South African Malva Pudding Recipe

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This South African Malva Pudding Recipe is a decadent South African dessert. It is sweet, milky, buttery, moist, and the perfect treat for when you want to indulge. My husband who doesn’t love desserts LOVES Malva Pudding!

A slice of South African Malva Pudding Recipe topped with a scoop of ice cream.

This Malva Pudding is one of my favorite desserts to make during Christmas alongside Danish Butter Cookies and Homemade Shortbread Cookies.

It is the perfect holiday indulgence—or any other special occasion, really. It is said that this dessert was first created in the late 1970s by Maggie Pepler, who worked with and gave the recipe to Michael Olivier. That is how the Malva Pudding was born in South Africa! The rest is history.

It is a Cape Town favorite now; Malva Pudding Cake is so beloved to South Africans! There are other variations of the dessert, such as Cape Brandy Pudding, which has dates and brandy. You can also make chocolate malva pudding, which is unique in its own way.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name “Malva” derives from the Afrikaans word for “marshmallow.” Some relate it to marshmallows because of its lovely taste and texture. However, some believe its name comes from a sweet wine, malvasia wine, so there are different theories about its name.

South African Malva Pudding Recipe

Hands up if you love baking especially during the weekend! This South African Malva Pudding also called malvapoeding is the perfect indulgence. It is surely a comfort food.

It is made by first baking a spongy texture cake and then soaking it in an insanely good buttery sauce. You make the sauce by combining butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a pot, then simmering them to make a mixture of melted butter and dissolved sugar.

It is an I-have-worked-so-hard-so-I’m-gonna spoil-myself-today kind of dessert!

Mr. N is not a lover of sweet treats. But when he first tasted Malva, he just kept eating! And eating!

There is something irresistible about this luscious melt-in-your-mouth milky pudding. It is warm, rich and so satisfying! And you can make it in just 45 – 60 minutes!

Sticky malva pudding

This hot pudding has made me rethink my love for other decadent treats like souffles or mug cakes. That’s because it is like your best souffle, cake, or pudding in one.

So so delicious! Definitely one of the best pudding recipes ever. It is similar to sticky toffee pudding, but not quite as sweet. I can still remember the first time I tried it.

This recipe has come a long way! I adapted it from the amazing cookbook, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Chef Marcus Samuelson.

Perfect Malva Pudding

Ingredients For Malva Pudding

Make some, friends! This recipe requires baking staples like flour, baking soda, eggs, sugar, and a pinch of salt. However, it also has a few unique ingredients that make it stand out. Here are a few notes about them:

  • Apricot Jam or Preserves: You will need apricot jam. I use apricot preserves instead and it works so well! Check out my recipe for homemade Apricot Preserves which works well for Malva Pudding.
  • White Vinegar: This ingredient is crucial because it essentially turns the milk into buttermilk, giving the cake a richer, deeper flavor. It also helps activate the baking soda since it is acidic.
  • Evaporated Milk: This ingredient is needed for the butter sauce. It helps it to be velvety and rich!
Ingredients for this South African Malva Pudding Recipe and their labels

Recipe Variations

Use any jam you have on hand to make a different kind of Malva Pudding.

  • Replace the apricot jam with guava jam to make guava malva. I have made this before and it was so good.
  • Replace the apricot jam with strawberry jam to make strawberry malva.
  • Replace the apricot jam with orange marmalade to make orange malva. You can also put some orange juice in the butter sauce.
  • Use 1/4 cup brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup sugar for a caramel-like golden brown sauce! Follow the same instructions, making it in a small saucepan.

Substitutions

  • Flour: I suggest using plain all-purpose flour. However, you can use cake flour if needed. It will slightly alter the texture!
  • Vanilla Extract: Swap the vanilla extract for almond extract or another flavor. You can also use fresh vanilla beans or vanilla paste.
  • Vinegar: It is possible to use white wine vinegar instead of distilled white vinegar!
Malva Pudding - traditional South Africa Dessert

How To Make Malva Pudding From Scratch

Making Malva Pudding from scratch is really easy. First, you bake a cake, then you make a buttery milky sauce and pour it on the cake. Just follow these simple steps. Also, check below for the full recipe and a video!

  1. Make the batter: Sieve the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the egg, sugar, room temperature butter, and apricot jam. You can use an electric mixer to beat the egg mixture until pale if you wish (or mix by hand).
  2. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the beaten eggs. Mix into the wet mixture. Separately, in a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar together then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the milk to the egg mixture and mix well to combine.
  4. All the ingredients for the cake mixed together make a runny batter. Pour the batter into a greased baking dish.
pouring batter into baking dish for South African Malva Pudding Recipe

5. Bake the cake: Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Baked Malva Pudding in baking dish.

6. Make the butter sauce: In a medium saucepan over low heat to medium heat (avoid high heat), make the evaporated milk mixture with the sauce ingredients. Simmer together butter, sugar, and evaporated milk. Pour sauce all over the cake.

pouring butter sauce from saucepan onto cake

7. Let the cake rest and absorb the hot sauce: Let the cake rest for 5-10 minutes so it can absorb all of that good butter sauce.

