An easy, delicious milk tart recipe (egg custard pie)

milk tart recipe
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Milk tart is a traditional dessert in South Africa. It is such a big deal, South Africans celebrate Milk Tart Day on 27 February every year!

Milk tart, also known as “Melk Tert”, is basically an egg custard pie with a delicious pastry crust. What makes it special in South Africa, is the generous dusting of cinnamon on the top.  

As is expected, there are tons of milk tart variations in South Africa:

  • there’s baked and unbaked (the recipe below is unbaked);
  • there are recipes made with milk, condensed milk, or a combination of milk and cream;
  • some recipes include almond extracts and/or nutmeg;
  • and you can basically use whatever crust you like.

How to create the perfect milk tart filling?

  • Use a combination of milk and cream. To get that extra rich, velvety texture, you will want to go with a combination of full cream milk and cream. (Having said that, we had a lot of 2% milk once and I was worried it would be wasted, so I made a few milk tarts with it. No one complained).
  • Consider whipping your egg whites. This is not compulsory but it creates a slightly lighter egg custard pie.
  • Aim for the best quality ingredients. As with everything else in life, what you put in is what you get out. For the best flavors, use quality eggs, milk, and vanilla. (On a few occasions, I’ve made milk tarts with the ingredients I had on hand, so regular eggs and vanilla. It was still good but if you want the richness and the depth of flavor, you’ll want the quality products. Also include quality spices! I once added a cinnamon stick to infuse the milk, and I had to throw everything out because the cinnamon stick was bad.)
  • You can make your egg custard pie a day in advance. Milk tart tastes great on the day you make it, but for some reason, it tastes better the next day.
  • Allow your milktart to set. Setting your egg custard pie is optional but recommended because it delivers a smooth top. Simply spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray, then press it onto the surface of your milktart. This also prevents a skin from forming. 
  • Use a tea sift to dust cinnamon on the top.

The milktart crust

You can use any crust you like. Here are a few options:

  • Graham cracker or tennis biscuit crusts – you can make one yourself.
  • Store-bought crusts;
  • Home-made crusts. The cookie crust below does not require any rolling out.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to blind bake your pastry. A soggy pastry is not good with this egg custard pie. A milk tart crust is meant to have a bit of crunch to it.

Easy Milk Tart Recipe with Cookie Crust

Prep Time: 20mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Cooling Time: 4hrs | Servings: 8 | Difficulty: Easy

Milk Tart Ingredients

3 cups milk (separated)
1½ cups cream/heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose/ cake flour
4 tablespoons corn starch
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
cinnamon for sprinkling

EASY NO-ROLL COOKIE CRUST
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg

Baking your cookie crust

  1. Using soft butter, cream the butter and powdered sugar together.
  2. Add the egg and mix well.
  3. Add your flour, salt, and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Grease your pie pan.
  5. Using your fingers, press the dough into the pie pan.
  6. Chill for approximately an hour – you need the butter to be cold before baking. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit.
  8. Prick the dough with a fork.
  9. Cover the dough with parchment paper/ baking paper. Pour over your beans (or whatever you’ll be using for blind baking. (Blind baking means to pre-bake the crust.)
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes in your preheated oven until golden. 

Your no-bake milk tart filling

  1. Combine 2½ milk and all the heavy cream in a saucepan.
  2. Add the butter. Heat slowly over low heat.
  3. In a large measuring cup, add your sugar, flour, corn starch, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly until smooth.
  4. Once it is thoroughly mixed, add the remaining half a cup of milk to the flour mixture. Stir to fully incorporate the milk into the flour mixture.
  5. Once the milk and butter are heated and ready to come to a boil, you are ready to add the flour mixture to the pot.
  6. Grab a fork or whisk. Use one hand to pour the flour mixture into the pot of milk, and stir continuously with the other hand.
  7. Turn up the heat and continue to stir until the custard thickens.
  8. Once it starts to thicken, turn the temperature to low and allow it to boil slowly for 1-2 minutes. (This lets the flour cook through so that you don’t have that flour taste).
  9. Pour the custard into your prepared cookie crust. 
  10. Optional: Spray a piece of baking paper/ parchment paper with cooking spray. Press the sprayed paper onto the top of the milktart—this helps to prevent a skin from forming.
  11. Place your milk tart in the refrigerator and allow it to set for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  12. Before serving, dust the milk tart with cinnamon. Slice and serve.
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Hi. We’re the Chelten’s. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year, so we want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

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