From-Scratch Vanilla Pudding Cake – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Easy as can be, this from-scratch vanilla pudding cake is incredibly delicious and the perfect simple dessert for entertaining…or just because you want vanilla pudding cake in your life.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

Oh, pudding cake, how I love thee.

Considering I already have a lemon, apple cider, hot fudge, and hot fudge peanut butter slow cooker pudding cake, it was high time I got working on a classic vanilla (yellow cake) pudding cake.

This simple vanilla pudding cake was a test in patience (and self-control). It took several variations for it to be safe (read: won’t overflow in your oven) and perfect.

Of course, the resulting “fails” were readily gobbled up by me and my crew. We are not exclusionary when it comes to pudding cakes, failed or not.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

For this vanilla pudding cake, a simple sweet, creamy mixture is mixed and heated (to thicken just slightly) and poured into the prepared pan.

Although a little unnerving to do, but common to pudding cakes, the from-scratch cake batter is quickly mixed and poured over the top of the puddle of pudding in the pan.

That cake batter is going to sink right into the pudding. It will feel weird to undertake this illogical action, especially if you’ve never made a pudding cake before, but stay strong…all will be well in the end.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

With scientific principles rooted in things I don’t quite understand but believe it has something to do with ingredient density, as this delectable concoction bakes, the heavier ingredients (milk and cream and sugar) hang out in a delicious lake of silky vanilla pudding at the bottom while the lighter cake ingredients rise to the top.

It’s ok if little geysers of pudding form around the edges of the pudding cake. For the most part, the pudding will stay on the bottom and the cake on the top, and the whole amazing combination will complete your pudding cake loving soul.

And if it doesn’t, I suppose we can still be friends, but I generally try to surround myself with those who love pudding cake as much as I do.

I’m all about well-functioning friendships like that.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

We serve this vanilla pudding cake with fresh berries most of the time, and when we feel especially indulgent, we add a dollop of lightly sweetened, whipped cream.

But honestly, one of the times when the cake decided to be naughty and not work out (I believe it was due to an incorrect ratio of pudding to cake and it was a little soupy), we let it cool a little (read: not at all) and dug right in without any adornments.

And it was incredibly satisfying and delicious, even despite the scorching our tongues and top of mouths endured. So, you know, maybe let it cool a little before grabbing a spoon.

Volcanic, bubbling pudding is something one should take very seriously and approach in a safe manner.

I hereby promise to take it more seriously in the future. Where oh where is the rolling eyes emoji when I need it?

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

You can see how the cake will to rise up to the top of the pan while baking and then fall once it is removed from the oven and cools. Don’t panic. All is as it should be.

The best pan to use for this cake is a glass, Pyrex-style 9X13-inch pan, but you can see from the pictures that a ceramic pan will also work.

Pudding cake certainly isn’t the prettiest or most well-presented dessert on the planet, but my goodness, who cares when it tastes like this?

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Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

I’ve made the pudding layer successfully in the microwave as well. In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk until the mixture is lump-free and smooth. Add the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and salt. Cook for 2-minute intervals in the microwave, whisking in between. In my microwave, it takes about 12 minutes total (so six intervals) to bubble and thicken slightly.

I am not a high altitude baking expert and usually avoid weighing in on high altitude baking tips, but because this cake rises right to the top of the baking pan and several of you have commented over the years that your cakes at high altitude sometimes overflow, I’d suggest adding a few extra tablespoons of flour to the batter as a precaution.



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a glass 9X13-inch baking pan. Set the baking pan on a larger, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. For the pudding, in a medium saucepan (see note above for microwave directions), whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk until the mixture is lump-free and smooth. Add the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and salt.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes; it will thicken slightly (it will still be fairly runny but should be thicker than when the ingredients were cold). Stir in the vanilla and butter until the butter is melted.
  4. Pour the pudding mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. For the cake, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  6. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.
  7. Whisk just until combined – don’t overmix. It’s ok if the batter is slightly lumpy.
  8. Pour the batter in a steady stream across the pudding in the prepared pan – the cake batter will sink into the pudding, that’s ok! Just try to pour the batter as evenly as possible over the pudding layer.
  9. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges and top of the cake are set with bubbling pudding underneath (some of the pudding may bubble up and over the edges of the cake; that’s ok). Add additional time as needed. The cake will rise very close to the top of the baking pan while baking; after it is removed from the oven it will fall and settle a bit.
  10. Serve warm with fresh berries or whipped cream.


Printed from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (

Recipe Source: adapted quite a bit from the Fall 2016 Sift Magazine from King Arthur Flour

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