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Cranberry-Pumpkin Pudding Cake

Cranberry-Pumpkin Pudding Cake

A simple to make pudding cake using the classic fall dessert combo of pumpkin and cranberries.

~by Regan Jones, RD

I am fascinated with pudding cakes. They're not something you see on the average restaurant menu, and I don't know that I've been served one very often in friends' homes. But they are the perfect go-to quick and easy dessert and because of their formulaic versatility, lend themselves to a host of different flavors.

My first experience with the pudding cake was years ago when I worked in the test kitchen at Oxmoor House. We tested a Brown Sugar Pudding Cake for The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Since then I've done multiple variations of that recipe, all with great success. 

If you're not familiar with a pudding cake, first, don't be misled by the name. This is NOT a cake that uses a pudding mix in the cake. It's a cake that forms a pudding layer on the bottom (cool, huh?) It's a simple cake batter, poured into a dish and then topped with boiling water (no stirring).

Once baked the boiling water magically combines with a portion of the batter to make this thick rich sauce on the bottom of the pan. It's like having a cake with a sauce... but the sauce is already in the pan. Love it.

And here's another cool tidbit... since pudding cakes need the water & batter to combine to yield a sauce, they don't use eggs. I love eggs, for sure... but sometimes it's nice to craft a dessert without them (oh how I hate waking in the morning ready for scrambled eggs only to realize that last night's dessert stole my last one!)

The bottom line is this: Pudding cakes are humble and simple... the sort of dish you think of late in the day when your sweet tooth aches just a bit. The same can be said about canned pumpkin... humble and always ready for the brief whirlwind of recipe frenzy that surrounds it. My promise to the pudding cake and pumpkin -- with this new recipe, I promise it won't be another 365 before we meet again. 


Cranberry-Pumpkin Pudding Cake


Cranberry-Pumpkin Pudding Cake

Cranberry-Pumpkin Pudding Cake


Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (about 1/2 of a can)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine next 3 ingredients (through buttermilk); add to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared dish. 
  3. Pour boiling water over batter (do not stir). Bake at 400 degrees F for 35 minutes or until golden and top of cake is firm. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving (Dessert will be saucy at bottom of dish but will thicken as it stands.) 

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Regan Jones is the Founding Editor and Sponsorship Director of HealthyAperture and is the author of the QUICK FIX KITCHEN Feature - a collection of recipes that focuses on shortcut cooking without shortcut taste. Her recipes largely focus on baked goods and desserts ranging from gluten free to sugar free to slightly indulgent eats for the entire family, but also include easy everyday recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Jones is a registered dietitian and owner the web's most prominent portfolio of dietitian-owned websites, including,, and She is also the host of the podcast, This Unmillennial Life, which was recently named New & Noteworthy on iTunes.
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