Family,  Family and Parenting,  Recipes


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Did you know that most South African desserts meet my ADD test?

If you’re wondering what test that is, it’s how I grade a great dessert.

A memorable dessert must be:
A – addictive
D – delicious
D – decadent

Have you ever tasted any delectable South African deserts?

Ever heard of Malva pudding, Sago pudding, and Roly Poly?

They are traditional South African desserts so delicious you’ll be licking your fingers and asking for seconds.

Why not try a few authentic South African desserts this Christmas?

Before I get to the recipes, check out this YouTube video of  George Calombaris (of MasterChef Australia) tasting authentic South African desserts for the first time:

I am so pleased to have a guest post by Roeloff of Revelations of an Amateur Chef. He believes that food can be magic, even in your own home and started his blog to promote this philosophy.

It’s November, the month that life starts to become hectic as Christmas beckons.

Shopping malls and supermarkets are stacked with tempting Christmas goodies compelling you to lighten your wallet to celebrate the season in style.

But, it’s also that time of the year for families to get together, a time for sharing and caring for loved ones.

I’m a softie so, at the sound of carols, a warm fuzziness creeps into my heart.


Nostalgia for past Christmas family gatherings floods me:

–  Happy, warm greetings as family arrives in fits and starts

–  Boney M playing softly in the background

–  The chatter of excited kiddies almost rendering the music mute
–  The aroma of great traditional South African dishes


I still recall the frenzied thoughts we kids had of Santa’s naughty or nice list.

Would I get that “Tamagotchi” toy I was hoping for, or the weirdly satisfying Furby toy every kid in the 90’s wanted?


There is something very special about festive food, and every little kid will agree with me, the best part is the desserts.

I have a sweet tooth so desserts have a very special place in my childhood.

My mother and grandmother always prepared puddings for us, whether it was Malva Pudding, Roly Poly or Sago.

To this day, we refer to Sago as frog eggs, because they are see-through round little balls suspended.



This is probably the number one dessert in the country.


According to Wikipedia:

Malva pudding is a sweet pudding of South African origin. It contains apricot jam and has a spongy caramelized texture. A cream sauce is often poured over it while it is hot, and it is usually served hot with custard and/or ice-cream.

Legend has it that the Malva batter was flavored with the Malva (geranium’s) leaves to give it a different flavor.

Another theory is that the pudding contained Malvasia wine grapes

There are a few spin-offs of malva puddings like Tipsy Pudding, which is flavored with brandy or sherry, and the Jan Ellis pudding.

I usually bake Malva pudding on a Sunday.

We enjoy a braai (barbecue) and Malva pudding is perfect to make in tin cups on the fire.

The chewy taste followed by golden syrupy sauce, and an overload of custard and ice cream sucks me in each time.



SouthAfrican desserts | Malva pudding, the perfect warm pudding for cold winter evenings.


Serves 4 – 8 people
Preparation time 15-20 minutes

• 2 Eggs
• 2 cups Sugar
• 2 cups Cake flour
• 2 tbsp fine Apricot jam
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp bicarbonate soda
• 2 cups Milk
• 3 tbsp brown Vinegar


Whisk eggs and sugar together.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the eggs and sugar and mix well.

Pour mixture into a baking casserole, and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180’C.

• 2 cups sugar

• 2 tsp vanilla essence
• 1 cup water
• 1 can Ideal Milk
• 250g butter


In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook together for a few minutes.

While the Malva cake is baking, prepare sauce ingredients in a pan.

Once the cake is fully baked, pour sauce over pudding while still hot to soak up all the sauce.

Serve hot, with custard sauce or ice cream (ok, I have a love for ice cream), and cherries.



SouthAfrican desserts | Sago pudding is a dessert that makes your tongue tingle. The only way to enjoy it is to savor it one spoonful at a time.
A little digging revealed that sago was traded to farmers for various other resources as sago was not freely available in South Africa.

It was shipped in from European countries.

The sago “pearls” are extracted from the spongy centers of various tropical palm stems, especially that of the Metroxylon sagu.

Sago pearls are similar in appearance to other pearled starches like that of the cassava starch (Tapioca).


Serves 4 people
Preparation time 15-20 minutes


• 375ml Water
• 45ml Custard powder
• 3 extra-large eggs (separated)
• 385g Condensed milk
• 750ml Milk
• 30ml Butter
• 5ml Vanilla essence
• 60ml Sugar


Place the sago a large pot,  and cover with the water.

Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Cook the sago on medium heat for 10 minutes, until they become a see-through colour.

Stir constantly to prevent burning.

In a bowl, mix custard powder, egg yolks, condensed milk, and milk together.

Slowly mix this into the warm sago mix.

Bring to boiling point.

Simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

The trick here is to constantly stir the mix to prevent it from burning.

Once thickened, add butter and vanilla essence.

Dish into a casserole or smaller ramekins.

As an extra, cover the pudding with apricot jam.

Whisk the egg whites and sugar until firm and spread over the pudding.

Bake 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 160’C or until brown on top.

Serve hot or cold with ice cream and fruit (I added sliced strawberries).


This pudding originated in the United Kingdom. Here’s Wikipedia’s
take on Roly-Poly Pudding: It was:

first created in the early 19th century. It is a flat-rolled suet pudding, which is then spread with jam and rolled up, similar to a Swiss roll, then steamed or baked

It travelled to South Africa with the original colonial farmers. It has since become a much loved South African treat.

SouthAfrican desserts | Roly Poly- a taste sensation that makes you glow n the inside. Perfect warm dessert for cold nights.

Serves 4 people
Preparation time 15-20 minutes

2 cups Cake flour
• 2 tsp Baking powder
• 1/2 cup cold Butter
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 45ml milk
• 3 tbsp Apricot jam

• 375 ml boiled water
• 1 cup Sugar
• 25ml Butter


The Roly Poly can be baked as a whole on a baking tray, or cut into pieces and baked in an oven casserole.

Preheat oven to 180’C.

Sift the flour and baking powder together.

Rub the butter into the flour mixture.

Add the eggs and milk, and knead until a dough forms. (If the mixture is dry, add a tiny bit of milk to the dough).

Roll the dough out, on a floured surface, to about a 1.5cm thickness.

Apply a thin layer of jam on the dough.

Roll into a worm-like form and slice into 2cm rings.

Place them into a greased casserole.

Mix the ingredients of the sauce together and pour over the dough.
Bake for one hour.

Serve with syrup and custard or chocolate sauce covered ice cream.


These baked desserts are easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

Reheat them in the microwave. They are especially handy when receiving unexpected family, friends or guests.

South African desserts are deeply rooted in my childhood.

They have formed a strong association with Christmas with every smell triggering memories of fun family times.


SouthAfrican desserts| Take your guests on a taste adventure at your next dinner party with these South African desserts. Simple homemade puddings that you can make and serve in 20 minutes. So delicious, you will have to share the recipes immediately.

For me, Christmas would not be the same without these delectable, easy to make desserts.

Do you have any special desserts that you make every Christmas?

Share them in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, please help to share it on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook because I need your help to spread the word about these incredible South African desserts.

Roeloff profile pic

Roeloff is the blogger behind Revelations of an Amateur Chef.
He aims to inspire you to uplevel your home entertaining with simple
easy to make recipes. Click the link to follow Roeloff on Pinterest.



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A former English teacher turned lifestyle blogger. Content creator for blogs and websites. Book lover, scrabble addict and crime show obsessor.


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