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.

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).

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:

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.