How to make the perfect milk tart

How to make the perfect milk tart

Milk tart, with its creamy, custardy filling and spiced flavour, might be one of South Africa’s most-loved sweet treats, found at nearly every farm stall, bakery and grocery store. If you’ve ever been tempted to make your own, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together some advice for making your best milk tart yet.

Baked vs fridge

What is the perfect milk tart when it comes to baked or fridge versions? Well, that depends on the style of tart you prefer. Baked milk tarts tend to be a little creamier, while fridge-set ones are firmer.

The base

As with the type of tart, the base also depends on your preference. Generally, a puff or shortcrust pastry base is the most common, but crushed biscuits (such as Tennis biscuits) are also popular. However, according to Mareli Basson, wife of top chef Bertus Basson, “The crust has to be really old-school ‘skilferkors’ (puff pastry) if it’s a baked milk tart.”

The filling

Despite its name, other flavours are also incorporated into a milk tart. Naartjie peel, nutmeg and cinnamon are the most common, although almond or vanilla extract wouldn’t be out of place here. To ensure the best custard flavour, Mareli Basson suggests infusing the milk with the orange or naartjie peel. “You can also use other flavours, like cardamom,” she adds. Once again, depending on which type of tart you’re making, there will be slight differences in making the perfect filling. For the baked variety, Karen Dudley, whose preferred recipe is based on her mother’s classic tart and includes milk and eggs, advises patience: “They need a slower oven to get that perfect set and then time to rest to get that silky slice of perfection.” If you’re firmly on team no-bake, Abi’s ultimate fridge milk tart calls for a minimum of 2 hours’ chilling time to ensure the perfect texture.

The topping

Once you’ve allowed the tart to set properly, the final flourish is to top it with either ground cinnamon or nutmeg, which is Karen’s preference. “I like it cold from the fridge – topped with nutmeg.” In Abi’s fridge-set recipe, she takes it one step further and does a brûléed topping.

Find our collection of milk tart recipes here.

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