milk tart

Milk tart: Creamy custard in a sweet pastry. Image: Marele van Zyl.

Milk tart – The sweet treat that makes everything better

Enjoy this timeless dessert to the delight of your friends and family.

milk tart

Milk tart: Creamy custard in a sweet pastry. Image: Marele van Zyl.

Enjoy a taste of South African tradition with this creamy milk tart. This creamy custard tart in a pastry crust is simply divine, especially with a generous dusting of cinnamon.

Milk tart is one of those timeless desserts that never grow out of popularity. At every gathering, if this delightful sweet treat is on the snack table, it is usually one of the first to disappear.

Preparing a milk tart takes a bit of time. You first need to prepare a crust but the result is all worth the effort. After blind baking the crust, the milky custard is poured into the prepared crust.

Make sure you allow the milk tart to cool in the fridge for at least three to four hours before you serve it. The best advice is probably to pop it into the fridge overnight and go to bed. That way you will be least tempted to open the fridge every five minutes to see how your delightful South African milk tart is coming on.

When ready to serve, don’t forget to dust with cinnamon which adds that warm notes to this milky treat.

Milk tart recipe

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Marele van Zyl Course: DessertDifficulty: Moderate
Prep time


Cooking time


Cooling Time


Total time




  • Pastry
  • 125 g 125 unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • ½ cup ½ sugar

  • 1 large 1 egg

  • cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons 2 baking powder

  • 1 pinch 1 of salt

  • Filling
  • cups full-cream milk

  • 3 large 3 eggs

  • 1 cup 1 sugar

  • tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • tablespoons cornflour

  • 1 pinch 1 of salt

  • 1 teaspoon 1 pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon 1 unsalted butter

  • cinnamon for dusting on top


  • Pastry
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Using a mixer cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add to butter mixture and mix together until the dough comes together.
  • On a prepared work surface lightly floured, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Place the dough into pie dish/tin and using your fingers gently press into place (using either one or two round cake tins/pie dishes). Prick all over the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Trim edges and shape as desired.
  • Use parchment paper to cover the base of the pastry and place dry beans over the paper to weigh the pastry down. Place in the middle of the oven and bake blind for 15 minutes. Then remove the paper and beans and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes until light brown. Set aside.
  • Filling
  • In a large pot bring the milk to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile using a mixer beat eggs and sugar together.
  • Add the flour, cornflour and salt. Mix well. While the mixture is running on low carefully pour boiling milk into the mixture – making sure to slowly pour small amounts at a time (approximately ¼ cup until halfway, then add the rest) stir well. You don’t want to cook the eggs (Note: Make sure you are using the largest mixing bowl you have, so there is lots of room to pour the milk in. If you don’t have a large mixing bowl for your mixer, you can mix by hand).
  • Return to the stove and stir for 10 – 12 minutes on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Add the butter and vanilla and mix. Pour into the pastry shell.
  • Allow to cool in the fridge overnight or at least for 3 – 4 hours.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon when ready to serve.


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