Malva Pudding

Malva pudding with custard

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

~ Ernestine Ulmer ~

Malva must mean “lekker”

I am actually not a dessert person. If there is a choice I will rather eat a starter and a big main course and skip the dessert. But I certainly have some friends and family who will definitely eat dessert first if given a choice! My favourite dessert is probably Affogato – a shot of espresso over a scoop of ice-cream. But my “eat dessert first” daughter has two favourites: Crème Brûlée in summer and Malva Pudding in winter. Not even my Apple Tart can take over the place Malva Pudding has in her heart! What the “malva” actually means is not quite clear. The Afrikaans word for marshmallow has the word “malva” in it, but marshmallows are not an ingredient in Malva Pudding. I used to tell my children that “malva” must mean “lekker” – delicious!


Proudly South African

Malva Pudding doesn’t appear in my oldest edition of “Kook en Geniet” (an Afrikaans cook book first published in 1951). It became popular in the 80s and 90s and is still on many a South African restaurant menu. The combination of apricot jam, brown sugar and vinegar gives it deep caramel flavour and because the main raising agent is bicarbonate of soda, the texture is spongy and light. Of course the crowning glory of any Malva Pudding is the sauce – made with butter, cream and sugar – and the fact that it drenches that spongy crumb in sweet deliciousness. And she says she’s not a dessert person I hear you say!! When I was taking the photos for this post I had one teaspoon of the stuff and I will happily give up a potato for this!


A lost treasure

The Malva Pudding recipe I use, was a discovery on a Food24 site in 2010. This was the year South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup and every school event had South Africa as a theme. So I searched the internet and found this winner and was immediately asked to share it by parents eating the pudding at a school event. Unfortunately, I never saved the original website and now I cannot find the exact recipe online anymore. Luckily I had typed it up and found a copy on my computer.


Malva Pudding

Baked dessert with apricot jam and a sweet, buttery sauce
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: South African
Servings: 4 people
Author: Melby's Post (Adapted from


  • 250 ml light brown sugar
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 15 ml softened butter
  • 60 ml smooth apricot jam
  • 5 ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 ml all-purpose flour
  • 1 ml salt
  • 250 ml milk
  • 10 ml vinegar
  • 10 ml vanilla extract


  • 250 ml cream
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 125 ml white sugar
  • 60 ml hot water


  • Preheat the oven to 180 ºC.
  • Beat the sugar, egg, butter and jam until pale and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
  • Mix the milk, vinegar and vanilla extract together in a measuring jug.
  • Fold the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately into the egg mixture.
  • Pour into a greased baking dish (20 x 20 x 6 cm), cover with foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until firm, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove foil after 20 to 30 minutes.


  • Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan. Heat stirring frequently, until the butter melts and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour over the hot pudding just as it comes out of the oven.
  • Serve hot with ice-cream or custard (or both!).


  • I usually have a bit more sauce than is needed. You could remove the 60ml of water to concentrate the sauce, or just serve the sauce on the side.
  • This recipe only makes a 20 x 20 cm dish of pudding - enough for 4 people. It can easily be doubled by just doubling all the ingredients for the batter except the salt. As I usually have a bit of the sauce left when making a single batch of the recipe, I would suggest that you don't double the sauce quantities.


    • Delicious. My hubby is a malva fanatic (both of us South African) and he approves! Had trouble with the flour as the amount is not listed in the recipe. I tried 2.5 cups but that was a tad too much.

      Thank you for this recipe. Already saved it and printed it

      • Hi Annemarie
        Thanks for your feedback! I can’t believe I left the flour off the recipe! I have fixed it now – it’s just 250ml (1 cup) of all-purpose flour.

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