South African Recipes

Milk Tart Recipe: South African Dessert History, Tips & More

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Wassup! Today, we’re diving into the sweet, creamy world of a traditional South African delight, Melktert (Milk tart in English). This dessert is not only a treat for your tastebuds, but also a beautiful testament to South Africa’s diverse culinary culture. Stick around to discover its fascinating history, secret tips, and more!

Milk Tart

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • 1 20cm wide tart tin (No worries if you don't have a tart tin, a pie dish will do the job just as well)
  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Medium saucepan
  • 1 Whisk


  • 125 g Digestive biscuits, crushed (for the crust)
  • 75 g Unsalted butter, melted (for the crust)
  • 500 ml Milk (for the filling)
  • 2 tbsp Cornflour
  • 100 g Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • A pinch of salt
  • Ground cinnamon for dusting


Crust Instructions

  • Preheating your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Combine the crushed digestive biscuits and melted butter in your mixing bowl.
  • Press this crumbly mixture into the bottom of your tart tin to form the crust.
  • Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes to set.

Filling Instructions

  • In your saucepan, warm up the milk but don't let it boil.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornflour, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence, and a pinch of salt until it's well mixed.
  • Gradually whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture, a little at a time to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, and heat it gently while stirring continuously. You're looking for a thick, custard-like consistency.
  • Once thickened, pour the filling into your baked crust.
  • Dust the top with a bit of ground cinnamon
  • Put the tart back into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. You want the filling to set but still have a slight wobble to it.
  • Let it cool, then pop it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours before serving.
Keyword Milk tart

Melktert History

Milk Tart, or ‘Melktert’ as it’s known in Afrikaans, is a cherished part of South African cuisine, with roots tracing back to the Dutch settlers who arrived in the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century. The term ‘Melktert’ directly translates to ‘milk tart’ in English, which perfectly describes this creamy, custard-like dessert.

Its original recipe, like many others of that era, emerged from a need for practical yet tasty food, making use of readily available ingredients like milk, sugar, and eggs. Over the years, South Africans have made this dessert their own, introducing variations while maintaining the essence of the traditional Milk Tart. The end result is a delightful dessert that’s now an integral part of South African food heritage.

Tips & Tricks

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of crafting a perfect Milk Tart. The crust is key – combine the crushed digestive biscuits and melted butter properly for an even, firm base that holds the creamy filling. When preparing the filling, remember to add warm milk gradually to the egg mixture. This prevents the eggs from scrambling, achieving a smooth consistency.

Baking the tart can be a bit tricky; aim for a set, but slightly wobbly filling. And don’t forget the dusting of cinnamon – it gives the Milk Tart its signature finish. Remember, patience is the secret ingredient here, especially when it comes to chilling before serving!

Best Occasions to Serve South African Milk Tart

Whether it’s a festive gathering or a casual Sunday lunch, Milk Tart is a perfect dessert for any occasion. It’s especially loved on National Milk Tart Day, celebrated on 27th February in South Africa. But honestly, any day is a good day for a slice of this creamy, custardy goodness.

Recipes & Sides That Go Well With Melktert

Roasted Coffee: A cup of strong roasted coffee perfectly complements the sweet creaminess of Milk Tart.
Rooibos Tea: What better to accompany this South African classic than with our famous Rooibos tea. The delicate herbal flavour helps accentuate every bite.
Fresh Berries: A handful of fresh berries can add a fruity contrast.
Whipped Cream: For an extra indulgent touch, a dollop of whipped cream works wonders.
Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream can elevate the whole dessert experience.

Ingredient Alternatives for South African Milk Tart

Gluten-Free Biscuits: If you’re looking to make a gluten-free version, simply replace the digestive biscuits with gluten-free ones.
Almond Milk: For a dairy-free Milk Tart, almond milk is a good substitute.
Honey: Want to avoid refined sugar? Opt for honey for natural sweetness.

Nutritional Facts

Calories: A serving of Milk Tart contains approximately 250 calories.
Carbs: You’re looking at around 28g of carbs per slice.
Sugar: Each serving has about 20g of sugar.
Fats: The fat content is roughly 12g per serving.
Protein:Each serving offers about 5g of protein.
Fibre: A serving of Milk Tart has approximately 1g of fibre.
In summary, while Milk Tart is a delightful treat, it’s worth noting that it does have a high sugar content. However, it also provides protein, and when enjoyed in moderation, can certainly fit into a balanced diet.

Troubleshooting (Common Problems)

Runny Filling: If your filling is too runny, you might not have heated it long enough. Continue stirring over low heat until it thickens.
Cracked Crust: This could be due to over-baking the crust. Ensure to bake just until set.
Scrambled Eggs: Add warm milk gradually to the egg mixture to prevent them from scrambling.
Overcooked Tart: Remember, the tart should still wobble a bit in the middle after baking.

Milk Tart Alternatives and Similar Recipes

Custard Tart: Similar in texture and taste, a custard tart offers a delightful vanilla-infused taste.
Rice Pudding: If you’re after creamy comfort, a traditional rice pudding will hit the spot.
South African Jam Tart: This fruity tart is a South African classic filled with your favourite jam.
Pumpkin Pie: For a spicier, autumnal treat, a homemade pumpkin pie is a fantastic alternative.
Banoffee Pie: Looking for something a bit different? Try a banoffee pie – it’s a sweet combination of bananas, cream, and toffee.
Enjoy these recipes and remember, cooking is an adventure – don’t be afraid to try new things!

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