Sunday, July 5, 2009

South African 'Melktert' recipe

This weekend I again attempted to make a tart that I've failed to make successfully before. It's a traditional South African recipe called 'Melktert' or directly translated as milktart. A melktert is usually a shortcrust pastry base with a filling not dissimilar to a custard tart, but much more milky and softer than a custard tart and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon. This really is comfort food although South African, the recipe has some Dutch influences.

For a bit of history on this tasty dessert:

Before the Suez Canal was built, all ships travelling east to the spice islands of what is now Indonesia had to sail round the tip of South Africa. The Dutch and their East India Company were a force to be reckoned with along the spice route for a large part of the 17th century, and South Africa was a convenient stopping place on the long journey from Europe to Asia.

The first permanent Dutch settlement was established at the Cape of Good Hope around the middle of the century. The cinnamon used in this recipe would have been imported from Indonesia; and the milk would have come from the increasing number of Dutch farms that sprang up around the Cape to supply the Dutch ships and their scurvy-ridden crews with fresh vegetables, meat and dairy products.

Extract taken from an article by Cecily Layzell on

I'm happy to say that for the first time I have made a successfull melktert! This is with thanks to a new recipe I tried that I adapted from here. However, I used my own shortcrust pastry recipe which I'll share with you too. If you're not up to making your own pastry, just buy those ready made pastry cases or bake a ready-rolled shortcrust pastry from the supermarket... but give pastry making a go, it's fun! Just remember to keep all your ingredients as cold as possible, and it will help if you have a blender or mixer.

I'm also dedicating this recipe specially to my blog friend Ivy from Little Ivy cakes... she always does great recipes on her blog and loves trying new things, so this one is for you Ivy - I hope you get a chance to try this one yourself one day.

This recipe is enough to make 2 tarts.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 200g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 300g plain flour (I put mine in the freezer for 20 minutes on a hot day)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 small chilled eggs beaten
Cut the butter into cubes and add it to the food processor or mixer (use a flat blade in the mixer) along with the flour. Blitz the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs and there are no big lumps of butter. Add the sugar and blitz again. Now add the beaten eggs only a little at a time (you don't have to add all of it, instead check the consistency, it musn't be too wet) until the mixture binds into a ball. Dust the dough with flour and form it into two discs and cover with clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Butter two pie/tart dishes. Now roll the two discs out to about 3- 5mm thickness or to fit the dishes. Once the dough is in, prick liberally with a fork to prevent the pastry rising. Put some parchment paper and beans inside to blind bake the crust.

For the Filling
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
  • cinnamon to sprinkle over the top
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl, and then slowly add the dry ingredients whilst whisking.
Bring the milk to boil in a large saucepan, then remove the milk from the heat and add the mixed ingredients slowly into the milk whilst stirring to avoid lumps. Turn the stove top down low, and return the saucepan on the stove and slowly boil, stirring until the mixture has thickened - do not be tempted to remove from the heat before the mixture has thickened to a thick custard consistency or the filling wont set. Remove from the stove again, and add the butter and the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the two pastry cases whilst the mixture is still hot. Note: This tart does not get baked again, the heating of the milky filling is sufficient for the tart to set.

Allow to cool, cover with clingfilm and put the tarts in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours. Once the tart filling has set, sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon. Serve cold on it's own or with fresh berries as a dessert, or enjoy it as a teatime treat!

And now I have to show you my poppies that I have grown from seed... I am so excited that they have opened! They are Laura Ashley seeds, and I was expecting them to be more pink than dark purple, but I still think they are gorgeous! I'd send you all some seeds if I could. Well, actually, if any of you do really do want some seeds, leave me a comment before next Sunday saying you've emailed me, then email me with your address at laundrybasketcase @ rocketmail .com (remove spaces) and I will try and collect some when the pods have dried in the autumn and post them to you with instructions how to grow. I can't guarantee they'll be exactly the same, because the bees might be cross-pollinating them, but it' worth a try.

Have a great week!


Steph said...

oh wow! those poppies are beautiful :) must be really satisfying to have grown such beauties from seed. pud looks very yummy too. glad it worked out for you this time around.

Ivy said...

Awe, I am all teared up. Thanks so much, You're so sweet.
And I love your flowers, the're absolutely gorgeous-Good job!

Caroline said...

Have to try this to see if I can fail at it.
I will be sure too but it sounds yummy!!

Judy said...

Oh that tart sounds divine. I hope you saved a piece for me. The poppies are beautiful. Be proud of all your hard work.

Michele said...

Thanks for the tips. The pie looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool place you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Sincerely yours
Jeph Normic

warren van der said...

wonderful recipe until you try to bake it> How long and what temp?????

LaundryBasketCase said...

Hi Warren, this milktart doesn't get baked, the idea is to bake the crust first, then the heating of the milk filling is heated un til the micture thickens - once it is nice and thick, you simply pour it into the crust and refridgerate it to set. I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

yummy, scrummy, delicious!

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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