Puddings are nothing if not versatile -- flavors run the gamut and textures range from a fluffy mousse to a thick custard. Likewise, you can prepare pudding by boiling, steaming or, yes, baking. You can bake all sorts of different puddings -- including chocolate, rice and lemon varieties, for example -- but cooking pudding in the oven tends to create a creamy interior with a spongy exterior.
Preheat your oven between 325 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the size of your baking dish. Go with a higher temperature for a larger dish or if you want the pudding to have crispy edges.
Mix the pudding in a medium-size bowl, combining the ingredients with an electric mixer, until the pudding has a soft, velvety texture. For chocolate pudding, blend eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, flour and butter, or for rice pudding, blend milk, sugar, salt eggs and raisins. Accent the pudding with ingredients such as vanilla, nutmeg, espresso, raisins or chopped nuts.
Add hot water to a large baking pan and set a smaller, greased baking dish down in it, so that the water comes about halfway up the side of the dish. Fold the pudding mix evenly into the dish and place the pan and dish in the preheated oven.
Bake the pudding for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on quantity and desired consistency. Baking pudding longer creates a cake-like texture, while baking it for a shorter time results in a softer, mousse-style pudding. Test the baked pudding with a toothpick -- the toothpick should come out clean when the dish is done. The top of the pudding should be somewhat firm and lightly browned, while its center should have the consistency of an undercooked cake.