Asynpoeding (Vinegar pudding)


20070203_asynpoedingAs far as I can tell, one of the defining characteristics of the South African palate is a love of sweet things.  Take that most South African of men, my father, as an example.  My mom used to say that as a little girl I never took sugar in my tea or coffee (yes, I was allowed to drink caffeine as a child.  No, it doesn't appear to have done me any harm!!) – that is, until I saw my beloved Pappa taking sugar in his.  And BOY, did he take sugar.  I remember carrying his little empty espresso cup back to the kitchen to be washed with the base covered in a crust of undissolvable sugar (because, hey, there is only so much water in an expresso cup…).  And when I visit him these days, things continue pretty much along the same lines.  But seeing as he turns 85 this year, it doesn't appear to have done him much lasting harm 😉 As I have mentioned before, at braais he insists on having thick slices of white bread spread generously with apricot jam.  And he is the only man alive that I have ever seen sprinkling his tomato and mozarella salad with copious amounts of sugar, allegedly because he "likes the crunch".

I also remember many years when the family would plan to go on holiday when he got home from work at lunchtime on a Friday.  For some reason he would always insist that the quickest and easiest meal to ensure a quick getaway was a "fruit lunch".  This consisted of tinned mixed fruit salad (which I have never really cared for) and a scoop of ice cream.  Even as a child, something in me found this to be intrinsically wrong – but my father loved it and insisted on it, so the dreaded fruit lunch it was.  Having observed his behaviour in restaurants throughout my whole life I have noticed another fundamental difference between us:  I look forward more than anything to the amuse bouche and the starter.  To me they always sound like the most interesting and quirky dishes on the menu, and by the time dessert comes around I often head straight for the cheeseboard.  For my father, it is the other way round.  He cares not one jot for amuses bouche, canapés or starters and will seldom eat them.  He will have the plainest fish for a main course nine times out of ten.  But when he really gets excited is when he surveys the dessert menu.  No matter how full he is, there is always room for dessert, and the sweeter the better.  Chocolate mousse is a perennial favourite, but creme brulée gets a look in these days too.  And his most vivid and cherished memory of his 80th birthday celebration was not the fact that all six his children came from all over the world to be with him.  Oh no – it's the Greek chocolate cake he remembers.

So it should then come as no surprise that South Africans love their puddings, and what a rich heritage of puddings we have to draw on!  The French Huguenots gave us blancmange and oeufs a la neige (sneeueiers); the Dutch and their Malay slaves gave us all manner of steamed and baked spicy, fruity puddings; and the English left behind a trail of trifle and bread and butter pudding.   When you look in an Afrikaans recipe book you are amazed at the range of hot puddings that appear there:  predikantsvroupoeding (vicar's wife pudding), Jan Ellispoeding (apparently named after famous Springbok rugby player Jan Ellis), bruinpoeding (brown pudding), sagopoeding (sago pudding), malvapoeding (literally, mallow pudding, although it contains no marshmallows…), armmanspoeding (poor man's pudding) – and the subject of my post today, asynpoeding (vinegar pudding). Try as I might, I could not find the historical antecedents of this pudding, but if anybody knows of an English, French or Dutch pudding that includes a syrup made from vinegar, I'd be very pleased to hear from them.  Like most of our puddings, the ingredients are pretty basic and include Afrikaner staples like apricot jam, ginger and nutmeg.  Some recipes also include raisins, but I prefer to leave them out.  And although the name seems to suggest something lip-puckeringly, erm, vinegary, don't worry:  the vinegar is only in the syrup and is actually a nice subtle counterbalance to the sweetness, as well as marrying beautifully with the spices.  Although it's only one step away from being a self-saucing pudding, it is traditionally served with runny vla (custard).  But as there is plenty of sauce already, I served it with good vanilla ice cream.

This one's for you, dad – the pudding monster 😉

20070203_asynpoeding2ASYNPOEDING (VINEGAR PUDDING) for 4


For the syrup:
250ml boiling water
150g granulated sugar
62.5 ml white vinegar

For the batter:
12g butter
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp smooth apricot jam
1 egg, beaten
190ml cake flour
2ml baking soda
1ml salt
5ml ground ginger
1ml ground nutmeg
25ml milk


Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  To make the syrup, over medium heat, heat the vinegar, boiling water and sugar.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to come to the boil and then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then stir in the jam and beaten egg and mix well.  Sift the dry ingredients together, then alternately stir in portions of the dry ingredients and the milk into the egg mix until well mixed.

Spoon mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish.  Pour the syrup carefully over the batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Serve with custard, whipped cream or ice-cream.

[This post forms part of an new occasional series entitled "South African recipes from A to Z" and also appears on SA Rocks under my weekly Rainbow Pantry column.]

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  1. says

    So so happy to get this recipe! I am making it tonight! We often have Malva pudding, but I had lost my Vinegar pudding recipe. I can empathise with your dad. I’m a pudding junkie and proud of it!

