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Let’s talk about South African custard tart. Are you really even a South African if the thought of a crispy sweet-crust pastry filled with creamy custard and sprinkled with cinnamon doesn’t get your mouth watering? Vla Yskastert or “melktert” as it is sometimes called is a good old South African favourite. You grew up with your grandma making it, the church fete peddling it, Spar and Checkers selling it, and even the alcohol industry bringing out a creamy reminiscent flavoured shooter just like it. Yes, the cold custard cream pudding of your “ex” country is calling your name and demanding that you have fond memories of it!

What is Melk Tert (Vla Yskastert) and Where Does it Originate From?

If you are like most South Africans and salivate at the mere thought of a slice of custard tart (melktert), then you will have some idea of its uniquely smooth, creamy texture and flavour. Melktert is a fridge pudding that is extremely similar to the English Custard Tart, but if you give it a good taste and suss out the recipe; you will find that the South African version is made with fewer eggs and a bit more milk.

Is Vla Yskastert really South African? In a way it is. The pudding originated in the 17th Century in Cape Town when the Dutch settlers made their appearance and settled in the area. It quickly became a firm favourite in every household in the country at the time. Of course, if you page through old South African fashioned cookbooks from “back in the day”, you will find that there are basic melktert recipes out there, yet over the years these recipes have been tweaked and changed to create unique and “family favourite” versions of South Africa’s favourite tart.

Traditional Vla Yskastert – Is there a Traditional South African Custard Tart Recipe?

One of the biggest problems that South African ex-pats face when they move to another country is not their financial and tax emigration, but rather finding their local fix of Vla Yskastert. If you have been hunting the shelves of your local grocery store and coming home empty-handed, much to the dismay of your expectant family, it’s time to get into the kitchen and whip up a few melktertjies of your own! You might even want to make some for your new friends and colleagues!

You might find recipes that use a puff pastry whereas others use a sweet crust or shortcrust. You might find recipes that call for the cinnamon to be sprinkled on the top whereas others require it to be infused in the custard filling. Some melktert recipes call for stovetop cooking only, whereas others need to be baked in order to harden the crust and set the filling.  The trick is to find a recipe that is easy for you, but also creates such as drool-worthy custard pudding that you can bribe people with it!

You are about to learn the secret recipe to good old fashioned melktert. Print it, try it, and pass it down from one generation to the next.

What You Need to Make Custard Tart aka Vla Yskastert

Gathering your ingredients is an essential part of the process. Don’t substitute any ingredients for others and your melktert will come out just right. Below is a list of ingredients for both a regular and vegan version of the traditional South African melktert.

Melktert Ingredients

For the Pastry:

  • ½ a cup of butter (you can use vegan or vegetarian margarine too)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 large egg (you can also use 2 tablespoons of aquafaba for a vegan/vegetarian option)
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt

For the Filling:

  • 4 cups of cow’s or plant milk of your choice (almond milk works great)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (you can also use vegan margarine)
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour (Maizena)
  • ½ a cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs (or 4 tablespoons of aquafaba)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon for sprinkling

Melktert Baking instructions

Now it’s time to get to work and put all your ingredients together. Below is a bit of direction.

For the Pastry:

Note that this is not the type of pastry that can be rolled. Instead, it must be pressed with fingers into the melktert pan or dish you plan to use.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees Celsius (190 Degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Cream butter/marge and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved
  • Add the egg or aquafaba and beat well to combine
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture and then blend it well using your hands. Work the dough into a softball
  • You can add a touch more flour to keep it from sticking to your hands, but don’t overwork the dough during this stage or your pastry will be tough and unpleasant
  • Press the pastry into the chosen pan remembering to make a lip onto the sides of the dish, to hold the filling. This particular pastry recipe can easily create a crust for a 5cm x 20cm pie dish. Use less if you have a smaller dish
  • Place the pastry into the oven and let it bake for 10 minutes or until golden in colour. Then, remove it and let it cool. At this stage, the pastry will be slightly soft. Don’t worry; it will become crispier as it cools

For the Filling:

  • In a bowl, mix the flour, Maizena (or cornflour), and sugar and then beat in 2 eggs (or 4 tablespoons of aquafaba). Keep beating until there are no lumps and then set this mixture to one side.
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter/marge, vanilla, and cow’s or almond milk. It should just come to the boil and appear a bit frothy. Make sure all the butter/marge is melted and then remove the mixture from the heat.
  • Take ½ a cup of heated cow’s or almond milk and stir it into the egg/aquafaba and flour mixture to form a sloppy roux. This stops big lumps from forming in your filling. Then, stir all of the egg and flour mixture into the hot milk that is inside the saucepan.
  • Place the saucepan back on the stovetop and heat the contents. Stir continuously while the mixture simmers and thickens. You know it is thick enough when it looks like big air bubbles are popping out of the mixing and making a “bloop” noise at the same time.
  • Simply pour this thick mixture into your created pie shells and then sprinkle with your cinnamon. Let it cool in the fridge where it will thicken all on its own.
  • Serve when cold and set.

Last Word

Making traditional South African Vla Yskastert is really that simple. Regardless of where you find yourself in the world, there’s absolutely no reason to go without your “melktert” fix. Now you can make your own, using the above custard tart recipe!

FinGlobal: Financial Emigration Specialists

With the help of FinGlobal, we can teach you how to handle your financial and tax emigration in such a way that you get the most out. We make financial emigration and tax emigration just as easy as our traditional melktert recipe. With 10 years of experience in our wake, we believe we are just the team to assist you with all of your tax and financial emigration needs. If you would like further assistance and the recipe to financial and tax emigration success, simply get in touch with us. You can send us an email or give us a call – one of our consultants will advise you further.