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Malva Pudding Recipe | Best South African Desert

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Malva pudding is Cape Town’s favourite dessert. It’s the perfect sweet follow-up to a great braai or potjiekos, and feels terrifically celebratory even just as a simple Tuesday treat. It’s also a great way to celebrate a public holiday in South Africa!

If you’ve never had a good malva pudding, you’re probably not based in South Africa. It is, after all, a bit of a staple food here. But not to worry! Even if you’re not based in our beautiful country, you can enjoy its tastes. This recipe, with its extra apricot jam, and simple cream-based sauce, is the best malva pudding recipe I’ve had. And it’s so easy to prepare!

How to make malva pudding

The best way to make it is while having a lot of fun – and if you have a choice in the matter, using your grandma’s kitchen. Disregard the above butter slicing. That’s for another recipe!

One of the best things about Malva pudding is its simplicity. While its rich, toffee-like taste would suggest it requires fancy ingredients or complex baking processes, you’d be surprised! Aside from the cream, malva pudding ingredients are all things you’ll have in your cupboard. And I’ve made this pudding with nothing but a fork and a mug as my baking utensils before. So you know it’s not a difficult one.

Before making your malva poeding, keep in mind that it’s best served warm, after 10-15 minutes to really let the cream sauce soak into the pudding. You’ll pour your sauce on right after taking it out of the oven, so you don’t have too long to wait!

 For many of my recipes, I prefer to halve the sugar content recommended. But for malva pudding, the sugar (which you may baulk at, since it equals the flour quantity) is vital. It’s the sugar that gives the pudding its sticky toffee-taste, and with less, you may find it’s a bit too bready.

 It’s high-calorie but made from fresh, simple ingredients. And I’ve found that for most, that’s the most important thing.

Where does it come from?

There are actually a number of theories around the origin of malva pudding. We can all agree (including the authorities on matters of pudding origins) that the desert comes from South Africa. But what its name stems from is a bit unclear. 

My favourite theory, and the most popular, is that Malva pudding was once flavoured with the leaves of geranium, which, in Afrikaans, translates to Malva. But some say it got its name from a woman called Malva. And others, that it was flavoured with Malvasia wine.

Malva Pudding

Katja Mamacos
This malva pudding recipe is simple and delicious, an absolute classic. To be enjoyed with ice cream, whipped cream or warm custard.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine South African
Servings 8



  • 1 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 125 ml cream
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water



  • Preheat the oven to 180℃ (350℉). Ovens are temperamental, so if you know yours needs a bit more (or less) of a push, feel free to adjust.
  • In a large mixing bowl add your first 4 ingredients - butter, sugar, jam and egg. Beat until it lightens and gets a bit fluffier. If you only have a fork, the fluffy part isn’t make-or-break.
  • In a large measuring cup or a bowl, add milk, then vinegar and vanilla essence. Whisk lightly.
  • In another measuring cup/bowl, add bicarb to flour and give it a quick stir.
  • Alternating between the milk mixture and the flour, add to the large mixing bowl and mix well as you go along.
  • Pour into a lightly greased oven-proof dish (ours was 30x15cm, but it could definitely have been a bit smaller).
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife comes out with spongy crumbs stuck to it (it’s not likely to come out clean) rather than uncooked batter. The pudding will stay in its mold and rest for a bit once the sauce is poured over.


  • Add all sauce ingredients together in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Let it simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. This time will give the sauce a richer, deeper taste.
  • Stab the pudding a few times with a fork to help the sauce sink in so that it doesn’t pool at the sides and soak in only there. Then pour the sauce over slowly, being sure you’re not leaving any part dry.

All that’s left is to enjoy

Serve your malva pudding with ice cream or warm custard. As mentioned, it’s best served still warm, so you’ll want to prepare it just an hour before you plan to eat. Personally, our family loves this recipe with a good cup of coffee and some vanilla ice cream. The flavours complement each other perfectly.

How do you have your malva pudding?

And if you’re trying out South African deserts, give our peppermint crisp recipe a try! It’s such a delicious dessert, and really easy to make. Another baking favourite – but a breakfast treat rather than a desert – is healthy and tasty muesli rusks or beskuit.

Wander Cape Town is ad-free and sponsor-free. We’re working to find and pay locals who have been cooking these meals for years to write recipes. And you can help!

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