Thursday, 17 February 2011

Milk tart

This is very much an Afrikaans tradition, although it bears some resemblance to an English custard tart. Of course, there are myriad different ways of making it, and everybody's Granny's recipe is 'the best ever'. Some of them involve baking the crust and filling together in the oven, some are crustless, some use a biscuit base.... the variations are endless. In this recipe, the crust is baked blind, and the custard prepared on the hob.

This recipe came from my sister-in-law, Ann, and has become one of my signature dishes. The crust is so delicious, I could eat it without the filling! In fact, I use this crust recipe any time I need a shortcrust pie base, omitting the sugar for savoury dishes.

Oven temperature

250ml plain flour
20ml sugar
100g butter, melted
Pinch salt

500ml milk
30ml butter
2 eggs
60ml sugar
30ml cornflour
2.5ml almond essence (and this is the critical factor, for me!)
Ground cinnamon. Lots of ground cinnamon.

Poke it full of holes...
  • Make the crust first. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  • Stir in the melted butter.
  • Press into a pie plate and prick it all over with a fork.
  • Bake for about 10-12 minutes until turning golden.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • While the crust is cooling, or once it has already cooled, you can begin on the filling.
  • Gently heat the milk, sugar and butter together until the sugar has dissolved. Leave it on the hob for now. You will come back to it.
  • Mix the cornflour with a little cold milk.
  • Beat the eggs and add the cornflour mixture.
  • Bring the warm milk mixture on the hob up to the boil, taking care not to scald the milk.
  • Add the cornflour/egg mixture, stirring gently and taking care not to set the eggs as you pour. I find this works best if I pour a little of the hot mixture into the eggs first to raise the temperature, and then add that back into the saucepan.
  • Keep stirring until the sauce thickens, and it just reaches boiling point (signified by the occasional, large bubble that 'gloops' up to the surface).
  • Remove from the heat and add the essence. It is very easy to forget this step. Don't. It's what makes all the difference.
  • Pour into the pie crust.
  • Sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon. Leave to cool.
  • Serve as a dessert or with tea/coffee.

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