New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Malva pudding

Sat, 2 December, 2023

It’s a pretty name for a delicious pudding: South African malva pudding is the taste of Summery Christmas.

malva pudding

Christmas the South Hemisphere way

For us in the Northern Hemisphere it seems really weird to bask in warm sunshine on Christmas Eve, go to the beach on Christmas Day and have a barbecue in the back garden on Boxing Day.

I’ve never spent Christmas below the Tropics so I can’t start to imagine it and yet for the not insignificant number of people living south of the Equator, Christmas comes during summer holidays.

In my view, the most incongruous thing about it is the food. A huge roast with all the trimmings, potatoes, root vegetables, casseroles and gravy are wintry delights. If it’s 30C outside, roast parsnips are not going to look very appealing, are they?

The same goes for sweets. A rich, boozy fruitcake or a stodgy Stollen will not have many takers. Trifle could fare better if you’re into trifle.

And Christmas pudding? Drowned in brandy and flambéed? No way: as if they needed warming up in Cape Town!

south african malva pudding

Christmas pudding the South African way

Surprise, surprise: they have their own version of Christmas pudding in Cape Town and it is much cherished as a traditional Christmas dessert.

It beats English Christmas pudding in many ways too (at least according to my taste): it is baked not steamed and it isn’t stupidly set on fire but rather drowned in a delicious vanilla cream sauce.

I guess it’s popular not only because it’s tasty (which it is) but also because it is ridiculously easy to mix and bake. I have a feeling it might become adopted in this corner of UK for Christmases to come!

christmas malva pudding

Why is it called ‘malva’ pudding?

The origin of malva pudding goes back to the Dutch colonisation of South Africa in the 17th century. A baked dessert was the taste of home while apricots were a locally added, plentiful ingredient.

The origin of the name is not as straightforwardly clear. It might relate to Afrikaans word for marshmallow, which is possibly close enough to describe the texture of the pudding. It could also be a reference to Malvasia wine (similar to Madeira) that used to be added to the pudding.

Wherever the name comes from, the pudding is so easy to make and delightful to eat, you should try it this Christmas – even if baking is not at all your forte.

malva pudding ingredients

How to make malva pudding batter?

You can use a handheld mixer to start off the batter but it’s absolutely not essential: a hand balloon whisk will suffice.

You’ll need it to beat the egg with sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth and thickly runny.

malva pudding batter

Prue Leith, whose recipe I roughly followed (after all she is not only the GBBO judge but a South African too, so whose better?) uses caster sugar. But I’ve seen other SA malva recipes and liked the idea of swapping it for dark brown, to enhance the butterscotch, caramel flavour.

Apricot jam is the only unusual ingredient here, added to the egg-sugar mix next, with a drop of cider vinegar and a little melted and cooled butter.

And then it’s the dry ingredients added in two goes, alternating with milk. The resulting batter will be completely liquid.

malva batter oven ready

What to bake malva pudding in?

You can use individual pudding cases which are about 175ml (6 fl. oz.) in capacity, but it’s also fine to use just one, ovenproof, thoroughly buttered, at least 700ml (24 fl. oz.) pie or gratin dish.

The pudding will bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the baking dish. With individual cases, start prodding the pudding with a tester after half an hour. When the tester is almost clean, the pudding is ready to come out.

south african christmas pudding cake

Saucing the pudding

It would be quite nice served on its own, but malva pudding is normally sauced with vanilla flavoured cream sauce – and that takes it up several levels of deliciousness.

While the pudding is baking, bring the sauce ingredients to a simmer and keep it faintly bubbling.

vanilla sauce

As soon as the pudding is out, jab it with a slender knife or a fork to make it absorb the sauce better. Spoon the sauce over the pudding, drenching it thoroughly then tilting the dish and spooning the pooling sauce back onto the cake.

saucing malva pudding

You can reserve a little sauce to dribble onto portions, or just make twice as much!

Serve malva pudding immediately, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraiche on the side.

More Christmas desserts

Caribbean Christmas black cake with rum soaked fruit and burnt sugar flavour. It is the Jamaican or Trinidad cousin of British Christmas cake and it stands tall in comparison!

Lemon posset recipe, the best and the easiest. A fabulous dessert prepared in 15 minutes, posset originates from a spiced milky medieval drink. Lemon posset can be served in shot glasses with seasonal berries or pomegranate seeds and a little whipped cream.

Mini pavlovas, homemade meringue nests with whipped cream and fruit toppings: passion fruit, pomegranate and raspberry. Simple and gorgeous, individual meringues are also easier to bake than a big pavlova.

More pudding recipes

Easy Christmas pudding recipe with grated carrots and apple in the batter. Traditional Christmas pudding should be steamed, but this version is lighter and tastier.

Sticky toffee pudding topped with nuts and toffee sauce. Dates and dark brown sugar are key to a sticky toffee, and this recipe is unquestioningly the best.

malva christmas pudding cake

Malva pudding

Servings: 4Time: 45 minutes
Rating: (1 reviews)


  • For the pudding:
  • 70g (½ cup) plain flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g (½ cup) soft brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 40g (2 tbsp) apricot jam
  • 15g (1 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted plus more for the dish
  • ¼ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 125ml (½ cup) whole milk
  • For the sauce:
  • 50ml (3 ½ tbsp) double cream
  • 40g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water


1. Butter a pie or gratin dish, at least 700ml/24 fl. oz. Preheat the oven to 200C no fan/400F/gas 4.

2. Stir the flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl.

3. In a larger bowl beat the sugar, egg and salt with a handheld mixer until smooth. Beat in the jam, melted butter and apple cider vinegar.

4. Add the milk and the flour mix in 3 additions, starting and ending with milk. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out almost clean.

5. While the pudding is baking, make the sauce. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until it starts to bubble. Keep warm until the pudding comes out of the oven.

6. Prod the pudding with a slim knife all over to make holes for the sauce, spoon it over and tilt the dish to distribute it evenly.

7. Serve immediately, spooned into bowls, with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche. Any leftovers can be warmed up briefly in the microwave but it’s best eaten on the day.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Maria - thank you for the clarification! And next time I make it, I'll definitely enhance the sauce with some port.
7 months ago
What a nice surprise to find our traditional Afrikaner pudding recipe! The pudding predates the British colonization since 1806 so the origin of 'malva' is certainy not related to 'marshmallow' but to the sweet Malvesa dessert wine. I usually add a quarter cup of port or fine Cape brandy to my simmering sauce.
7 months ago

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend