RECIPE | Voortrekker milk tart

A traditional recipe for one of SA's favourite desserts

05 March 2017 - 04:00 By Mari-Louis Guy and Callie Maritz
Voortrekker milk tart from ‘The South African Milk Tart Collection’ (NB Publishers) by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy.
Voortrekker milk tart from ‘The South African Milk Tart Collection’ (NB Publishers) by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy.
Image: Paul Bransby

In their book, The South African Milk Tart Collection (NB Publishers), brother and sister duo Callie Maritz and Mar-Louis Guy describe parts of the recipe for this traditional Voortrekker milk tart as a “beautiful mistake”.

“People recall their grandma’s milk tart having white flakes in the custard — simply the result of beating the egg whites to very stiff peaks and not folding them in gently,” they say.

Makes: 2 large or 3 medium tarts


455g cake flour

5ml (1 tsp) salt

455g butter

30ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

1 egg yolk

250ml (1 cup) water


300g (1½ cups) sugar

1.5 litres (6 cups) milk 

280g (2 cups) cake flour

50g butter

3 whole eggs

3 eggs, separated

15ml (1 tbsp) brandy or lemon juice


100g (½ cup) sugar

15ml (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon


1. To make the crust, sift the flour and salt together. Divide the butter into three equal parts. Take about 50g butter from one part and rub into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Lightly beat lemon juice, egg yolk and water, then add it to the flour. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Knead the dough well.

3. Roll the dough out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Grate one part butter over the dough. Sprinkle with a little flour and fold the dough into thirds. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

4. Roll the dough out again. Grate over the second part of butter, fold into thirds and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Repeat the process for the last part of butter.

5. Roll the dough out again and line the tart plates. The pastry is enough to make 2 to 3 crusts.

6. The original recipe does not call for blind baking, but we almost always do to ensure the crust is cooked through on the bottom. Fill the crust with baking beans. Bake for 5 minutes at 200°C, then reduce the heat to 180°C for another 5 minutes. Remove beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.

7. To make the filling, combine the sugar and 4 cups (1 litre) of the milk in a saucepan and heat over a moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 

8. Mix the flour and the rest of the milk into a smooth slurry and stir into the hot milk. Stir often and bring to a boil.

9. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from the heat.

10. Whisk the whole eggs and the egg yolks together. Add some of the hot milk mixture to the eggs to raise the temperature and then pour this into the saucepan. Stir quickly to combine.

11. Add the brandy or lemon juice. Stir through.

12. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak stage. Fold into the custard mixture – do not combine completely as the charm of this milk tart is in the white peaks.

13. Pour the hot custard into the lined tart plates. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.


If making pastry is not your thing, you can use shop-bought puff pastry or make an easy biscuit base, says Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller. To do so, crush a 200g packet of Marie or Tennis biscuits in a food processor, adding 80g (⅓ cup) melted butter and 2.5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon. Press the crumb mixture into the base and sides of a greased 23cm tart pan or dish and refrigerate while you make the filling.