  2. says

    Thanks for the recipe. I am going to give it a go when I get off this no sugar for Lent malarky. Do you use any specific vinegar?
    I must be a true South African, because I have a major sweet tooth. By the way, whenever I say “pudding” in Germany, people pucker their brows. To them a pudding is a like a milky set jelly. I have to remember to say “dessert” and then we all understand each other.

  3. M. Girlie and L. Pants says

    Jeanne, this recipe looks outstanding! And like a good conversation piece, too, for those of us who didn’t grow up with vinegar pudding. Incidentally, your dad sounds a lot like mine… no sweets are safe in my parents’ house.
    Thanks so much for the link on your sidebar! Glad you’re enjoying our blog!

  4. Ros says

    Your Dad sounds a lot like mine, from the sweet tooth to the bizarre restaurant behaviour you mentioned in a comment on my site. When I was growing up, I used to come downstairs to find Dad making sugar sandwiches for breakfast. Just a thin spread of (healthy living!) marge and an inch thick layer of white sugar in between two slices of white bread. Even as an 8 year old I thought it was unpalatable!
    Now, the vinegar in this pudding does sound strange but I am very willing to believe it works perfectly. I don’t make dessert often but this is something I am very keen to try.

  5. herschelian says

    I love all the old fashioned South African puddings – personally I love Malva pudding, but my family adore Cape Brandy Pudding.
    As to using vinegar in desserts, years ago I had a spate of pie making, and an American friend from Massachussets gave me a recipe for Vinegar Pie (actually it is what I would call a tart, as it doesn’t have a top crust) which is quite delicious. Also, I use a spoonful of vinegar when I make a Pavlova.
    Do you think that the use of vinegar in this pudding could have arisen from the days when the Afrikaaner wives had trekked up country and didn’t have lemons and lemon juice available and used vinegar to acidulate the syrup instead?

  6. says

    I didn’t make the vinegar pudding yet – got sidetracked by a Parsnip Cake! I was wondering if you had a recipe for Tipsy Tart? My mom used to make it all the time and I remember it being really nice, but haven’t found a recipe for it. It’s a South African thing too, I think.

  7. says

    it would seem that your dad is austrian (that would explain your name, too!) – as we austrians are born with two stomachs: one for food, one for dessert!
    and your coffee story reminds me of chris’ dad who used tp fill his cup with (filter) coffee un to 1cm under the rim, fill up with milk, then drop as many sugar cubes in as he could manage without the coffee overflowing. the older he grew, the more unlikely it was to have a coffee break which didn’t end up with a minor flooding!

  8. Karen Retief says

    Hi there
    Was so happy when I saw your recipe. My Aunt use to make it for us back home and this is my daughters XMAS wish to have some this Xmas. giving it a go!!!

  9. Malcolm Harper says

    Can you tell me what is cake flour and how do I convert ml into grama or oz?. I am trying to make the Vinegar Pudding.

  10. Malcolm Harper says

    Can you tell me what is cake flour and how do I convert ml into grams or oz?. I am trying to make the Vinegar Pudding.

  11. says

    Hi Malcom
    Cake flour is plain white flour (as opposed to self-raising flour or strong bread flour or wholewheat flour). As for the conversions, I would use this very nifty converter:
    You can input the ingredient (say, flour) and it will tell you that 190ml of flour is abotu 4 oz. Try it!

  12. says

    I made this one for X’s family in Albuquerque. And I mean his whole family on dad’s side, which is big. So I multiplied it. Which would have been fine if I did not multiply the vinegar sauce as well. In the end it turned out to be more of a slop than anything else. Silly me! His mom suggested I serve it with ice cream and pretend that’s how its done which I did and the guests loved it! One kid did actually suggest it tasted more like a baked pudding, just not baked. Haha! Can’t wait till we have a new kitchen to try it again though, and this time only for myself. :)

  13. Andrew says

    Tried this and it was a disaster, vinegary and sour,with so much “vinegar sauce” I had to pour it away, so must have done something wrong. So let’s start with the ingredients – what kind of vinegar – I used white wine vinegar. Second, “cake flour” threw me – I used self raising flour. Otherwise followed the recipe, quantities correct as far as I could judge, since I usually measure by weight, not volume.
    Any suggestions welcome!!

  14. Skitter says

    Thanks for the recipe- I googled Vinegar pudding and your Blog came up. I really enjoyed reading and forwarded the link to my sister in Canada (I’m in SA) since she’s sooooo going to relate to you on lots of levels !

    • Warren. says

      Just made this pudding. There seemed to be a lot of syrup to be pored on top of the batter mix.
      Also after 20 minutes cooking time my batter mix was still runny. I cooked it for a futher 20 minutes and the skewer came out clean. And also with the longer cooking time the vinegary syrup thickened up to.
      Just going to let it cool slighty and then serve it to my guests…