Malva Pudding Recipe
Some of you gave such a rapturous reception to the crustless milk tart recipe that I thought I'd try out another of my sister-in-law's recipes for this typical South African pudding as a contribution to Johanna's hosting of Sugar High Friday. The theme is local sweet specialities.
As an English girl transplanted to South Africa I've done a fair bit of transplanting and dissemination of some of my native recipes but have also adopted plenty of local specialities, in particular buttermilk rusks which I try to have always on hand in case of emergencies ... like a cup of tea needing something to dunk in it. Recently I've been expanding my culinary repertoire and trying out a few more classic South African dishes from my sister-in-law's generous recipe book - I might not have managed to get my tongue around Afrikaans in the five years we've been here, but I'm enjoying learning a new dialect of baking.
Almost every restaurant in Cape Town has Malva Pudding on its dessert menu. It is one of those ubiquitous dishes that one has to side-step diplomatically, as a tour manager organising menus for a week of dinners for clients on walking holidays. If you're not careful you could end up with a gastronomic tour of Cape Town's Malva Puddings! That's not to say that it is not a good choice. It is rich, delicious and indulgent and has to be tasted at least once on a gourmet tour of Cape Town. Along with many other traditional South African dishes it gives a nod to the Netherlands for its origins. Essentially a rather homely baked cakey pudding, its restaurant version soaks itself in a rich, creamy sauce to take on a mantle of decadence, while elegant versions serve themselves up with a few poached apricots alongside too.
No-one seems to know where the name Malva pudding came from - suggestions range from a traditional accompaniment of Malvasia wine, a heavy dessert wine, to a woman named Malva creating it back in the mists of time. In my quest for enlightenment I stumbled upon this fellow searcher, who tells it all so well and though far more persistent and enterprising in her research got no further than I did.
I tried out my sister-in-law's recipe to make a dessert to follow our Sunday lunch of roast chicken and roast potatoes. Hers is a home version rather than restaurant one and gives details for the cake without drenching it in the creamy sauce. It produces a comforting cross-between steamed pudding and cake, with a tantalising hint of the apricot jam that flavours it and a pleasing, almost caramelly overtone. It is served warm with custard and cream alongside and is reminiscent of the best sort of English comfort food, perfect for a family winter lunch. Leaving out the stage of drenching it with the sauce makes it a lot less rich and calorific, but does mean that you can eat a lot more of it! If I were making it to impress and indulge guests I would probably choose the rich version with the sauce, so I'll give that to you as well.
Malva Pudding Recipe
1 heaped tablespoon butter
3 heaped tablespoons apricot jam
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg and jam and beat together. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately and stir into the mixture. Pour the batter into a greased round dish approx 21cm / 8 inches. Cover either with a lid or tinfoil and bake at 180C / 375F for 30 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer comes out clean. Serve warm with custard and cream.
If you would like to try the rich and more traditional version of Malva Pudding, and I think it should be done once in a while, here is a recipe for the sauce to drench it in as soon as it leaves the oven.
1 cup cream
4oz / 100g butter
½ cup sugar
60 ml hot water.
Warm together the ingredients until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved and pour over the pudding as it comes out of the oven. You can prick holes in the top to help the sauce soak in.
With the sauce incorporated into the Malva pudding you hardly need anything else to accompany it, the cream being already inside! Just for appearances sake though you might like to serve it with a conservative dollop of vanilla ice cream, or a few poached apricots and a drizzle of cream. The other compromise is to reserve some of the sauce to serve alongside the pudding rather than letting the whole amount soak in.
Several recipes that I found while researching the origins of malva pudding used a lot less apricot jam than this one, but I liked the amount of flavour that it gave, still subtle but definitely apricot. I used our home made apricot jam, which is just about lasting out the year until the next apricot season. I like that it connects the pudding to the things that are plentiful in this land, apricots loading the trees in November and positively demanding that you make jam with them to conserve this abundance for the rest of the year.