Comforting Creamy Milk Tart

Milk tart is a delicate and popular South African dessert, with a flaky base and a luxuriously creamy custard filling, topped with a dusting of cinnamon.

The deliciously creamy milk tart, or melktert in Afrikaans, is a traditional South African recipe that originated in the Cape of Good Hope.

The Dutch settlers introduced the semi-set, milk-based custard tart and the Cape Malay influence resulted in the distinctive addition of cinnamon. The end result is something celebrated in homes across South Africa and the world, as the recipe continues to be shared and enjoyed by everyone who tries it.

Known for its silky and luxurious custard filling, it’s far from your average custard tart. As the milk tart’s name suggests, the custard has a stronger milk flavour and much lighter texture than pasteis de natas or other custard tarts, because it’s made using a much higher ratio of milk to eggs. Rich and delicately sweet, the filling is beautifully smooth with a hint of vanilla, rounded off by a buttery pasty base and touch of cinnamon on top for an aromatic note.

The flaky pastry crust holds it all together and adds to the milk tart’s unique and decadent taste and contrast of flavours. Milk tart can be enjoyed chilled from the fridge or served at room temperature or slightly warmed, making it an incredibly versatile dessert that’s well-loved by all types of palates.

In the old days, milk tart was flavoured with naartjie peel (a South African mandarin) to add a a bit of citrus acidity. Nowadays, even more imaginative flavourings are added, including almond essence and marula syrup, as variations on the traditional recipe.

From our earliest memories in the kitchen, and throughout our lives, milk tart has always remained a Sunday afternoon teatime treat. The most important thing to get right is the perfect custard texture. It needs to set just slightly. Like Goldilocks, it’s got to be not too much, and not too little.

This recipe is our family favourite and delivers a perfect result every time. So easy to make and gone in minutes.

Comforting Milk Tart

Comforting Creamy Milk Tart

Milk tart is a delicate and popular South African dessert, with a flaky base and a luxuriously creamy custard filling, topped with a dusting of cinnamon.
Servings 12
Total Time 35 minutes


For the crust

  • 125 g butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 185 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the filling

  • 35 g flour
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 1.2 litres milk
  • 150 g sugar
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 1 vanilla bean split in half
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon


For the Crust

  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
  • Add the egg, flour, baking powder and vanilla and mix until combined
  • Press the pastry into the tart tin and chill for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 180 deg C
  • Lay a piece of greaseproof paper inside the pastry crust ensuring that it covers the edges.
  • Fill with baking beans.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges start to lightly colour.
  • Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and continue baking for a further 5 minutes.

For the filling

  • Mix together the flour, cornflour and custard powder, adding a little of the milk to form a smooth paste.
  • Place the remaining milk in a saucepan with the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla bean and cornflour
  • Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and simmer for three minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and baking powder and set aside.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  • Fold the whites into the custard mixture, remove the vanilla bean and pour into the pastry case.
  • In a small bowl mix together the caster sugar and cinnamon powder then sprinkle the mixture over the custard filling.
  • Place in the refrigerator and allow to set.


If you are short of time, store bought pastry works just as well.
Course: Sweets and Desserts
Keyword: melk tert, melktert, milk tart, south african, sweets and desserts, tart
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Made from non-stick thickened aluminium carbon steel, this pan has an easy-push removable bottom and is completely dishwasher safe.

03/07/2024 09:16 pm GMT

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