Malva Pudding is a popular dessert throughout the countries of southern Africa, although food historians say it is of Cape Dutch origin, and thus South African. However, we were served Malva Pudding on three different occasions during our African adventure, and the first time was in Botswana. Malva Pudding is one of those magical desserts, like Tres Leches Cake from Spain and Mexico, that is deceptively simple yet apparently complex and mysterious. It does not readily reveal its ingredients and simply looks like a dense, moist, plain looking brown cake. The woman who baked the Malva Pudding that we ate in Botswana revealed to me that the secret ingredient was apricot jam. Yes, Malva Pudding does contain apricot jam, but there is more to the story than that. For one thing, the pudding is infused with a syrup which contains Rooibos Tea, also called Bush Tea, a popular beverage in Botswana. And finally, Malva Pudding should always be served with homemade custard, preferably still warm.
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature (not low fat)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam, plus 2-4 tablespoons more for glazing the cake
- cooking spray
For the Syrup:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk (not low fat)
- ½ cup boiling water or hot brewed Rooibos tea
- ¼ cup (half a stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Homemade Custard:
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups very hot milk or half and half (not low fat)
- ½ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Special equipment: electric mixer, 2 medium sized mixing bowls, sieve or flour sifter, 2-cup glass measure, 8” square glass baking pan, rubber spatula, bamboo skewer, 4-cup glass measure, wire rack, medium sized cooking pot, immersion blender, plastic wrap
Preheat oven to 350°F
Makes: approximately 8 servings
- Make the pudding: Spray an 8” square glass baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Combine the milk and baking soda in a 2-cup glass measure and set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
- In another medium sized bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and egg together until fluffy. Add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons apricot jam and mix well. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately until well combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- While the cake bakes, prepare the syrup: Combine all the syrup ingredients in a 4-cup glass measure and stir to dissolve the sugar. Microwave the mixture at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the syrup starts to boil. Remove from the microwave before the syrup boils over.
- Place the baked cake on a wire rack and poke the hot cake all over with the bamboo skewer. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the entire cake. It will absorb all the liquid. When the pudding has cooled slightly, microwave 2-4 tablespoons of apricot jam and pour it carefully, a few drops at a time, over the pudding as a glaze. Serve the pudding warm with warm custard, or refrigerate overnight and bring it to room temperature before serving.
- Make the custard: Pour 2 cups of milk or half and half into a 4-cup glass measure and heat in the microwave until it just starts to boil. Set aside. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture turns a pale yellow and forms a slowly falling ribbon when the beaters are lifted, about 4-6 minutes.
- Add the flour and mix well. Slowly add the hot milk and continue beating on low speed, scraping the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the custard batter into a medium sized cooking pot and cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture starts to boil. (I use an immersion blender to prevent the custard from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.)
- Lower the heat and continue cooking and whisking for a few more minutes until the custard is boiling and very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until the mixture is well blended and the butter has melted. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. If serving immediately, transfer the custard to a decorative bowl with a serving spoon and serve with the Malva Pudding. Custard can also be refrigerated and served cold.