Melktert: a traditional South African recipe

I have fond memories of making melktert since high school, when our single Jersey cow Annabelle, produced more creamy milk than either we or the dozen or so municipal workers could consume. So began my little enterprise of melktert making for the local ‘tuisnyrwerheid’ (home produce store).

Melktert is distinctly different to custard tarts in texture and taste due to the much higher proportion of milk to egg in melktert.  This results in a creamy, fluffy and light filling that is quite moreish.

When I got home from work on Thursday, hubby declared that Mary the neighbour of our housesit had invited him for tea and would I please, please make a melktert for tea.  Being asked so nicely, I kindly obliged.

Recipe
Pastry
Cream together 125ml (1/2 cup) of brown sugar with 125ml (1/2 pack) of butter.  Add beaten egg and cream further. Add 500ml (2 cups) of flour with about 10 ml (2 tsp.) of baking power and a grind of salt. Work until mixture comes together to forms a stiffish ball.  Roll out and press firmly into two medium size flan tins.  Make sure you press the corners in tightly.  Bake at a medium heat until golden brown (which should take about 25 minutes).

Filling
Prepare a mixture of 3 egg yolks mixed with about a cup of sugar (less if you don’t like your tarts too sweet)  40ml (2 1/2 tbsp.) of flour and 40 ml (2 1/2 tbsp.) cornflour and a pinch of salt.  Use a dash of milk to make easy the mixing.  Bring a litre of milk to the boil (let it foam up) then slowly add the boiling milk to the above custard paste and whisk well.  Return to the stove a patiently bring to the boil again, stirring frequently.  Add 3 whipped egg whites (soft peak) to the milk mixture at the start of the reheating process.

When mixture has thickened stir in a blob of butter (about a tablespoon) and small cap of vanilla extract.

Pour into baked shells, sprinkle with mainly cinnamon but you may like to add a tiny dash of nutmeg too, according to taste.

Please let chill properly in the fridge before you tuck in.

According to us, this can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and supper and anytime in between 😉

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It is one of those recipes were exact measurements aren’t needed and technique counts for more than measurements.

My technique tips would be to work confidently but lightly with your pastry. Whipping the egg white will add volume and lightness but take care when folding it into the custard that it does not coagulate into lumps. Rinse the pot out before boiling the milk to prevent a layer of film sticking to the bottom.

For more South African recipes see: http://www.justeasyrecipes.co.za/

Warning:  I do feel a little a bit of conflict posting this recipe when reminded by my sister, who has survived breast cancer, that milk and sugar are a no-no for her.

Are you some kind of nomad?

Housesitting has been in my periphery for a long time.  My feisty mother-in-law (hello Hazel!) is employed to house-sit in Cape Town, South Africa to deter squatters taking over people’s second homes.  This was the extent of my knowledge. It was something retired peogle did.

Then towards the end of 2014 our son declared his desire to join the Royal Air Force. Or RAF as he casually put it.  GULP.  This is a mom, who cried actual (many and large) drops of tears into her cereal the day he went for a college taster session (because my baby was growing up).  I was crying happy-sad tears.  Knowing ‘this day’ would eventually come we gave him our blessing, saying there were two things we wanted for him; to be happy and follow God.  After a couple of false-starts I was acutely aware that empty-nest syndrome would hit me hard.

Extract from https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/empty-nest-syndrome

Time and energy that you directed toward your child can now be spent on different areas of your life.  This might be an opportune time to explore or return to hobbies, leisure activities or career pursuits.

After a couple of weeks of moping about and deep philosophical discussion around what we would do ‘if money were no object’ we decided on two main things.

  1. Self-build and live sustainably
  2. Travel and see more of this amazing world we live in

So what was stopping us?

In short my career.  I had painstakingly built up a career as a Chartered Financial Planner over the last decade, after relocating to the UK.  It is something I am good at and can help people in a very personal and unique way.  The income is quite handy pretty essential too.  Plots and housing don’t come cheap on this small island.

George, then casually asked me, one Saturday morning, if I thought we could house sit. Being the researcher that I am I googled the gaggle out of housesitting. Scouring for tips and stories online I saw quite a few in our nearby vicinity, including a particularly appealing house sit for 3 months, which would coincide with our son’s leaving dates.

We joined Trustedhousesitters for a tentative 6 month trial. I created our profile, adding photos, requesting references from friends, acquaintances and even my boss (who is a lovely chap). We were all ready to rock and roll, except I was too scared to apply for the dream sit.  What if I applied and we didn’t get it?  It would be another disappointment to deal with, our hopes and dreams dashed once more.

Successful we were, and I can hardly believe two months of housesitting have gone and in exactly a month from today we will have finished our first house sit we applied for.  It is more than we imagined.  We live in the most gorgeous village, complete with village shop that bakes croissants on a Sunday morning. The two dogs we look after have crept right into our hearts.  And we have had the most amazing time exploring the South Hams and Dartmoors over winter.

Someone asked me if I was some kind of Nomad?  No,  not yet.  We are following our dreams with the resources we have at our disposal.