Every year on 27 February, we celebrate National Milk Tart Day by raising a glass to our national treasure that has been baked into South African heritage in cross-cultural kitchens since the 1600s.
Every family, every baker and every community has its own unique melktert narrative, something this traditional custard tart shares with Roodeberg. This cherished South African wine has stood the test of time for over 70 years with a story in every bottle.
The traditional milk tart with its familiar sweet crust and creamy custard filling is an enduring favourite that originated in the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century. Early Dutch recipes included almond milk, which is possibly why almond essence is still used in many recipes today. The addition of cinnamon can be attributed to early Cape Malay cooks. Over the centuries, milk tart recipes have been adopted and adapted by women of diverse cultures and is ever-present at school cake sales, church bazaars and important events and celebrations, with closely guarded family recipes handed down over generations.
Today there are endless variations from classic oven-baked tarts, to simpler crustless or pre-baked versions with the filling prepared on the stovetop.
Regardless of your preference, a milk tart will always impress especially when enjoyed with an enchanting glass or two of Roodeberg Classic Rosé. The bursts of strawberry, candyfloss and raspberry embraced by rose petals and Turkish delight, will spruce up the humble milk tart into a memorable experience.
“The floral notes of the Rosé playfully pick up the aromatics of almond, vanilla and citrus in the milk tart filling. It’s an unusual and fun combination,” says Ilse van der Merwe, well-known food writer at www.thefoodfox.com.
For Milk Tart Day, Ilse has opted for a simple recipe that delivers big on flavour and texture. Her silky stovetop milk tart with a buttery baked crust is infused with vanilla, almond essence, cinnamon and lemon rind. To keep the tradition alive, Ilse suggests using an old school enamel plate for baking, and decorating the top with cinnamon using ornate stencils.
As intriguing as the story of the Milk Tart, Roodeberg also conjures up a lifetime of memories. For many Roodeberg evokes fond recollections of people, places and occasions, and of sharing special moments with family and friends.
Roodeberg Classic Rosé 2021 is available at leading stores countrywide or the Roodeberg Emporium at around R85 a bottle. For online sales visit https://www.kwvemporium.co.za/.
Ilse van der Merwe’s Milk Tart Recipe
@the_foodfox on Instagram www.thefoodfox.com
Who can resist South Africa’s most iconic custard treat? That is why we have a national Milk Tart Day to celebrate the unmistakable smell of cinnamon, nostalgia and comfort. There are a million ways to make a milk tart – baked or unbaked, with a traditional flaky pastry crust, sweet shortcrust pastry, a no-bake buttery cookie crust, or no crust at all, with or without vanilla and almond extract – the list is endless. We hope you will enjoy trying this simple yet delicious recipe at home. Get creative and treat yourself with a glass of Roodeberg Rosé while baking.
For the crust
(Makes 1 x 22cm tart)
1 ½ cups (220 g) cake flour
1/3 cup (45 g) powdered icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
125 g cold butter, cubed
1 X large egg yolk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) iced water
Spray a 22cm tart tin/dish with non-stick spray and set aside. Place the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and cold water and continue to process on low speed until it just starts to come together in clumps. Turn out into the tin and press evenly into a thin layer all over (you might not need all of the pastry). Prick all over with a fork and place in the freezer. Now preheat your oven to 190°C with the rack in the centre while the dough firms up. After 20 minutes, transfer the cold tin to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool while you make the filling.
For the filling
2 cups (500 ml) full cream milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips lemon rind, thinly peeled (optional)
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
½ cup (125 ml) cream (or substitute with more milk)
½ cup sugar
2 X large eggs
3 tablespoons corn flour (Maizena)
2 tablespoons cake flour
5 ml vanilla extract
2 ½ ml almond essence
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for dusting
Place the milk, butter, lemon rind and cinnamon stick in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat. While it is heating up, place the cream, sugar, eggs, corn flour, cake flour, vanilla and almond essence in a mixing bowl and mix well with an electric beater. When the milk mixture just starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and remove the rind and cinnamon stick. Now pour the cream and egg mixture into the warm infused milk, stirring continuously. Place the pot back on medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken (2-3 minutes). Turn down the heat to very low and continue to stir until the mixture is very smooth, thick and glossy (1-2 minutes) – taking care not to let the bottom burn. Remove from the heat and pour into the baked pastry case. Smooth the top and leave to cool at room temperature. To use the stencil: place it gently on top of the cooled tart, then sift cinnamon all over to reveal the pattern. Lift the stencil and serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
Tip: If your custard mixture seems to have thickened with some clots, use and electric beater to make it silky smooth before you pour it into the prepared base. It’s quite forgiving!