Not Caroline Dumas’ pouding chômeur
This post is a little different than usual, because it’s not about a dangerous food, specifically. But it’s my party and I can veer if I want to.
There was a very interesting story in the news this week, but you foodies outside of Canada might have missed it. On a French–Canadian radio program, one chef accused another of stealing her recipe for pouding chômeur, which is a traditional French recipe I had never tried. They’ve called the whole thing “chômeur gate.” The uproar was that this was a dish well-known to many Quebecers, so how could Caroline Dumas possibly claim ownership of it? The undertone was silly woman, which I am sensing from many news stories I’ve been seeing lately, and I’m not liking it (think anti-vaxers, who of course I strongly disagree with, but I also disagree with the silly housewife undertones).
Anyway, in this case I thought I disagreed with Caroline’s accusation, because plagiarism in cooking is an idea I’ve often struggled with myself. Like, how can someone claim ownership of fettuccini alfredo? Sure, the idea of combining butter, cream, and parm and adding it to pasta probably originated with someone, but now? It’s kind of one of those “public domain” things. Enter Taylor Swift and her trademark of “this sick beat” and “Nice to meet you. Where you been?” Because I typed that, do I have to pay her now? Silly woman.
But then I listened to this radio interview with a Quebecoise food writer, and I was really glad I did, because she said that Caroline Dumas was right. She said that a public radio show may not have been the best place to air her frustration, but that her version of pouding chômeur turned a crappy old recipe into a decadent one. She said that it is becoming common practice in Quebec especially but also elsewhere to publish a recipe as one’s own when the creativity belongs somewhere else, the chef just tweaking one or two ingredients. And you know what? Cooking takes creativity, and being a stellar chef means being innovative, not just being a great curator of recipes. And chefs don’t even care if you make their recipes a hundred times, just as long as they get credit, which I think is pretty generous already. Me, I pride myself on being a strong curator (and I credit the recipe) but when I do come up with something myself, I’m extra proud that it’s mine. Caroline has a right to be pissed that her recipe, completely identical to the one on Danny St–Pierre’s website, as far as I can tell with my broken french, was passed off as his. Apparently before she came along, the topping traditionally used brown sugar and water, while hers blends heavy cream with maple syrup. Can I get a hell yeah?
So last night, I just had to bake pouding chômeur. But it’s my recipe, of course. I had no framboises (raspberries) so it is absolutely nothing like Caroline Dumas’. (Painstakingly translated in Babelfish and paraphrased pour vous)
Not Caroline Dumas’ pouding chômeur
- 2C real maple syrup
- 2C 35% cream
- 1/2C butter, room temperature
- 1C sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2C flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2C milk
Preheat oven to 400. In a heavy saucepan, combine maple syrup and cream, and bring to a boil. Simmer 3-4 minutes and remove from heat. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar, adding the eggs one-at-a-time. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add these to the egg mixture, alternating with milk. Spoon batter into a 13×9 pan or individual dishes and pour syrup mixture over (this part freaked me out a bit, because the batter kind of floats around and does odd things, but it still worked).
Bake for about 30 minutes, until cake is firm to the touch. The cake will rise and sit in a delicious bath of syrup.
I’ve been eating this cake all day. When the syrup gets cold in the fridge it turns into a maple icing that hugs the cake. You can bet I’m going to eat the entire rest of the damn thing. Thanks, Caroline Dumas, for ruining my waistline. I mean, my pouding chômeur ruined my…
Question: What’s your best original recipe?