Today, I am sharing with you the recipe of one of the most decadent desserts we’ve ever published on 196 flavors: malva pudding.
What is malva pudding?
Malva pudding is a sweet and rich cake of Cape Dutch origin, that is as entrenched in the Afrikaans culture as koeksisters or melktert. It is prepared with apricot jam and a little brown vinegar, which give this delicious traditional South African dessert a caramelized texture that is to die for. But wait, there’s more! As if the cake was not rich enough, it is covered with a cream sauce while it is hot. The malva pudding absorbs this sauce while cooling, and it turns this unpretentious cake into a sensationally gooey pudding. And since this is still enough, the pudding is often served hot with a custard like creme anglaise or vanilla ice-cream. If you didn’t gain 10 lb just by reading the description of this dessert, I salute you!
You probably understood by now, as I am not always that complimentary of the various recipes I try. Not only did I love this cake, but the whole family did, and I can already tell you that it will become a staple at home. Even though the end result is very different, malva pudding reminded me of a couple cakes I regularly make and that also use a technique of absorption after they are baked. First, the very popular tres leches cake from Central America, on which you are supposed to pour a mixture composed of… three milks, as its name indicates! The other one is a cake I grew up on. A Tunisian semolina-based cake called aricha (or harissa) that is covered with a citrus syrup.
Malva pudding is one of those recipes that everyone will slightly tweak to its own taste with a little twist, like including spices such as ginger. It also has some popular variants like the Cape brandy pudding, which is prepared with brandy and dates, as well as the tipsy tart, which only includes brandy.
What is the origin of the malva pudding?
If you haven’t skipped to the recipe just yet, let’s talk about the name of this yummy dessert. There are in fact various conflicting theories on the origin of the name of the malva pudding.
The name for malva pudding in Afrikaans is malvapoeding, which literally means marshmallow pudding. This theory probably comes from the resemblance between the pudding’s texture and that of marshmallow or its Afrikaner version called malvelekker, that is prepared with mallow (malva) extract.
Another theory advances the story of a the pudding being named after a woman called Malva.
Others say that the sauce originally used in the Dutch recipe contained Malvasia (also known as malmsey) wine, or that the pudding was served with this sweet wine, popular of the Mediterranean region, especially Madeira.
Malva is also the Afrikaans word for geranium, and some think that malva pudding was originally flavored with the leaves of the rose-scented geranium called pelargonium, that is native of South Africa.
Although malva pudding has been around for a while, it really became popular in the 1980s, when restaurants, including Boschendal near Cape Town, started to offer this apricot pudding cake on their menu.
Wherever malva pudding really comes from, I couldn’t recommend enough that you indulge in this honey-toned delicacy and sink your fork into its dark, luscious depths of richness, which is one of the best South African desserts.
- 1 tablespoon butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup brown vinegar (e.g. malt or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 cup flour , sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Whip butter with sugar for 2 minutes. Then, add the eggs one at a time, and continue to whip well after after each addition.
- Add the apricot jam and mix well.
- Then, add the milk and the baking soda, then the brown vinegar.
- Add the sifted flour gradually and continue to mix.
Pour batter into a 9-inch square greased baking pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes in the oven or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While the malva pudding is baking, mix all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan on medium/high heat.
- Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Cover.
- Remove the pudding from the oven, then pour the sauce on top. Set aside for 15 minutes before serving so that the cake has time to absorb the sauce to saturation.
- Serve with custard (like creme anglaise), vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.