South African Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is one of those desserts that few South Africans don’t enjoy, weird I know, but I love it because it has a deliciously soft sponge that’s soaked in a sugary-cream liquid that gives it this toffee-caramel like flavour profile. Whether you decide to serve it as is, with ice cream, custard or more cream, you’ll be very happy you made it. Period. I’ve recipe tested this about five times so I can confirm she’s foolproof and simple to make…

Side note: Don’t confuse the Malva and Brandy pudding with one another. Both malva pudding and brandy pudding highlight the creativity and richness of South African desserts. While malva pudding is beloved for its comforting caramel notes, brandy pudding offers a more intense flavor experience with its boozy depth. Despite these differences, both desserts share a common thread of indulgence and tradition, making them cherished components of South African culinary culture.

The malva pudding is thought to originally be of Dutch then Cape Dutch origin synonymous with the Cape.

There are various theories on the origin of the name.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary says it comes from Afrikaans malvalekker, meaning “marshmallow” (ultimately from Latin malva, a mallow).[5] This may arise from a resemblance between the pudding’s texture and that of a marshmallow or a similar Afrikaner sweet, the malvelekker, made with the extract of marsh mallow.[6]
  • Malva is also Afrikaans for geranium (in the broad sense, including Pelargonium). Another botanical theory is that the batter was originally flavoured with the leaves of the lemon- or the rose-scented geranium, varieties of South African native plants.
  • Art Smith said that according to Colin Cowie, his hospitality ambassador in South Africa, the pudding was named after a woman called Malva.[8]
  • Another theory is that the sauce originally contained Malvasia (malmsey) wine. Proponents of this theory include brandy or sherry in the sauce.
  • Still others suggest that the pudding was originally accompanied by Malvasia wine.


Check the recipe video below to see what the final product will be looking like!



Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is a sweet pudding of South African origin. It's made with apricot jam and has a beautifully spongy caramelized texture. Served with custard or cream.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cape Dutch, South African
Keyword: apricot jam, malva, pudding
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8


Malva Sponge

  • 180 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 150 grams flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100 ml milk

Soaking Liquid

  • 90 grams treacle sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 220 ml water
  • 120 ml cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence


Malva Sponge

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your oven proof baking dish by lining it with a thin layer of butter or Spray & Cook.
  • Beat or whip the sugar and eggs – I find that an electric mixer yields the best results. Beat until thick and pale in colour.
  • In a small saucer, add the butter and jam together and melt in the microwave for 30seconds. Add the melted butter and sugar to the sugar-egg mixture and mix through. Add the lemon juice and mix again.
  • Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until well incorporated.
  • Add the milk and mix.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish. Place in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 35-40mins. You want the sponge to be dark brown in colour.

Soaking Liquid

  • Prepare the soaking liquid 5 minutes before removing the malva from the oven. Add sugar, butter, water, cream and vanilla essence to a medium saucepan. Simmer until the butter and sugar has fully melted. No need to boil the liquid – you just want the butter and sugar to melt. Note: if you’d like a richer sauce, then swop the cream and water measurements.
  • Remove the malva from the oven and using a toothpick/skewer prick holes through the sponge, focusing on the inner parts and this is where the liquid generally struggles to enter. Take the warm liquid and slowly pour it over the whole pudding.
  • Allow the pudding to rest for 10minutes before serving. Enjoy Tastebud!


  1. Acidity: I use freshly squeezed lemon juice but you can use store bought lemon juice or white vinegar. The acidity reacts when in contact with the baking soda delivering a fluffier crumb.
  2. Sugar: You can use whatever sugar you'd like but I personally prefer using light brown sugar in the sponge and the treacle sugar in the soaking liquid. I rarely use white sugar in general but I enjoy the flavour that the molasses from the treacle sugar adds to the liquid.
  3. Butter: I use salted butter - I'm a huge fan of adding salt to dessert seeing I don't have big sweet tooth (go figure! haha). If you are using unsalted butter then up the salt added to this recipe. In the sponge add an additional 1/2 tsp salt (equaling to 1 tsp salt) and in the liquid you could add 1/4 tsp salt.
  4. Ratio of the Soaking Liquid I use 220ml water and 120ml cream but you could swop the measurements if you'd like a richer soaking liquid. This would depend on your personal preference.
  5. Pouring the Soaking Liquid once you remove the malva from the oven, you must immediately start pricking it with a toothpick/skewer and pour over the warm soaking liquid. This ensure that the liquid is fully absorbed. I'd recommend you focus on creating more holes in the middle of the sponge than the outer edges and the liquid can tend to run outwards and not actually soak into the middle of the pudding. Also, pouring slowly will ensure that the liquid get absorbed more evenly.
  6. Dish size: Many malva recipes boast about their malva's sinking in the middle - this one doesn't (which I prefer) but with that said, if you are use a baking dish that's too small, it'll definitely rise too high in the middle (so the opposite will happen). It's important to use a dish that's large enough so that it encourages an even rise, ensuring ALL you're guests receive a beautiful even piece of deliciousness. You also want to make sure that you have enough space to pour in the soaking liquid. The dish size I found to be perfect is: 26cm L/17cm W/5cm H . You can extend the measurements by 1cm or 2cm but I wouldn't push it, otherwise your malva would be quite shallow/flat.
  7. Serving Suggestion: You could serve this with custard, ice cream and/or toasted nuts.
  8. Storing: Malva pudding freezes really well so don't be afraid to pop it in an airtight container and freezing it for up to 3 months. It will also last up to 4 days in the fridge (covered).
CategoriesMalva Pudding

Leave a Reply