The malva pudding is one of the most traditional South African desserts you will find, and here I’ve made a pear and ginger version because these flavours work so beautifully with the buttery sweetness. I’m ecstatic with the results. The base recipe for this Malva pudding comes from Maggie Pepler and was on the old Boschendal Sunday buffet menu for over 3 decades. It has been widely written about by South African food writers and I can say that is definitely amongst the best, if not the best version I have tried. I did, however, find the amount of sauce to be too overwhelming in the original recipe and for my preference so I adjusted the quantities down a little. In the past, I have added orange juice to replace the water because I love the citrus to cut through some of the sweetness.
People are super protective of their heritage recipes as I discovered last year when I did a London Fog rendition of a traditional South African Milk Tart. The addition of Earl Grey tea flavour was really delicious to me but some people find it unacceptable to mix a classic recipe up. There is also a lot of debate as to what kind of base constitutes a traditional milk tart and despite me proclaiming my personal preferences being tennis biscuits (I love the texture) – I was shut down by a person who let’s just say is sadly no longer my friend.
I hope this pear and ginger malva pudding doesn’t end another friendship. It’s merely a spin on a classic recipe and I mean no harm to anyone by making it this way.
This is part of the larger discussion around the cultural appropriation of recipes, but for me, the Internet is my home and I am influenced by global food trends and flavours, it’s hard not to mix it up. I also love to play around with ingredients that work well together – even if I happen to alter a much loved traditional recipe. After all, isn’t that what recipe blogging is about? About discovery, creating and sharing recipes with the hope to inspire and add deliciousness to peoples lives.
What do you think about the concept of adding new things to traditional recipes and where do you draw the line?
If you are unfamiliar with the traditional South African malva pudding, think of a warm sponge that doused in a rich buttery sauce that is akin to the early stages of butterscotch before the sugar caramelisation sets in. The sauce seeps into the sponge making it super moist and delicious. It’s so rich it needs custard, cream or ice cream to break the sweetness.
For this recipe, I have used a combination of fresh and preserved ginger because I think they both add different flavour elements and overall it was fairly mild. You could definitely add a little more if you really like a strong ginger flavour. Or you could add a dash of ginger powder too. I’ve kept some of the leftover sauce that didn’t sink in on the side to serve. I also added a dash of ginger to the mix there too.
Recipe – makes one pudding – serves 6 – 8
- 3 pear, peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks a similar size
- 3 – 4 few slices of fresh ginger
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped preserved ginger
- 1 Tbsp smooth apricot jam
- 1 cup flour (all-purpose/cake flour)
- 1 tsp baking soda/bicarb
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 250ml / 1 cup milk
- 180ml / 3/4 cup sour cream or fresh cream
- 110gm butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 100ml boiling water
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp finely chopped preserved ginger
Bring a cup of water to the boil in a medium pot with the sliced ginger and poach the pears for 5 minutes. Drain, remove the slices of ginger and allow to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350F)
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg, sugar, jam, and gingers on high for about 5 minutes and until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl sift the flour and bicarb of soda.
Melt the butter in the microwave and add the vinegar.
Whilst the mixer is still running on low alternate between adding the flour and the milk in parts until it’s well combined. Add the butter and vinegar mixture.
By hand fold through the poached pears and empty the batter into a well-greased baking dish aprox 28 – 30cm in diameter (round) or 30 x 20 cm square (glass pyrex or ceramic works well) and cover with foil. Bake for 45 mins until it’s firm and golden (The pudding is ready when it has an even golden brown colour over the top, bake a bit longer if it is still pale in the middle).
While the malva pudding is baking, melt all the sauce ingredients in a pot on the stove and pour this over the pudding as soon as it comes out the oven.
Don’t worry if it looks like it is literally drowning, it will seep in. Reserve whatever doesn’t go in in a jug to serve.
A shot of something boozy wouldn’t go amiss in this sauce.
*You can see a copy of Maggie Pepler’ss recipe here
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