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Trad AND Trendy - viva melktert, viva!

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The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy. Published by Human & Rousseau. 2017.

 

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 Long live the milk tart, long live! So ends the introduction to this delectable title, the sixth by sibling duo Callie and Mari-Louis. The couple is renowned for successful cookbooks, attractive styling and  cookery columns while Mari-Louis is also a judge on the popular Koekedoor television series on KykNET.

 

The very word melktert induces nostalgia for the best of Afrikaner cooking:,so much so  that few English speakers use the words ‘milk tart’. There is little else that can compete with this dessert in terms of comfort food, and right now it makes a welcome contrast to the non-stop flow of low-carb, high fat, no- sugar cookbooks that have flooded the market over the last few years. Here sugar, butter, milk, eggs and wheat flour are the basics required to  produce irresistible fare when treats are in order.

The authors open with a brief history of custard tarts, and offer a 16th century Dutch recipe which could claim to have inspired the tarts baked by the first European settlers at the Cape of Good Hope. The incomparable C. Louis Leipoldt features next with an updated version of his French-style milk tart, a deep  feuilletage crust filled with a custard flavoured with vanilla essence and a dash of brandy. Melksnysels, or milk soup, another traditional recipe – here sans sugar or egg –presents the dough on top – and the chapter includes recipes for both Voortrekker and Cape Colony pioneer melktert.

 

Classics star next, starting with “proper’ milk tart, characterised by a double frilled collar of pastry, followed by  a cardamom flavoured tart developed by the Cape Malays and the writers’ own best bake, a childhood memory where flaky leaf pastry encloses a soufflé filling. Reuben Riffel’s version combines cinnamon and nutmeg, a roux replaces the pastry in a Transvaal tarts and  peach leaves flavour one from Bloemfontein.

A chapter of tarts using a crumb base includes a coconut version with others moving away from the classic, favouring toppings such as  condensed milk meringue. Afrikaner adaptations using cans of condensed milk were developed by holiday makers in remote parts of the country. Individual milk tarts are perennial  favourite for teatime, tv time, coffee mornings and more.

The authors investigate egg custard tarts entrenched in the culinary repertoires of the UK,. USA, Europe and even  Far East, then turn to a chapter of desserts and cakes with milk tart flavour,s including vanilla cheesecake.There’s also one for Banting followers, using a coconut oil and Xylitol crust and coconut flour in the filling.

This is a very attractive hardback, with beautifully styled food photographs, as one expects these day,  finished with a comprehensive  index. A cookbook to cherish.

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