Cape Brandy Pudding Recipe

In keeping with our Women’s Month theme, we thought we’d share something sweet and delicious with you; a recipe for Cape Brandy Pudding. It’s not just any recipe, no… this is something special. It has a history as rich as the dessert itself.

Cape Brandy Pudding originates from a popular South African dessert known as Malva Pudding. Malva is rumoured to have been around for over 800 years, and was named after a South African woman named “Malva”. It first arrived on South African shores in 1652, served to Dutch settlers in the Cape of Good Hope. It was served with a sweet dessert wine called ‘Malvacea’, which hailed from the small Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. 

There are some stories that say Malva Pudding was named after “Malvacea” and not a South African woman named “Malva”… you can decide for yourself which story you prefer.

We do know for sure that when supplies for ingredients ran low, they would have to substitute a few items, using dates for sweetness and Cape brandy to make it that much more indulgent. And so the Cape Brandy Pudding was born! Make it yourself in your own home this weekend. Here’s how…


  • 250g pitted dates 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
  • 2 eggs beaten

Method For Pudding

  • Chop up the dates and divide into two parts
  • Add bicarbonate of soda to the first half and pour the boiling water over
  • Stir to mix and leave to cool
  • Cream butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs
  • Sift dry ingredients and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
  • Add the second half of the dates and mix
  • Then stir in the nuts and bicarbonate of soda mixture
  • Mix well
  • Turn batter into a large baking dish
  • Bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until it’s turns a rich, caramel brown

Method For Sauce

The sauce requires that you boil all of these ingredients for 10 minutes:

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar

Then remove from the heat and combine the following ingredients into the mixture:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the sauce over while the pudding is still hot out of the oven, and serve with homemade custard, fresh cream or ice cream. Or you could be incredibly indulgent and top with all three!

Photo: Ross Wilson Photography


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