Traditional South African Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding – South African Dessert

This dessert says “South African” like no other and is comfort food at its very best.    Every  South African cook has a variation of this pudding in at least one of their cookbooks.   Overflowing with sweetness,  this apricot flavoured spongy cake-like dessert  is worth every single calorie.  And believe me, you will be going back for more.   It’s just one of those desserts that makes you throw caution to the wind and forget about those jeans that are already too tight.  Tomorrow is another day for dieting, unless of course there are left overs, because this amazing pudding is delicious heated up the next day too.

South African dessert Malva Pudding

The origin of Malva is a little sketchy to say the least.  We know that it is of Cape Dutch origin and some believe it was named after a woman named Malva.  Others believe that it comes from the fact that Malva pudding was served in the Cape with a dessert wine called Malvacea from Madeira.  This rich dessert contains no marshmallows but could have got its name from the fact that it has a spongy texture like marshmallow and was  introduced in The Complete African Cookbook as “marshmallow pudding” (Malvapoeding) in Afrikaans.

Traditional South African recipe Malva Pudding

The ingredients can be found in most pantries  – eggs, sugar, butter, flour, vinegar, bicarb, apricot jam, milk and cream. The result is a spongy, moist sweet pudding that is usually served with custard or vanilla ice cream, or both if you dare.   The secret to its delicious flavour is in the buttery creamy sauce that is poured over the pudding once it has been baked.  This sauce soaks into the pudding making it moist and giving it its unique flavour.   It does not win 10 out of 10 for appearance and is usually baked in a good old oven tray , but the flavour makes up for  it.

Malva Pudding and custard

I love hot puddings smothered in custard or ice cream.  What is your favourite ?

4.67 from 3 votes
Traditional South African Malva Pudding
Malva Pudding - Traditional South African Dessert
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
This pudding can be halved and baked in a square tin 15x15cm
Course: Dessert
Servings: 12
Author: Shades of Cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 450 g castor sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Apricot Jam (or marmalade)
  • 425 ml milk
  • 225 g flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon spirit or grape vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter , melted
  • For the Topping
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g castor sugar
  • 250 ml cream
  • 100 ml boiling water
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and apricot jam until light and fluffy, and then beat in the milk.
  3. Fold in the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  4. Add the vinegar and melted butter.
  5. Pour the batter into a well buttered roasting tin (30cmx20cm) and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. The mixture is very runny.
  6. The pudding can be left at this stage and reheated just before serving.
  8. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a pot and bring to the boil.
  9. Pour this hot mixture over and allow to sink into the pudding. It will seem like too much but it soaks in and makes the pudding sticky.
  10. Serve with custard and ice cream.
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  • Reply Elizabeth July 26, 2016 at 11:08 PM

    Spectacular, Ev! As my young daughter would say “delectable”.

    Thank you for this unique and local pudding. Would love to make for my loved ones.

    Have a great week! XO 😉

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 27, 2016 at 1:30 PM

      Hi Elizabeth – out of the mouths of babes, your daughter would be so correct, it is delectable. Thanks so much for your support. Big hugs

  • Reply Brenda July 27, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    Another great South African dessert. We are unique in our food . A devoted SA fan

  • Reply Johannes July 27, 2016 at 1:42 PM

    Warms my heart to see this recipe from an expat

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 27, 2016 at 1:48 PM

      Not easy to be away from this beautiful country. Thank you for visiting my blog

  • Reply ratna July 28, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    I never say no to any dessert. So the favourite list would be too long Ev. Now the tight jeans, well, that sounds very familiar. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 28, 2016 at 7:32 AM

      Ah the joy of food, unfortunately I have no will power when it comes to dessert either. Would rather miss the main course just to have the dessert. Take care and thanks for your support Ratna

  • Reply Tandy | Lavender and Lime July 28, 2016 at 8:24 AM

    It is so cold in my office that I could eat this for breakfast right now! Love your photos Ev 🙂

  • Reply Sam Taylor July 29, 2016 at 11:11 AM

    I have never really considered myself a Traditional South African cook, but malva pudding is one traditional dish that I bake quite often and we all love it. Although to be fair, we pretty much love anything too heavy on butter and cream 😉

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 29, 2016 at 3:50 PM

      I agree there is nothing better than butter and cream – oh and chocolate

  • Reply Sugar et al. July 29, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    How incredibly delicious and impressive this is! This would be so perfect for our season at the moment.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon July 29, 2016 at 3:49 PM

      Thanks for your kind words Sonali, it is a great winter warmer. Have a great week. xxx

  • Reply Teresa August 3, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    This is my husband’s favourite dessert and I love it too. I have never settled on a favourite recipe for making it, so I am definitely going to try your one – looks fab!!

  • Reply Julie December 22, 2020 at 4:25 AM

    I just made this, I am going to put it in the refrigerator as it is a gift for someone for tomorrow. I hope it tastes as good cold as I am assuming it would be warm!

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon December 22, 2020 at 12:46 PM

      I would definitely get them to warm it up before serving Julie , as there is nothing better than hot Malva with custard or ice cream. Enjoy and have a wonderful festive season

  • Reply Hema January 27, 2021 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

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