Malva pudding is known as a legendary giant of the South African food culture. Getting into the ring with a traditional malva pud is not to be taken lightly. In a recent survey, Malva pudding was voted by locals as the most popular baked pud. With its warm milky syrup seeping through a hot baked sponge, every spoonful is saturated with sweet nostalgia. This is the pudding I grew up on. With numerous requests for a Malva pudding recipe, I thought it time to share my mum’s handed down recipe, with a few modifications.
I’ve mentioned before how I love food stories and it just so happens that I have a malva pudding story. This one goes back to my childhood home. It’s Sunday morning. Arriving home from church ravenous, we all make a beeline for the kitchen grabbing frantically at anything that can fill a hole. You’d think we hadn’t eaten in weeks. Then the voice comes, ‘Stop nibbling. You’re going to ruin your appetite’. When will parents understand that to dampen a teenager’s appetite, it takes a truck load of spuds, not a skinny whiff of fridge air!
Sunday lunches always had a sweet conclusion and as far as baked puddings were concerned, malva pudding was at the top of the list. On this particular Sunday our favourite pud took a turn for the worst. For the sauce we used a pot of sour cream instead of evaporated milk and so the malva became known as ‘The Himalayan’ pudding for years to come. As you can imagine, there it sat on the counter, crowned with curdled, white snowy peaks. Interesting, but not quite what we’d hoped for. Needless to say we ate it anyway. According to my mum, anything veiled in custard can pass as pudding. This is my version, without the sour cream, of course.
Being partial to anything caramel, I try to add as much treacly flavour possible. For a deepened molasses flavour, muscovado sugar gets added to both the cake and sauce. When in season, I like to serve the malva with caramelised Martell cognac pears. There’s nothing better than comforting baked puddings and seasonal fruit. The pears are caramelised in a sugary butter and doused with a splash of cognac. I love the subtle notes of citrus, pear and vanilla in the cognac. It works beautifully with the caramel sweetness of the puddings. If you’re making this for children you can replace the cognac with fresh orange juice.
To serve, add generous spoonfuls of softly whipped cream. Custard or ice cream lacks the neutrality of cream to off-set the sweetness of the sauce, but the choice is yours. Baking the puddings in individual moulds elevates this local favourite to something rather special. For ease and practicality I bake the Malva in one large ovenproof dish and let everyone tuck in and help themselves. I hope these little puds become a regular at your table. I’d love to hear what your favourite childhood Sunday pudding was?
Caramel malva pudding with cognac pears
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
- one egg
- 1 cup flour
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup full cream milk
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) vinegar
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup muscovado sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon caramel extract or essence
- Cognac pears
- 2 firm but just ripened pears, skin on and stalk intact
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) butter
- 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons cognac, depending on taste preference
- 45ml (3 tablespoons) cream
- Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease a 2 litre oven-proof baking dish with butter or 8 dariole moulds if making individual puddings.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and muscovado sugar until combined. Add the egg and beat again.
- Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the flour and milk to the egg mixture in alternate stages and beat on a low speed until flour is incorporated.
- Add the apricot jam and vinegar to the batter and mix through.
- Pour the batter into the baking dish and smooth over.
- For the individual puds, bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through. For one large sized dish, bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
- To make the sauce, place all the ingredients, except the caramel extract, in a saucepan and bring up to the boil.
- Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Stir through the caramel extract and keep warm while the pudding is baking.
- Pour the hot sauce slowly over the pudding.
- If making the moulded puddings, set aside to rest for about 20 minutes before carefully loosening to un-mould.
- To make the pears, slice the pears into eighths.
- Place the butter and sugar in a pan and heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Add the pears and cook for several minutes on each side.
- Once the pears have taken on some colour, pour in the cognac and allow to reduce down slightly.
- Add the cream and simmer for several minutes until the sauce is thickened.
- Serve the malva puddings with whipped cream, warm pears and a spoonful of cognac cream sauce drizzled over the top.