Delicious Vanilla Pudding Cake [From Scratch]

Vanilla Pudding Cake Is Actually Easy To Make!

Want to make a pudding cake from scratch? Don’t be scared – we’ve got a vanilla pudding recipe that anyone can pull off!

Made from a yeast dough (classic in other German cakes), this pudding cake recipe is topped with a layer of vanilla pudding and sweet crumbs – known as streusel!

This vanilla pudding cake goes really well with coffee or tea – and makes for a nice sweet cake to serve to guests… or just enjoy on your own!

vanilla pudding cake with crumbs on plate and cake tray in behind
Vanilla pudding cake – with all the layers!

Pudding cake is a pretty popular modification of the classic German Streuselkuchen (crumb cake). So this is a recipe that Lisa has enjoyed many times growing up in Germany – and there are quite a few variations of it (sometimes pudding cake is not even made with yeast dough).

If you have your heart set on a cake with pudding, you might also want to check out popular German Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake).

Recipe Tips/Substitutions

Before you set out to tackle this vanilla pudding cake recipe, here are a few recipe tips and considerations to know about:

  • Since this dough is made with yeast, first check that your yeast is still good and hasn’t expired yet. Expired yeast might keep the dough from rising.
  • Also, make sure that the milk is warm (not hot!) and that the egg and butter are at room temperature when adding them to the dough.
  • Instead of instant dry yeast, you can also use active dry yeast. Just make sure to dissolve it in some warm milk first and let it sit for around 10 minutes until it starts to active (it’ll bubble slightly). Then add the milk with the yeast at the step you’d add the normal milk (just make sure you don’t add more than 2/3 cup milk total).
  • You can make the vanilla pudding from a package or you can make pudding from scratch. Just make sure that the pudding has cooled before spreading it onto the cake.
  • Be sure to use a baking pan with high sides or else the pudding can run over the edge in the oven and create a sticky mess which would not be fun to clean up.
pieces of vanilla pudding cake on plate with cake in pan behind
Nothing like a few crumbs and pudding to make a cake amazing!

How to Make Vanilla Pudding Cake – Step by Step Instructions

To make this yummy vanilla pudding cake, you can check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

If you want to follow the recipe step by step visually, you can find the pudding cake process photos in this section.

This way, if you have any questions about the recipe, you have photos to see how we did each step of the way!

mug of warm milk on counter top
Heat the milk.

First, heat the milk in a mug in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove. It should be warm but not hot or boiling as this might harm the yeast bacteria.

yeast and flour in silver mixing bowl on counter
Add flour and yeast to a mixing bowl.

Next, place the flour and instant dry yeast into a large mixing bowl.

silver mixing bowl filled with cake ingredients and black electric mixer with dough hooks in bowl
Add the sugar and milk.

Then also add the sugar and the lukewarm milk. Briefly knead the ingredients in the bowl with the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer.

pudding cake ingredients like egg and butter in silver mixing bowl on counter
Add the butter, egg, vanilla extract, and salt.

Next, add the vanilla extract, soft butter, egg, and a pinch of salt.

ball of dough in silver mixing bowl
Shape the dough into a ball.

Keep kneading the dough for another 5 minutes until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.

Use your hands to form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. If it is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. If the dough is a little too dry/crumbly, add a little more milk.

Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or lid and place a towel or a lid. Place the bowl in a warm spot without a draft to allow the dough to rise for one hour.

In the meantime, prepare the pudding according to packaging directions. You can also make your own pudding by using our recipe linked above or in the recipe card below.

silver baking pan lined with butter and flour
Grease and flour your baking pan.

When the hour is almost up, prepare your baking pan (a normal baking sheet won’t work!) by lining it with parchment paper or by lightly greasing and flouring it.

Our baking pan has a size of 13.5 x 9.5 inches – slightly smaller or slightly bigger ones will work as well. It’s important that you use a baking pan with higher sides since the pudding cake can get messy in the oven otherwise.

risen ball of cake dough in silver mixing bowl
The dough after sitting for an hour.

Once the dough has increased in size noticeably, remove it from the bowl.

ball of pudding cake dough on counter with flour around
Knead the dough.

prinkle your countertop with a little bit of flour and briefly knead the dough with your hands.

rolled out pudding cake dough on counter top
Roll out the dough.

Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin to fit the size of your baking pan.

pudding cake dough in silver baking pan on counter
Place the dough into the baking pan.

Once you’ve rolled the dough to size, place it into the baking pan. Let it rest for another 15 minutes.

butter and sugar and flour in clear mixing bowl on counter
Add the ingredients to a bowl.

While you wait, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, prepare the streusel for the topping. First, placing the butter, sugar, and flour into a bowl.

cake sweet crumbs in clear glass bowl on counter
Knead the ingredients until you have small crumbs.

Then, quickly knead the ingredients with your hands and press them together lightly until small crumbs form. Set the bowl aside.

cake with vanilla pudding on top in silver pan on counter
Spread the pudding onto the dough.

