Traditional Recipes: Malva Pudding

28 November, 2023

A delicious sweet treat called Malva Pudding has become a staple in many South African families. It offers an incomparable taste that reflects the diverse influences on the country’s culinary landscape. Today we will share our mouthwatering recipe that you can use for your next family gathering!

P.S. Read the article till the end to find out: why is it called MALVA pudding?

Some facts about Malva Pudding we bet you didn’t know

  • Malva Pudding has its roots in Dutch colonial cuisine.
  • Over the years, the recipe evolved with the influence of Cape Malay cuisine. The addition of apricot jam, a common ingredient in Cape Malay dishes, contributes to the unique flavour profile of Malva Pudding.
  • Malva Pudding became a beloved homely dessert, often served at Sunday lunches and family gatherings. Its warm, comforting nature makes it a perfect treat for sharing.
  • Malva Pudding is often served with a generous drizzle of custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The contrast between the hot, gooey pudding and the coolness of the custard or ice cream adds to the sensory delight.
  • In 2011, Malva Pudding was featured as one of the desserts in an episode of the popular television series “MasterChef Australia.” This exposure further elevated the dessert’s status both locally and internationally.
  • To celebrate this beloved dessert, some enthusiasts have unofficially declared the 10th of June as “Malva Pudding Day.” It’s a day for people to share their favourite variations and recipes.

Traditional Recipes: Malva Pudding

How to make Malva Pudding

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Difficulty level: easy
Number of servings: 6

You’ll need:
For the sponge: 250 ml sugar
2 eggs
30 ml apricot jam
30 ml butter
5 ml vinegar
125 ml milk
310 ml cake flour
5 ml soda
1 ml salt

For the cream sauce:
250 ml heavy cream
125 ml butter
125 ml brown sugar
125 ml water
5 ml vanilla essence


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, while whisking the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the apricot jam.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter, add milk and vinegar. At the same time, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the liquids. (If the combination of milk and vinegar seems strange to you, don’t worry: when combined with baking soda, the vinegar reacts, causing oxygen bubbles to form which results in a fluffy cake).
  3. Pour the mixture into the butter-greased baking form.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes at 180ºC until the top gets a golden crust. (You can check the readiness with a wooden skewer — it should come out clean and dry).
  5. While the sponge cake is in the oven, let’s prepare the cream sauce. Bring the butter, heavy cream, milk, sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. If desired, you can add your favourite spices like cinnamon, star anise or any spicy liqueur.
  6. When the cake is ready, transfer it to a clean, dry pan, pour in the creamy sauce and leave to soak. Some of the sauce should be saved for serving.
  7. When served, Malva Pudding is usually topped with the remaining sauce and garnished with fruit, berries or mint sprigs and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Traditional Recipes: Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding: Tips and tricks

— Serve the pudding warm to fully appreciate its gooey texture.
— Experiment with variations by adding nuts or dried fruit to the batter.
— For a citrusy twist, add a splash of orange zest to the batter.

So why is it called MALVA pudding?

There are two theories about the origin of the name Malva. According to the first and most famous one, the pudding is named Malva because of the similar Afrikaans word “Malvalekker” which means marshmallow. The dessert has a sweet taste and soft, fluffy texture. The alternative theory is that the pudding used to be served exclusively with Malvasia wine from the Portuguese island of Madeira, hence the name Malva.

Malva Pudding is more than just a dessert: it’s a cultural symbol that brings people together through shared moments of sweetness. We hope you’ll try out our recipe and fall in love with this South African delight!

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