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Melktert (milk tart)

Melktert is the stuff that dreams and memories are made of. Melktert (which means "milk tart") is a classic – and much loved – South African afternoon dessert and tea-time treat. Being a baked custard tart, flavoured with cinnamon, it is part of South Africa’s Dutch and Cape Malay culinary background.

Each melktert baker has their own favourite recipe. Some prefer to bake it in a traditional puff pastry, while others use a slightly sweetened short crust pastry. We prefer the traditionally method but because a good puff pastry needs lots of skill and time, we take a shortcut and buy quality ready-made puff pastry that’s made with butter.


  • Puff pastry, such as Edmonds' ready rolled butter puff pastry
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter
  • ½ cup (60 gram) flour
  • 6 tablespoons (66 gram) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Grease a 20 cm pie dish
  2. Line pie dish with pastry
  3. Bake it blind for about 5 to 10 minutes at 200°C
  4. Gently heat milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick and butter.
  5. Remove from heat when it starts simmering, cover with a lid and leave for 30 minutes to allow the cinnamon stick to infuse the milk.
  6. In mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar and a pinch of salt with a little water into a smooth paste. Add egg yolks.
  7. Slowly add milk to the mixture while stirring.
  8. Return to saucepan and simmer slowly while continually stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens.
  9. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and allow it to cool down.
  10. Whip the egg whites until firm, then fold the whipped egg whites into custard. Pour into prepared crust.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C
  12. Reduce heat and bake for a further 20 minutes at 160°C

Traditionally, the milk is infused not only with cinnamon, but also with cardamom pods, almond and naartjie peel. (Naartjies are citrus fruit that is similar to mandarins.) For even more flavour, you can add a vanilla pod, split in half across its length with the seeds scraped out with the back of a knife, to the milk. Remember to remove the pods, quills and peel from the milk before adding rest of the ingredients.