Spiced Cape Brandy Pudding

Spiced Cape Brandy pudding

Whether you know it as Spiced Cape Brandy Pudding or Tipsy Tart, this baked pud is pure, sweet comfort! A stalwart of South African cooking made with sticky dates and toasted pecans. The whole affair is doused with a cinnamon and vanilla bean brandy syrup. It’s one my favourite winter desserts. It reminds me of my childhood and those memorable Sunday lunches when baked puddings with Moir’s custard was the best way to end the meal.

Cape Brandy Pudding or Tipsy Tart, as it’s also fondly known, is all about the dates. I think it has more to do with the brandy. Without the brandy syrup, it could be just a date cake. But drenching makes it a pudding. A heavy hand can only be advantageous. If you’re going to be stingy, perhaps delegate the job to someone who knows how to be generous.

Spiced Cape Brandy pudding_02

I haven’t made this Tipsy tart for years, but vaguely recall it serving about 10 maybe 12 at best. In fact, after making it again, I’d say it’s suited for gatherings. If you prefer, halve the quantities for a smaller pudding or make the whole recipe, divide between two ovenproof dishes and freeze one for later.

My deviation from the original Cape Brandy pudding is a matter of personal preference. The results are delicious. I’ve used treacle syrup and demerara sugar in the batter which adds a sticky toffee-ness. For a warm spicy note, I add a generous amount cinnamon and mixed spiced. Adding whole cinnamon and vanilla pods to the syrup delivers an aromatically boisterous flavour that elevates this  classic South African pudding to new level.


Spiced Cape Brandy Pudding
Serves 16
  • 150g solid packed dates, chopped
  • 150g Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 130g butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/4 cup treacle syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (100g) pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Brandy soaking sauce
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 320ml water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, roughly broken
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed
  • pinch salt
  • 160ml brandy
  1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease a large (22cm x 35cm) oven-proof baking dish. Place the dates and bicarbonate of soda in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the dates and stir through. Set aside for at least 10 minutes for the dates to soften and cool. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, demerara sugar and treacle syrup. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt. Beat on a low speed to combine. Fold through the soaked dates and pecan nuts. Spoon into the prepared dish and bake for about 50-55 minutes. Before removing from the oven, always check with a skewer for doneness.
  2. In the meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the butter, granulated sugar, water, cinnamon sticks and vanilla seeds and pod in a small saucepan. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt and the brandy.
  3. Pour the hot syrup over the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve the brandy pudding warm with softly whipped cream, custard or vanilla bean ice cream.


For more delectable South African classics, here’s where to look.


8 Comments. Leave new

  • I love tipsy tart – this looks delicious. Your styling and photos are beautiful; so creative! You are a true artist!

  • Dianne Bibby
    26 June 2015 5:09 pm

    Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you. I think this dessert will always remain a real South African favourite.

  • I made this for my sick hubby on Sunday. Without a shadow of a doubt this is the most flavourful and delicious brandy pudding I’ve ever had (or made for that matter). I used quality brandy…. and poured rather generously 🙂

    Easy to make too! Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  • Dianne Bibby
    13 July 2015 2:18 pm

    It’s a pleasure Zaza. Hope all that brandy soaking helped your hubby back to feeling better. Almost like the best kind of hot-toddy in pudding form! Although it’s an oldie, this pud always makes a winter appearance in my kitchen. Thank you for dropping by. Lovely to hear from you.

  • joy faulkner
    21 August 2019 4:18 pm

    Please advise what flour for gluten free and what quantity?? many thanks Joy

  • Hi Joy. I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour before, but if I was to make it, I would most probably use half gluten-free flour, half almond flour to make up the dry quantity specified. I like Nature’s Choice Gluten-free flour, but there are so many good brands that will work equally well. I’d love to know how it turns out. Best of luck.

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