Every South African family has inherited a milk tart recipe from their grandmothers and everyone proudly proclaims their milk tart or ‘melktert’ is the very best one around. In fact, milk tart competitions are often held, where judges select the local milk tart winner. It’s a dessert that is steeped in the history of South Africa – and it certainly has stood the test of time!
The origins of the South African milk tart
Milk tart originated from the Dutch settlers when they arrived in the Cape in the 1600s – and the high milk content is credited to the thriving dairy farming community in the Cape of Good Hope. The original recipe of the milk tart is credited to Thomas van der Noot’s book ‘Een notable boexcken van cokeryen’. A traditional milk tart consists of a sweet pastry crust filled with a creamy milk custard consisting of sugar, eggs and flour. The tart is baked in a round pie tin and then dusted with cinnamon once it has set. The filling of the milk tart can vary from firm to wobbly and some people prefer to eat it warm, while others prefer it cold.
To enjoy your own delicious milk tart, try this easy recipe:
Milk tart recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups milk
- 3 egg white
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Coat a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with vegetable oil cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and milk. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric mixer. Fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pie plate, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.
- Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the centre is set when you gently jiggle the pie. Serve hot or cold.
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