Milk Tart

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Milk tart, or Melktert, is a pale, creamy custard tart dusted with cinnamon. It's a very popular South African pie and you can buy it at any grocery store in SA. I haven't met any South African who doesn't love it!

It's just the right amount of sweetness, and not too rich, which makes it perfect to go with afternoon tea or coffee or a treat after lunch. I'll admit to even having a slice for breakfast! In fact, I could probably finish off a whole tart in one sitting *blush* (not that I've ever done that! Yet...) :)

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Reading the ingredients you might think it looks quite plain, and there are other variations floating around the net, like adding peaches etc, but in my opinion, it's perfect the way it is. Uncomplicated, moreish and delicious. Milk tart can be made with different types of crusts or even crustless, but there are 2 kinds of milk tart, one has a baked filling while the other's custard filling is set by chilling in the fridge. I prefer the set-in-fridge type which my mom in law makes. I begged her for her recipe and here it is!

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If you've never had it before, you'll see why I call it Moms' Magic Milk Tart. Although I admit that I've made a few slight tweaks (sorry Moms!), the original recipe calls for more sugar in the filling but I prefer it less sweet so I've halved the sugar in the custard.

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Since writing this post when I first started my blog, I've also found a pastry that I prefer to the recipe Moms gave me. It's more similar to the pastry I enjoyed from a particular store-bought milk tart. Pâte Sucrée is a very easy pastry to make, that is, there's no worrying about the butter staying chilled or over kneading. It's meant to be more like a shortbread texture rather than a drier and flakier shortcrust. It's tender and melts in your mouth.

Technically, it could also be called a Pâte Sablé, but whatever its name, it's officially my favourite kind of pastry for sweet desserts. It's possible that most other bakers already know about this type of pastry, as the more I read the more I realise it's very popular for tarts with creams, custards and fruit, but as someone who doesn't make a lot of tarts or pies, I'd never heard of it before. I still have a lot to learn!

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The way I learnt to make it is the traditional way, and the method would seem a bit odd and rather complicated, but I've done my best to "modernise" and simplify it ;) Most people are familiar with shortcrust or puff pastry, but I think once you try Pâte Sucrée, you'll add it to your collection of recipes!

Another thing I like about this pastry recipe is that you can make enough for one tart, whereas the pastry recipe I originally had posted made two tarts, and because it only had one egg, wasn't easy to halve. The Pâte Sucrée recipe is easily halved or doubled, and in this case, makes enough for just one tart. Although, I'd still make two, they won't be around for long!

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The only caveat about the Pâte Sucrée recipe is that it needs medium eggs instead of large, it needs a little extra fridge chilling time, and you have to bake it blind.

As far as the eggs go, I've seen recipes for it that requires one whole large egg, so you could give that a try if you don't have any medium eggs on hand. As for baking blind, I actually think it's better. It might be daunting if you've never baked blind before, but I promise, it's not as complicated as it sounds, and it gives you a perfectly shaped shell. 

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As with any tart, you could also make these as small individual pies. Smaller still if you want to serve them as easy finger desserts, also a popular option in South Africa. You could make four or five individual tarts with the amounts given for this recipe.

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If you love custard, cinnamon, tarts or pies, try Milk Tart! It's simply delicious. 





110g Plain Flour

Pinch of Salt

55g Unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Medium Egg Yolks

55g Caster Sugar

1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract


500ml (2 cups) Full Fat Milk

1/4 cup Sugar

1 Large Egg

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Plain Flour

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Cornflour

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon for sprinkling



Pastry Shell:

  • With an electric beater or wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together until well combined
  • Add the egg yolks and and vanilla and beat until well combined
  • Tip: You should have a smooth buttery paste
  • Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough
  • Tip mixture out onto a clean work surface and knead until the dough is completely smooth and uniform
  • Form pastry into thick disc
  • Place pastry disc between two sheets of parchment paper and refrigerate for between 20-30 mins, just to firm it slightly
  • Once chilled, leave the dough between the parchment, and roll the pastry out to roughly the size of your baking tin, making sure to roll it out slightly bigger than needed
  • Peel away the top piece of parchment and place pastry side down into your baking tin
  • Gently peel away the other sheet of parchment
  • Press the pastry into the tin, making sure to get the pastry into the corners
  • Tip: This pastry is very forgiving, so if tears form, simply patch them up with the excess you will trim off
  • Tip: Because of the high butter content, you don't need to worry about greasing or dusting your pan beforehand
  • Trim off any excess pastry sticking up higher than the sides of the baking tin, use offcuts to fix tears or thin patches
  • Dock the pastry with a fork
  • Tip: That is, lightly prick the surface of the pastry with a fork, this will help avoid large bubbles from forming
  • Refrigerate until firm, between 30-40 mins
  • Pre-heat oven to 190°C (170°C fan assisted) / 375°F
  • Crumple up a sheet of parchment so that it's soft and flexible
  • Place crumpled sheet into the chilled pastry case and fill with baking beads, uncooked rice or beans
  • Bake blind for 10 mins
  • Using the corners of the parchment paper as handles, remove parchment and beads/beans/rice and bake for a further 5 mins, or until a light golden colour
  • Tip: If you want to help keep the pastry from absorbing moisture from the filling and staying crisper, first use beaten egg yolk to egg wash the pastry before returning to the oven to finish baking
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
  • Prepare filling



  • Bring milk and butter to the boil
  • Mix rest of ingredients to a smooth paste
  • Once milk comes to the boil, remove from heat and slowly pour in other ingredients, whisking slowly to avoid lumps
  • Return to heat and mix until thick
  • Pour into baked shell and sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Refrigerate until chilled



Adapted from a recipe given to me by my mom-in-law :)

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Other Tips: 

Can be made a day ahead.

I like to make my milk tarts in pie/flan dishes with high sides, there's enough pastry for it and that way I can also make extra filling, and more filling = more yumminess! Increase the filling by half the amount of the recipe.

This can also be made into single serving mini tartlets, simply grease and press the pastry into a muffin tin.

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Posted on September 26, 2009 and filed under Sweet.