South African Melktert, old Dutch dessert cake
When we think of South African desserts, we are soon talking about Jan Ellis powders, asyn powders and brandy powders, but milk tert is probably the most famous dessert cake of all. Melktert, in our own Dutch milk pie, has been made in South Africa since the first Dutch settlers settled on the Cape and consists of a sweet crust dough filled with a custard of milk and egg. Although it resembles the European custard cake, the milk tert contains more milk, which makes it lighter in color and has a stronger milk flavor. Bake this product from our distant ancestors and enjoy milk tert!
Three kinds of black tert, resepte vir boere
There are three types of black tert that also have variations in the recipe, the first type has a custard filling that is baked in the oven and requires a little more work, but is probably the most traditional. In the second type, the crust is made from crumbled biscuits with melted butter and the custard is prepared on the stove, then poured over the crust and then placed in the refrigerator to stiffen to give the desired texture.
This is not difficult to make and is eaten warm in the winter and cold in the summer. Finally, there is the crustless milk tert. Without exception, Dutch colonists were farmers, so the Melktert is prepared according to the old-fashioned ‘resepte vir boere’.
Melktert is such a popular traditional recipe that it can also regularly be found on the menu in South Africa.
Milk tert recipe
We make the cake in the traditional way according to the recipe from “Ma Annatjie se resepteplakboek”.
Ingredients for the dough:
- 80 grams of soft butter
- 80 grams of sugar
- 250 grams of sifted flour
- 125 ml of milk
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- 1 sachet of baking powder
- cinnamon sugar for decoration
Ingredients for the filling:
- 1 liter of milk
- 60 grams of sugar
- 25 grams of flour
- 25 grams of custard powder
- pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- pith from 1 vanilla pod
Preparation of the dough:
- Mix butter and sugar together with a whisk or hand mixer,
- beat the egg in a bowl and add it to the butter and sugar mixture,
- add the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix well together,
- add the milk little by little until the dough is spreadable,
- put the dough in an oven dish or cake tin and spread it on the edges as well.
Preparation of the filling:
- Take 250 ml of the milk and dissolve the flour and the custard powder in it,
- heat the remaining 750 ml of the milk to boiling point and dissolve the sugar in it,
- split two of the eggs and beat the yolks together with a whole egg and the salt,
- mix the egg mixture with the custard and flour mixture and beat well together,
- now pour this mixture into the heated milk, add the pith of the vanilla pod and put it back on the fire,
- bring it again, stirring constantly, to a boil while the flame mixture thickens,
- note: the mixture should not boil because then the eggs will curdle,
- the custard is good when it comes off the sides of the pan,
- take the pan off the heat, put a lid on and let the custard cool completely,
- beat the egg whites until stiff and add them to the completely cooled custard, scoop, do not stir,
- pour the flame mixture over the dough and bake the cake for about 40 minutes at 180º Celsius,
- the filling will bulge but this will collapse again, let the cake cool when it comes out of the oven.
Before serving, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the cake, garnish with a little fruit or a flower sprig.
Melktert or Buttermilk pie, remarkable similarities
In the south of the United States there is a cake that has a remarkable similarity with the milk tert, the difference is that this American cake is prepared with buttermilk instead of the regular whole milk that is used in South Africa. Buttermilk pie is considered a “Southern Classic” in cities like New Orleans and is often served on traditional holidays. Here too, colonial influences, in this case French, undoubtedly played a major role in the composition of the original recipe. The cinnamon sugar is baked in the oven to create a crispy sugar crust like with crème brulee, this is also a cake to lick your fingers, so delicious!