See South African Milktart Recipe

This South African milk tart or melktert is one of the desserts that I grew up with.  I love the sweet crust pastry, filled with milk custard and topped with cinnamon. Living in South Africa, my mother used to go to "Fontana" bakery every Friday and buy a milk tart.  While in high-school, I visited a South African classmate in London.  Her mother was an excellent baker and I got this recipe from her.  The only changes I made to her recipe was a reduction in sugar!

Tips for making South African milk tart.

You can make the sweet crust pastry entirely by hand as shown in the youtube video or make it with a food processor which will take a fraction of the time to make but the rest of the time cleaning the parts so it probably doesn't save much time!

Sweet crust pastry should be powdery when combined.

Sweet crust pastry

Making the crust.

When making the crust for South African milk tart, make sure that your pastry is uniform throughout the pan, especially in the corners and the edges.  Do not make the edges too thin as this will brown and burn easily.  Do not make the corners too thick.

The crust will have a tendency of shrinking slightly so press the crust so that it overextends the pan slightly.

instrustions for sweet crust pastry

Making the custard.

Since it's called South African milk tart, the custard is primarily made from milk and eggs.  Making the custard requires patience.  First you need to temper the eggs.  Tempering eggs is adding a little bit of warm liquid to the egg to raise the overall temperature of the egg before adding it to the hot liquid.  This will prevent the eggs from scrambling!  When the milk and eggs are combined and heated,  the custard needs constant stirring to avoid developing lumps.

However, if lumps accidently develop, remove the custard from the heat and use an immersion blender to break down the lumps.

If the custard is too thin, it will not set properly so make sure that the custard is fairly thick and coats the back of the spoon when the spoon is removed and leaves streaks when stirring.  This is when you know that the custard is thick enough.

Uncooked custard

Uncooked custard

Cooked Custard sticks to spoon

Cooked Custard

Pour the cooked custard into the cooled pie crust while warm and using a sieve, sprinkle cinnamon powder on the top of the milk tart.

South African milk tart is delicious at all temperatures.  When warming up the milk tart, the custard will not be as firm and will not hold its shape.  However, this is the way I like it!

Since the milk tart is made from milk, it will require refrigeration if not consumed within a few hours.  This is authentic South African milk tart.  Just the way I remember it from childhood!  If you're in the neighborhood and make this, I'm always available for tea! Enjoy.

See South African Milktart Recipe


Michelle Sam
Step-by step guide to make an authentic milktart made with a soft shortbread crust topped with a milk custard and plenty of cinnamon. Goes perfectly with a cup of tea.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine South African
Servings 16 servings
Calories 178 kcal



  • 110 grams butter
  • 100 grams sugar ½ cup. You can reduce if you want it less sweet
  • 1 egg extra large
  • 240 grams all-purpose flour 2 cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • tsp salt

Milk Custard

  • 1065 ml whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 100 grams sugar ½ cup. You can reduce if you want it less sweet
  • 4 eggs
  • 43 grams butter 1.5 oz
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 400° fahrenheit
  • Cream butter and sugar
    110 grams butter, 100 grams sugar
  • Beat eggs
    1 egg
  • Sift dry ingredients
    240 grams all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ⅛ tsp salt
  • Add beaten eggs and dry ingredients to creamed butter. DO NOT OVERMIX. Mixture should be crumbly
  • Press into 3 small pie pans or 2 medium pans.
  • Poke a few holes on the bottom of the crust. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until crust starts to brown


  • Heat milk in a thick bottomed saucepan
    1065 ml whole milk
  • Add butter when warm
    43 grams butter
  • In another bowl, beat eggs and dry ingredients together
    2 Tbsp flour, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 4 eggs, 100 grams sugar
  • Add a small amount of heated milk to egg mixture and stir until smooth
  • Pour warmed egg mixture back into saucepan
  • Return to stove and cook over medium low heat. Stir continuously until mixture turns to a thick custard.
  • Pour custard into baked crust shells
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Allow to cool



Serving: 1pieceCalories: 178kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 6gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 101mgPotassium: 153mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 201IUCalcium: 120mgIron: 1mgNet Carbohydrates: 29g
Keyword cinnamon, custard, melktert, milk, milktart, south africa, south african milktart
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was or if you have any questions or suggestions!
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