This cake is magical. It’s half pudding/custard and half cake. You make one simple pudding sauce. Then you make one simple cake batter. Pour the the sauce and batter into a baking pan (or several for individual desserts, as photographed above). Allow them to bake for 25 minutes….and poof!
When you pull it out of the oven, it’s half pudding, half cake. A pudding-cake!
This recipe is absolutely delicious. The smooth and custardy vanilla bean sauce lines the bottom of the cake, creating a layer of vanilla flecked custard. Meanwhile, the top bakes into a plump vanilla sponge. You’re greeted with an amazing vanilla flavor, full of both vanilla bean and vanilla extract. This is the dessert to make for the vanilla lovers in your life.
My husband is French and a while ago he mentioned that I didn’t make many vanilla desserts. As a baker enthusiast, I immediately internalized that offhand comment as a challenge to make as many as I could. I absolutely love vanilla — as most Americans do. I think we’ve been conditioned as a society to love it, as it’s added in many of our every day items from our milks and yogurts to our lattes, and cereals to enhance flavor.
While actual vanilla is actually quite an investment now, I can assure you that this recipe is worthy of the amount of vanilla that is calls for. It is present it both the sponge cake and the custard and it’s important to use a good quality pure vanilla to really get that flavor profile. (It’s insane how many vanilla’s on the market are actually not vanilla at all. It’s sort of like honey. You have to be careful to buy the real thing because most grocery stores give you fake options for a cheaper price). You can buy real vanilla bean pods online or at most health stores or grocery stores in the spice aisle, near the vanilla extract. It’s costly but when you learn more about how vanilla grows and the process of getting it to us, it makes it justifies the price. HERE is more about vanilla in general. I like to keep pure vanilla extract (in bulk for all my baking projects) on hand. As well as a smaller jar of vanilla bean paste (for when I want the vanilla bean flecks to show) and vanilla bean pods (for when I want the vanilla bean flecks to show and the flavor to dominate).
You can enjoy this cake in fancy little individual servings for your guests or want to make it in one pan for family-style. Enjoy!
Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake
Half pudding, half cake. This recipe is magic! The vanilla bean custard sauce lines the bottom of the cake and the top bakes into a plump vanilla sponge. It’s like sticky pudding but not sticky, instead smooth and custardy. Full of vanilla bean and vanilla extract, this cake is for the vanilla lovers in your life.
- 1 tbsp. Cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups Whole milk (divided)
- 5 tbsp. Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla bean paste (vanilla beans scraped from one pod or vanilla extract work too)
- 1/8 tsp. Salt
- 1 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1 Egg
- 3/4 cup Milk (any kind)
- 3 tbsp. Butter (melted)
- 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease 8” baking pan or eight 8-ounce ramekins.
To make the pudding, combine cornstarch and 2 tbsp. of the milk in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Add the remaining milk, sugar, and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan or evenly between the ramekins (if using ramekins, place on parchment lined rimmed cookie sheet).
To make the cake, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla to the melted butter and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix just until combined. Pour the batter into the pan over the pudding. If using ramekins, divide the batter evenly among each. Don't worry if it looks weird, it will bake normally.
Bake the cake(s) for 25 minutes (for each size), or until the center has set. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and serve warm. Top with fresh fruit, ice cream or whipped cream. Serve with coffee.
- The custard sauce on the bottom will be thinner if served immediately. The longer is sits, the thicker is becomes.
- If using just vanilla extract, you will lose the vanilla bean flecks in the custard cake.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.