The mouth-watering treat is a combination of a flaky pastry with a creamy centre of eggs, flour, milk and sugar, says Mzansi food icon Errieda du Toit. She shares a recipe that was passed down to her by fellow foodie Theresa de Vries, who in turn learned from her mother.
“A traditional milk tart made with proper buttery puff pastry is such a magnificent heritage bake,” Du Toit says.
“Make your own pastry or buy the best quality ready made puff pastry. Home-made puff pastry is a labour of love, but as long as you work fast and make sure the butter is ice cold, preferably frozen, it won’t flop. It is also delicious stress-releasing therapy to toss the dough 100 times!”
Enjoyed with a hot cup of tea or a healthy scoop of ice-cream, or even on its own, nothing compares to our beloved milk tart. Celebrate national Milk Tart Day on 27 February and try this old-fashioned milk tart recipe.
Milk Tart Day: Homage to the sweet South African icon
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Errieda's old-fashioned milk tart
- 500g butter
- 500g cake flour
- 5ml salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 300ml ice water
- 20ml lemon juice or brandy
- Extra egg white, for overpainting
- 750ml full cream milk
- About 6 peach leaves or 2.5ml almond essence
- 80ml sugar
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 37.5ml flour
- 37.5ml cornflour
- 5ml salt
- 3 eggs, separated
Start with the puff pastry:
1. Divide the butter into three equal parts and keep it in the freezer.
2. Sift the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
3. Beat the egg yolks, ice water and lemon juice or brandy together. Add it to the flour and mix until a stiff dough forms.
4. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic – about 5 minutes. Drop the dough 100 times on a floured work surface.
5. Roll the dough into a 35cm x 35cm square and grate a third of the ice-cold butter over the dough. Fold the dough to the middle, sides on top and heads on top of each other. (Like folding a sheet.)
6. Roll out again, grate another third of the butter over the dough and fold again as described. Repeat one more time to use up the last butter. Place the dough in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight.
7. Roll out the dough and line two tin plates with the dough. Brush bottom lightly with egg white.
Now you are ready to make the filling:
8. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
9. Heat the milk, peach leaves or almond flavouring, half the sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat to boiling point.
10. Mix the rest of the ingredients, except the egg whites, with a little more milk and stir quickly into the milk mixture as soon as it starts to boil. Cook until the mixture is thick. Stir constantly. Remove from heat.
11. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the milk porridge. Spoon into the prepared dough crust. Bake for 30 minutes until brown spots begin to form on top. It’s at its best still lukewarm.
Hints and tips:
- Use peach leaves, cinnamon quill, naartjie peel, vanilla or cardamom as flavouring. A word of caution – use almond flavouring sparingly and use a little vanilla with it to soften the flavour.
- Three or four apricot kernels can be cooked with the milk for an almond flavour.
- If the egg yolks are pale, use a pinch of turmeric to deepen the colour of the custard.
- Use a flat plate with an overhanging edge, such as a tin/enamel plate, which distributes the heat well. If the tin plate is very thin, use two plates on top of each other.
- Always roll dough in only one direction – away from you. Do not stretch the dough, otherwise it will shrink back with a vengeance.
- For an even more impressive puff, place an extra strip of dough, about 4cm wide, around the edge of the pie plate (directly on the plate, or on top of the dough lining). Brush with ice water so that the dough layers can stick.
- Do not put the rolled out dough in plates in the fridge, as this can cause the crust to be tough.
- Pour the filling piping hot on the rolled out dough to prevent the dough going tough.