THE Milk Tart or Melktert, as it is called in Afrikaans, is a dessert loved by many South Africans, so much so that it needed it’s own special day. Traditionally described as a shortbread crust with a milky filling, this classic dish is said to come from the Dutch in the 1600s.

Here is Fatima Sydow's Milk Tart recipe:



200g soft to the touch butter

1 cup of caster sugar

1 egg 2 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp baking powder 2 cups and

3 tbs of cake flour


1 litre full cream milk

9 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

3 cardamom pods

3 cinnamon sticks

4 tsp cornflour or custard powder

fine cinnamon powder for sifting over milk tart



In a bowl, using a hand whisk, cream together the soft butter and sugar for two minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla essence and whisk further for a minute.

Add the dry ingredients and, using a spoon, mix until the dough comes together.

Use your hands next to bring the dough together and smooth. It will be soft but not sticky.

Wrap with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and take off cling wrap.

Roll out on a well-floured surface into a large rectangle about the same size as your pan.

In this recipe I’m using a basic large oven pan that has been greased with butter.

Transfer the dough to the pan, should it break, not to worry as you will now use your fingers to press the dough evenly and up the sides of the pan, ensuring there are no holes.

Use your fingers to make the edges neat and straight.

Place in the fridge until ready to fill with the custard filling.


In a large plastic jug, pour in 900ml of the milk, the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.

Heat in the microwave for three minutes. In a cup, stir the remaining milk and cornflour until well mixed and no lumps.

Add the sugar and the cornflour and milk mixture to the warm milk and stir well, remove the whole spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs for a minute.

Add a quarter of the warm milk and whisk for a few seconds.

Add the rest of the milk and vanilla essence and whisk well for about 30 seconds, then pour the custard back in the jug.

Take out your biscuit base from the fridge and place in a preheated oven at 180°C .

Take the jug with filling and gently pour into the oven pan while in the oven.

Close the oven door and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until you see the edges of the biscuit base turn a dark golden brown.

Remove from the oven, sift lightly with fine cinnamon and allow to cool completely until cold. Cut and serve.

Note: you may use a saucepan to heat milk. The jug serves as a vessel for pouring to prevent any spills.