, imagining the final product when there’s NO recipe – when you’re playing the “what if…” game with yourself.

What if… I add a cup of crunchy granola to my favorite sandwich bread dough?

What if… I spread a pan of brownies with melted marshmallow, and sprinkle with toasted pecans, and drizzle with chocolate ganache?

What if… I make bread pudding, but substitute cubes of cake for the bread? And instead of milk or cream for the custard, I use…

Nuh-uh, not so fast! My lightbulb moment regarding the custard didn’t come until my imagined “cake pudding” had gone through a few iterations.

First, I needed to develop a recipe with a pumpkin theme.

What, you think here in the test kitchen we just willy-nilly make up any ol’ recipes we want to?

Well, sometimes that happens. But more often, our teammates – on the product team, in the flour division, in graphics – are asking us (well, telling us) –

Do a recipe using chocolate chunks and espresso powder.

Or how about something with SAF Gold yeast and Hi-maize fiber?

We REALLY need a good-looking pie for the November 2 King Arthur Flour home page…

My mission for mid-September, should I choose to accept it – which, of course, I did – was a pumpkin recipe. Preferably something new and different.

I mean, there’s pie, and scones, and quick bread, and muffins. And yeast rolls.

But we’ve done all of those. Let’s see…

How about pumpkin bread pudding?

Hmmm, did that, too.

Well, how about bread pudding made with cake, instead of bread? Like, gingerbread. And then add pumpkin to the milk/eggs/sugar you pour over the bread (er, cake), and you’ve got pumpkin CAKE pudding.

Now, that sounded good to me, and I was running with it. Until I looked at the pumpkin bread pudding recipe, and started thinking again.

What if, instead of adding canned pumpkin and sugar to milk and eggs, I just use [lightbulb moment] –

…pumpkin-flavored coffee creamer?

Which, of course, got me all revved up imagining other combinations. Like yellow cake pudding with caramel macchiato coffee creamer. And chocolate cake paired with Bailey’s Irish Cream creamer.

But wait, there’s more! Never mind a plain cake pudding. How about stirring in chocolate chips, or berries, or dried fruit? And how about adding a crunchy topping, a pleasant contrast to the soft, smooth pudding below?

Guess what? It all worked.

Substitute cake for bread: check. Use coffee creamer instead of milk and sugar: check. Add chips or fruit or nuts to the filling: check.

Crunchy topping? Check.

Which, dear readers, is how this Easy Cake Pudding (pumpkin-gingerbread version) came to be.

Is your imagination taking flight yet?

If so – you’re one  of us!

Join me as I make gingerbread, then turn it into pumpkin-gingerbread cake pudding.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Whisk together the following in a mixing bowl:

2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, or 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg

Stir in 3/4 cup molasses. Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, and pour that, too, into the dry ingredients in the bowl, mixing to moisten.

Whisk together 1/4 cup water, 1 large egg, and 1 cup buttermilk. Stir into the batter until it’s evenly combined. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, if desired.

No buttermilk? Substitute 1/4 cup yogurt stirred into 3/4 cup milk.

Pour the batter into a 9″ square pan, which you’ve greased lightly.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.

Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

OK, now we’re ready to make cake pudding. Obviously, I’ll continue with the gingerbread here; but use any flavor cake you like. You’ll need about 1 pound of cake. (When you’re in a rush, a plain, unfrosted 16-ounce cake from the supermarket works fine. I’ll never tell!)

Cut the cake into 1″ chunks. Spread the chunks on a baking sheet and let them sit overnight, uncovered.

If you don’t have time for this step, it’s fine; your pudding will just be smoother in texture.

Place the cake chunks into the pan, squeezing them together but keeping them in a single layer. If you’ve used a 9″ square cake (as I’m doing here), use only enough of the chunks to fill the pan in a single layer; if you really squeeze them close you might fit them all in, but what the heck – why not just enjoy a few. A short zap in the microwave will restore the gingerbread to its just-baked glory.

Scatter chips, nuts, dried fruit, or berries over the cake if you like, pushing them down into the cracks as much as possible.

Next, whisk together the following:

6 large eggs
2 cups flavored coffee creamer (pumpkin pairs nicely with gingerbread)*
1 cup milk: skim, low-fat, full-fat, half & half, or light cream

*Truth be told, seasonal pumpkin coffee creamer wasn’t yet in the stores when I made this pudding; but I know it’ll be delicious, once I can get my hands on some.

Note:  If you prefer not using flavored coffee creamer, substitute 2 cups whole milk or half & half for the 2 cups creamer. Sweeten to taste; 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar should do it.

Pour the custard over the cake in the pan; it should just about cover the cake, with perhaps some “islands” remaining uncovered.