8. Serve: Serve warm as it is or with your favorite toppings. You could serve the pudding with custard, vanilla ice-cream, or whipped cream.

South African PAudding topped with whipped cream

Can You Freeze Malva Pudding?

Yes! Malva pudding freezes well. You can freeze malva pudding then thaw, reheat and serve. I love to reheat slice by slice in the microwave. Heat one slice in the microwave for 10 seconds. To reheat in a preheated oven, make sure the pudding is in an oven safe dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and heat at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through.

You can also store the Malva Pudding in the fridge if you want to eat this delicious dessert the next day. Keep the pieces in an airtight container to store them.

Tips For The Best Malva Pudding

Here are tips I have gathered from making this dessert over the years.

  • Make sure you use a wide baking dish as opposed to a deep baking dish. Do not use an 8 by 8 baking dish, for example. An 8 by 11 inch baking dish is perfect for this recipe. A wide baking dish ensures that the butter sauce soaks ALL of the pudding. If you use a smaller/deeper dish, parts of the cake do not absorb the sauce and its just not good.
  • When you simmer the butter sauce milk solids might form on top. Scoop out the milk solids before pouring the sauce on the cake. This helps to give the cake a cleaner look.
  • Malva pudding is great as it is and in fact, we mostly eat it by itself. However, to take it to the next level try serving with either of the following: a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or custard. You can even reserve some extra jam and top it with a jam mixture! Yum.

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Crazy Delicious Malva Pudding

Watch Me Making This South African Malva Pudding Recipe

Watch me show you step-by-step how to make Malva Pudding in the video below. If you would like to never miss cooking videos please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click on the notification bell.

Serving

A slice of Malva Pudding topped with a scoop of ice cream.

South African Malva Pudding Recipe

5 from 3 votes
This South African Malva Pudding Recipe is a decadent South African dessert. It is sweet, milky, buttery, moist, and the perfect treat for when you want to indulge. My husband who doesn't love desserts LOVES Malva Pudding!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients  

The Pudding

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam or apricot preserves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Butter Sauce

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter an 8 by 11 inch oven-safe pan.
  • Sieve the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine the egg, sugar, butter and apricot jam/preserves. Beat together until pale in color.
  • Add the flour to the bowl and beat in.
  • In a bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together then add the vanilla extract.
  • Add the milk to the egg mixture and mix well to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan. Let it bake for about 30 minutes until brown at the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • While the pudding bakes, make the sauce. Combine butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer on medium heat while stirring continuously until the butter and sugar completely melt.
  • As soon as the pudding comes out of the oven, pour the warm sauce over it. Let it stand for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Serve the Malva Pudding warm with whipped cream or ice cream if you like. But it is really great as it is!

Notes

1. Malva pudding is best served warm.
2. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of the sugar in the cake but I used half a cup of sugar instead. I find that half a cup of sugar together with the sweet apricot jam yields a sufficiently sweet Malva Pudding.
3. Be sure to pour your warm sauce over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
4. This recipe is adapted from the book, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelson.

Nutrition

Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 779IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 184mg | Iron: 1mg

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: African, South African
Calories: 406
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

This post was first published on March 8th, 2019. It has been improved with more content, more pictures, and a video.


This post contains affiliate links.


About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.


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14 Comments

  1. Thank you, Precious, for this wonderful recipe. Our kids were over for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! It has definitely made our list of favorite desserts. We all liked that it wasn’t overly sweet but just right. Yum yum.

  2. We are a Ghanain-German family. I love your recipes. I made this malva pudding today and everyone loved it <3

  3. Thank you for this delicious recipe going to try it today. I have only tasted Malva pudding once and today suddenly I feel for Malva pudding. Thank you for your easy and delicious recipes.

  4. Hi Precious, I’m from South Africa but live in America for 20+ years, love making food from home and this is a star recipe! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I think this was one of the best things I’ve ever baked. I made it for my family last night and even the one who doesn’t like desserts loved it. I served it warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of the apricot jam. Beautiful and delicious! Thank you!

    1. So happy to hear that, Gary! My husband doesn’t like desserts but he always enjoys Malva Pudding. You served it the right way with ice cream. Yum! Thank you for your comment.

  6. Oompfh I LOVE malva pudding! Especiall with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream 🙂 Your recipe looks very good and I love the photo’s, so beautiful!

      1. You can use any other jam you can find – same quantity. You need jam for this recipe. Hope this helps.