The Traditional South African Melktert

The melktert (milk tart) is traditionally South African. The Dutch settlers in the Cape in the 1600s brought the recipe with them. It is made of a sweet pastry crust, filled with a creamy custard, sprinkled with cinnamon, which was introduced to South Africa by Javanese slaves. The tart is served sliced, chilled or room temperature.




  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 125g butter
  • pinch of salt


  • 4 ½ cups milk
  • 2 ½ tbsp cornflour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a big spoon of butter



  • Cream butter and sugar well together and add the egg, before beating well.
  • Add all other ingredients – making a stiff dough.
  • Press into one or two round cake tins/pie dishes.
  • Bake blind for 15 minutes at 180°C (use wax paper to cover the pastry and place dry beans/rice over the paper to weight the pastry down). Then remove the paper and beans/rice and bake for an additional 5 minutes until light brown.


  1. Bring milk to a gentle boil.
  2. Beat eggs well and add sugar, flour, cornflour and salt.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Pour boiling milk into the mixture and stir well.
  5. Return to stove and stir for 10-12 minutes on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  6. Add butter and vanilla essence and mix through, then pour into cooked shell.
  7. Allow to cool in the fridge (you do not need to cook the tart any further)
  8. To decorate, sprinkle with cinnamon.

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