Interested in some crunchy topping?

This Praline Pumpkin Seed Crunch is yummy; think toffee peanuts, but made with pumpkin seeds, then coarsely crushed.

I sprinkled 1/2 cup of the crunch over the pudding before putting it into the oven.

Bake the pudding for 40 to 50 minutes, until it’s set on top and possibly beginning to brown a bit. The pudding’s internal temperature, at the center, should be at least 185°F.

Remove the pudding from the oven, and serve warm.

Or cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, reheat individual servings in the microwave briefly, just until warm. Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

I desired. Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche, to be exact.

OK, what about other versions?

In case you missed this on our Facebook wall (and trust me, hundreds of you saw it and were kind enough to share your own kitchen disasters), this is a golden cake with chocolate chips and French vanilla custard pudding.

Which slipped out of my hand as I was taking it out of the oven. It hit the rack, flipped, and landed with an enormous splat on the oven floor.

I was unable to salvage more than a taste – but it was really good!

This one, with pound cake and frozen raspberries and “sweet cream” coffee creamer, was a big hit with my mother-in-law, a bread pudding aficionado.

And with me, too. Especially with a scoop of strawberry sorbet on the side…

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Pudding Cake.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. aedpad

    Pumpkin flavored coffee creamer???? Have you read the ingredients list on coffee creamer? Why not use real pumpkin and milk which is what I would expect from King Arthur!
    There is an alternative to the creamer in the baler’s tip section on the recipe page. Please feel free to use this option. ~Amy

  2. onlinepastrychef

    I had just such an epiphany about making a cake pudding a couple of months ago! But rather than twice-baking the cake, I made a custard that I stabilized with gelatin and formed the whole deal in a springform. It was maybe one of the best things ever:) I love the idea of using pumpkin in the custard, but I must admit that I have a deep and abiding fear of those non-dairy creamers. Too much weirdness in them for me. Here’s how my guy turned out, if you’d like to see: http://pastrychefonline.com/2012/07/31/food-52sday-recipe-interpretation-caramel-spice-pound-cake-with-caramel-custard/
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us, you cake looks amazing! Be sure to check out an alternative to using the creamer. ~Amy

  3. SpanishEyesAnne

    I SO want to try this, but am staying away from the store bought flavored creamers since so many of them are non-dairy and hurt my stomach. I found some recipes for home-made versions (one combines milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla). Would that work in the place of the store bought variety?
    Also, would your Golden Vanilla Pound Cake be a good cake to use for this?
    Please check out our baker’s tips for an alternative to the creamer on our recipe page. ~Amy

  4. Rockycat

    Did you, by any chance, work out the proportions of milk and sugar (and maybe pumpkin) that one would use if one weren’t using flavored coffee creamer? One of the reasons I bake from scratch is to avoid additives and artificial flavorings. I wouldn’t put artificial creamers in my coffee. I certainly won’t put them in my home baking.
    Other than that issue, I can see this being a great recipe to make with my kid’s class for Thanksgiving.
    There isn’t a need for pumpkin in this recipe, though if you wanted to add the flavor without using the creamer, you could use our pumpkin flavoring. Please note this alternative to using the creamer in our baker’s tips on the recipe page. ~Amy

  5. jacook29

    OMG, I love you. That oven-bottom pic is something I’ve managed to do more than once in my 70+ years, lol. Pumpkin flavor is not really my favorite, but you inspired me to try making a cake bread-pudding, using the Mexican vanilla flavoring I just received from KAF. Awesome.

  6. solsken

    You know, if you didn’t stale it and didn’t want to use it fresh, why not just toast the cake in the oven?
    I was reading something on Cooks Illustrated where they tested bread puddings – staled by leaving out overnight or in oven – and they said in the oven was superior.

  7. poemlover

    Flavored coffee creamers come in both powdered and liquid forms. I assumed you’re intending the liquid form for this recipe, but it would be good to specify which type of creamer in the list of ingredients.
    Sorry for the confusion. Yes, the recipe is calling for liquid creamer. ~Amy

  8. onlinepastrychef

    I am detecting a theme with all these comments. Honestly, KA is known for scratch baking, and it makes me sad when I see crazy ingredients like non-dairy creamer used in otherwise solid and creative recipes.

    And of course the alternative to using it is half and half with a bit of sugar to taste. Because that’s what the creamer was made to replace to begin with. :)

  9. glpruett

    Wow, PJ, we’re really hitting you hard with the statements that we WON’T use non-dairy creamer in our home-baked goods, aren’t we? As I read this blog, I liked the idea of the “Easy Pudding Cake”, but I’ll admit that you almost lost me with the photo of those non-dairy creamers right at the beginning! I had already started thinking about what I would use to substitute (real milk, real sugar, real flavoring), when I saw your suggestion for a substitute…real milk or half-and-half, real sugar!!!