Once the 15 minutes are up, evenly spread the cold pudding onto the dough using a spatula or spoon.

crumbs placed on pudding cake in silver baking pan
Add the streusel.

Then place the streusel on top of the pudding layer.

baked vanilla pudding cake with crumbs in silver baking pan
Let the baked cake cool before cutting it.

Bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven for around 35-45 minutes until it is fully cooked and the crumbs are lightly golden brown.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool before cutting it.

three pieces of vanilla pudding cake on plate
Look at those vanilla pudding cake layers!

Storage Tips

This vanilla pudding cake from scratch is definitely best enjoyed fresh the day you make it. You can store any leftover pieces in a sealed bag or container in the fridge for 1-2 days.

Usually, we recommend storing yeast cake in a cool and dry place such as the garage or basement, but since this cake contains pudding the fridge is better.

If you know all the pudding cake will not be eaten, you can also freeze it. We sometimes cut pieces, put them in a sealed freezer bag, and freeze them.

However, be aware that frozen and then thawed pudding cake can sometimes get a bit watery and lose some of its taste so we would always recommend eating it fresh and only freezing it if necessary.

To reheat, we usually place one piece of cake on a small plate and put it in the microwave until warmed through. Be careful not to microwave it too long or else the pudding will get too runny and will run off the top!

Alternatively, you can also just leave it out to thaw on the countertop.

FAQ

Can I use cake mix for vanilla pudding cake?

No, cake mix is not suitable for this German pudding cake because the dough is made with yeast.

Related Recipes

For more recipes with a bit of sweetness, try out these classics:

  • Hefezopf – Braided German sweet bread that is enjoyed at Easter time
  • Kaiserschmarrn – Austrian “torn-up pancake” served with sweet jam and/or fruit
  • Homemade Cinnamon Rolls – An easy recipe for Scandinavian sweet rolls
three pieces of vanilla pudding cake on plate

Vanilla Pudding Cake

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Vanilla Pudding Cake is a classic German cake. Made from a soft, yeasty dough, this easy-to-make cake is topped with fresh vanilla pudding and - of course - Streusel crumbs on top!

Ingredients

The Dough

  • 2/3 cup milk, warm
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 medium-sized egg, room temperature

The Topping

  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding (or homemade, see notes)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk for pudding (approximately)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk in a mug in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove. It should be warm but not hot or boiling as this might harm the yeast bacteria.
  2. Add the flour and instant dry yeast to a large mixing bowl. Then also add the sugar and the lukewarm milk. Briefly knead the ingredients in the bowl with the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer.
  3. Next, add the vanilla extract, soft butter, egg, and a pinch of salt. Keep kneading the dough for another 5 minutes until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl and has an elastic consistency. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. If it is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. If the dough is a little too dry/crumbly, add a little more milk.
  4. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel or lid and place a towel or a lid. Place the bowl in a warm spot without a draft to allow the dough to rise for one hour.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the pudding according to packaging directions. You can also make your own pudding with our homemade pudding recipe. Just make sure that it is cool before spreading it on the cake.
  6. When the hour is almost up, prepare your baking pan (a normal baking sheet won't work!) ready by lining it with parchment paper or by lightly greasing and flouring it.
  7. Once the dough has increased in size noticeably, remove it from the bowl. Sprinkle your countertop with a little bit of flour and briefly knead the dough with your hands. Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin to fit the size of your baking pan. Our baking pan has a size of 13.5 x 9.5 inches - slightly smaller or slightly bigger ones will work as well. It's important that you use a baking pan with higher sides since the pudding cake can get messy in the oven otherwise.
  8. Once the dough is rolled to size, place the dough into the baking pan. Let it rest for another 15 minutes.
  9. While you wait, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, prepare the streusel for the topping. First, placing the butter, sugar, and flour into a bowl. Then, quickly knead the ingredients with your hands and press them together lightly until small crumbs form. Set the bowl aside.
  10. Once the 15 minutes are up, evenly spread the cold pudding onto the dough using a spatula or spoon. Then place the streusel on top of the pudding layer.
  11. Bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven for around 35-45 minutes until it is fully cooked and the crumbs are lightly golden brown.
  12. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool before cutting it.

Notes

  • Make sure that the yeast is still good and that the milk, eggs, and butter are warm or room temperature. If ingredients are too cold or too hot the yeast might not rise properly.
  • If the dough hasn't risen after one hour, you can leave it a little longer in its warm place.
  • This type of cake tastes best fresh. So, it should be made the day you plan to enjoy it. However, you can always prepare the dough ahead of time and let it rise overnight in the fridge, and then finish assembling it the next day.
  • For pudding cake, we definitely recommend a deep baking pan with high sides. Otherwise, the pudding might run off the edges and create a sticky mess in the oven.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 104mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 6g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

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