You know those recipes
that you forget you like, those dishes that go unmade for months and even years without a thought as if hibernating somewhere in a cozy den of lost recipes? Suddenly you’ll visit an old place or spend time with a family member or celebrate a familiar occasion and the food memories will come rushing back to you, reemerging on the surface of everything. Pudding cakes are like that for me. I hadn’t made one in years. But I still love them as much as I ever did, with their magical mix of textures and the way the cakes often sauce themselves. I love how unsophisticated they are, how simple, how messy.
Speaking of messy, the most memorable pudding cake I ever made was for my now 13 year old son’s first birthday. It was a gingerbread pudding cake for the December occasion, a sticky warm dessert full of molasses and cloves, topped with whipped cream. When the pictures had been snapped and the candle blown out, he devoured it by the fistful, smearing it gleefully all over his face and steel blue winter
sweater with penguin appliqué and matching knit beanie I bought from Gymboree.
The other night when my wife and I had a strong hankering for chocolate after two long days of travel, out of nowhere I remembered my affection for pudding cake. I was able to whip it up quickly with ingredients I already had on hand in my otherwise rather empty kitchen which had gone dormant during our holiday vacation. The thing that makes pudding cakes like these so wonderfully gooey is that hot water is poured on top of the cake batter just before baking. You allow the water to sit on top and don’t mix it in. As the cake bakes, the water drops to the bottom of the cake, becoming a sauce, almost like a thin pudding or hot fudge. Have some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on hand to scoop on top of the warm cake. If you have any leftovers remaining, this dessert keeps well covered in the refrigerator and reheats beautifully.