    All five comments before mine complain about the use of non-dairy creamer, and now mine does too! I guess we’re just trying to tell you that there’s a reason we bake from scratch, and we won’t use a plastic food in that baking! Now, I’ll get off my soapbox and go get some gingerbread started this afternoon, perfect for our rainy Ohio afternoon! Thanks for the flexible idea of the Easy Pudding Cake!

  10. acielenski

    Perfect timing! I have recently been thinking about bread pudding (which I normally make with Rasin Bread), but a cake version is so tempting it may push me to bake sooner.

  11. loquilter

    I know it’s already been said, but I just have to add my dismay about the non-dairy creamer in this recipe. Seriously people? This is just wrong on so many levels. First of all, you’re dealing with people who can bake and secondly, I'[m guessing that your clientele is concerned with healthy food choices. Please no more such shortcuts.

  12. victorias

    I was really surprised and disappointed to see flavored, nondairy creamer in the ingredient listing. KAF stands for good quality ingredients (“never bleached, never bromated”) and promotes the quality products of Vermont’s dairy farmers. I am not a food purist -I have a jar of Biscoff in my pantry, and love cinnamon chips in my scones, but these are items for which there is no “natural” substitute. I don’t see how using nondairy creamer makes this treat more delicious OR easier. I’m all for convenience, but let’s not forget why we bake at home in the first place: to make more delicious, less processed foods for the people we care about. Thanks for all the delicious recipes you’ve developed over the years, and please skip the nondairy creamer in the future.

    Victoria, all of us bake for different reasons; for some, it’s about the flavor of homemade baked goods plus convenience, as much as using less-processed foods. So I do like to throw in the “fewer ingredients” recipe every now and then. I appreciate where you’re coming from; and realistically, I’d guess you’ll never see another coffee creamer recipe here again. But I do like to go in all different directions, to try to include as many folks out there – with all their differing wants and needs – as possible. Thanks so much for adding your input here – much appreciated! PJH

  13. diane a. in Mexico

    the best parts of baking are the KAF blogs.
    I too am a food purist but it’s the hidden ingredients that scare me. So, for example, when I am in the States I use coffeemate to avoid the HGH in dairy! Go figure! I made your recipe using 1/4 cup of my precious Hazelnut Coffeemate powder, 2 cups (local) cream, half a grated piloncillo (brown sugar), 3 eggs, lots of cinnamon and Pumpkin Pie Spice, on some stale kind-of-heavy rye-whole wheat bread. I topped it with a dollop of Nutella and, of course, cheese.
    Thanks P.J. for revitalizing traditional capirotada. and keep exploring. When you fall off the edge of the known world, there are lots of us to catch you.

    “When you fall off the edge…” Diane, I LOVE that! Thanks so much for connecting here, for trying the recipe – and for your support. :) PJH

  14. "elianna m"

    I wouldn’t make it every day.

    But once in a few months, for the full flavor…

    …I could bring myself to put that much chemical in a homemade recipe.

    I understand that the point is for the easy blend of flavorings. And I appreciate that! It’s creative! And very easily modified.

    Thank you for the recipe – and thank you for being brave enough to post it. :)

  15. rochelle_keefer

    Yum! I’m really excited to try this. I made a terrible bread pudding a few years ago and have avoided such things since, but with cake, I might survive! And the coffee creamer is a great idea if you want to play with some unique flavors. I just bought cinnamon sugar cookie creamer and saw praline pecan too… And since the creamer I buy is lactose free I can make it for my lactose-intolerant family members with a substitution of soy milk for the rest. They will appreciate a creamy dessert the next time they visit. Thanks!

  16. Karen

    I love the idea! I will probably try this. I doubt we will die from using some coffee creamer in a recipe once in awhile. I appreciate your creativity on all the angles. Some don’t have the time to be a “food purist”. I usually have the time but I still like to take some shortcuts in a pinch. Lighten up people ; )

  17. Helen

    This is a great recipe, making it for thanksgiving. I myself am not at all a food purists (i love the super chemically microwave pot pies the best!) and i think it was a great way to reach out to those who use everyday ingredients! I love pumpkin, and gingerbread, and bread pudding and this makes it very easy to make with things i have around the house. Dont be discouraged by those who refuse to use such ingredients because the majority of us laymans out there buy whatever is cheapest!

  18. Eva

    Does anyone else see a dog with his mouth open in that top right photo? Was that intentional?

    That was completely by chance, Eva! How funny! I just noticed it myself. Just a random liquid-to-dry mixture moment of luck! Kim@KAF


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