Monday, August 20, 2007

Malva Pudding Recipe

Malva Pudding with Apricot Jam and Gazanias

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
Serves 6-8

1 heaped tablespoon butter
3 heaped tablespoons apricot jam
1 egg
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.


  1. uh! oh! even better! I've always loved the combination of a tart apricot and dark chocolate... does it remind me of sachertorte? maybe... but this recipe looks like it's sooo much better! thanks for this and of course i'll accept two entries!

  2. I've never heard of Malva pudding before. Now I'm wondering what desserts qualify as a local sweets where I live. Somehow I don't think that Smarties and Coffee Crisp chocolate bars are the same thing.

  3. Oh that sounds sooooo yummy!!! I've never heard of it, but with that list of ingredients it has to be good!!! It sure looks tasty!!

  4. just realised that there isn't any chocolate in the pudding at all... i could have sworn there was, looking at the picture. hm, i bet it's just as good, though. i made loads of apricot jam this summer, so will try this out for sure!

  5. Yum! I am a sucker for a baked pudding, and this one sounds great with the apricot jam. I will have to try this soon.

  6. Mmmmm. Malvapudding! It's one of those fab SA standbys that you can't possibly dislike. I made asynpoeding earlier this year which is similar and loved it. Malva is still on my list though (and I agree with Herschelian about the etymology of the word).

    Now you have made me hungry for pudding at this ungodly hour of the night ! ;-)

  7. That name and pudding is new to me. It looks delicious! I love such baked goods...

  8. Just found this recipe thanks to google. I may veganise this dish using your recipe as a base.

  9. I went to a posh cape town hotel and had a traditional cape malay meal. The food was superb but what a dissapointment there malva pudding was. I make a much better one than they do

  10. Hi Kit,

    Great blog, I like this passion for SA (I love this contry, culture and food too)

    I have a question about malva poedding
    Got a very nice recipe from my mother in law (same kind of your),
    and since I'm back in europe backed it 4 times
    1 time too much caramel tast
    2 time perfect!!
    but these too last time the sirop doesn't go inside the cake
    so it's dry and not so goed.

    did you already have this problem?
    is it to much soda (I put less than the receip the 2 first times)
    or to much cook (waiting that the top become medium-brown = +/- 40min)

    Baie dankie for your answer


  11. Hi Corinne, I'm not sure exactly why the sauce wouldn't soak in.

    First of all it must be poured on as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, while still hot.

    If it has baked too long, that could dry it out, but you could then try piercing a few holes in the top with a skewer to help the sauce soak in.

    Good luck with your next one!

  12. Corinne
    The dish has to be covered after you add the sauce otherwise it will not soak in properly.
    Hope this helps.
    Shirley L-S

  13. Erm.. just remembered that you have to bake the cake in a covered dish otherwise the sauce won't be absorbed.

  14. Its a very wonderful recipe..I enjoyed this when I was in SA..when I tried at home the taste,texture,flavor everything cam out good but not the color..I dont know where I went wrong.can someone help me with this?

  15. I am South African and grew up with malva pudding. My mother never coveres the pudding when she bakes it. She will cover it with foil after she poured on the sauce and put it back in the oven to keep it warm while we enjoy our meal. Covering the pudding while baking might prevent it from browning. I never use cream in the sauce, I replace it with 2 cups of milk.

  16. The colour isnt from the baking, its a reaction. you can actually see it happen in the oven. Well yes the heat makes it happen but not in the conventional sence. My mom makes it all the time, and its always covered while in the over i tried it without a cover , and it didnt even go brown all the way through.

  17. I think someone is using your Malva Pudding picture without your consent:

  18. THanks Patty for letting me know, I've contacted them.

    Thanks everyone else for your help with the browning/covering dilemma. I always cover mine and it does seem to brown beautifully.

  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. Thanks for sharing. I've been staying in SA and malva pudding is just about my fave dessert!

    I want to try and make it myself. How many decilitres do you reckon a cup equals? Where I come from we do not use cups to measure when making cake... Thank you:)

  21. Hi Sigrid,
    A cup is 250 mililitres.
    1 cup of flour is just over 100g.
    1 cup of sugar about 220g
    according to the conversion chart I just looked at.
    Enjoy it!

  22. Thank you so much Kit! The malva pudding turned out great, all my friends loved it!

    Do you happen to have any recipes for boerewors too?

  23. Hi Kit,

    thank you fot the recipe.
    My husband an I came back to Germany 4 weeks ago after and very enjoyable and fantastic journey to SouthAfrica. We love it!
    At Chapmans Peak Drive Hotel & Restaurant I have tried my first Malva Pudding ever and I loved it so much. Tomorrow my parents in law will visit us to have a SouthAfrican evening with all our stories and photos and therefore I was looking for a good recipe of the Malva Pudding. Yours sounds great and I just have done a note of the ingredients for shopping right now. Thank you so much!
    greetings from Germany,

  24. I just made it thanks

  25. Thanks for your recipe - I am about to make it in cold New York with the slight fiddle of a teaspoon of vinegar. My malva-origin search was probably similar to yours, and very interesting. I guess the Malvesy wine link is the best bet, but I will still make this - back in Cape Town! - flavoured with kusmalva, the local pelargonium :-)

    I did meet Dave Pepler (whose mother Maggie seems to have made malva pudding popular via Boschendal) through the search, and that was quite worth it

  26. Never heard of malva pudding but will be making it this w/e. Your blog is beautiful, makes me want to go to s africa...

  27. Sorry but for me did not work on 30 minuten...i had to give 45 min instead, it was complete wet in the middle! I'm waiting richt now for the final results!

  28. How successful is freezing this for a short time, thanks

  29. Hi Shirley, I haven't tried freezing it, but I should think it would work fine. Let me know, if you do try it.


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