Melktert (Milk Tart)

Melktert (Milk Tart)

Most South Africans love a good old melktert which is the Afrikaans name meaning ‘milk tart’ – the classic quintessential dessert usually consisting of a sweet pastry crust, filled with a mild, creamy custard of milk, flour, sugar and eggs, baked in a round pie tin and dusted with cinnamon after baking.

Milk tart appears at every church bazaar, bake sale, home industry, supermarket, or bakery, and I’m pretty sure has been featured on every South African food blogger’s website, so why should I be left out??!!

The Traditional Tert

Traditionally, the crust consists of a home-made short-crust pastry but these days, many use ready-made puff pastry dough or just buy it whole from the supermarket . I’m not sure what my Voortrekker Great Great Granny would think of a Paleo tart, but hey it’s a sign of the times. There are numerous ways of baking the tart, some add the custard to be baked in the crust, and others call for the custard to be prepared in advance, and then placed in the crust and chilled before serving.

The filling is made with a large amount of milk and is evidence that melktert was introduced to us by the Dutch dairy farmers who settled the Cape of Good Hope in the middle of the century. To the milk is usually added sugar and eggs, thickened with flour or cornflour. Cinnamon and nutmeg is used to infuse the milk during cooking. Some recipes call for whole eggs, others require the eggs to be separated. The filling can vary in consistency from firm to wobbly. Cinnamon, is often sprinkled over the surface. It is served sliced at room temperature or chilled.

My Melktert

The crust is made with cassava and almond flour, and to allow for it to become roll-able and pliable I have added gelatin. Blended together in a food processor I then easily roll it out and place it into a tart pan and bake until crisp and golden.  Whilst the crust is cooling after baking, the custard filling (which also contains gelatin) can be made and when ready poured into the baked crust then left to set in the fridge for a couple hours.  SO so simple!!

Gelatin or Collagen?

The gelatin that I use is grassfed because gelatin is (and always has been) a highly nourishing food, as well as a very eco-friendly one. When all the more desirable parts of an animal have been removed, the skin, bones and tendons are left. These are used to make gelatin and collagen.

Our grandmothers did this in their kitchen by using the whole animal for multiple purposes, such as making broth. Making bone broth is still a great way to get the benefits of gelatin, but now gelatin and collagen powders make it even easier to add these amino acids to foods and recipes. 

I know there is a huge amount of confusion between gelatin and collagen hyrolysate as many people think they are the same thing (collagen, collagen, collagen), they definitely are NOT and cannot be mixed up when using in this recipe or any others. See the chart below of a quick visual reference or click on this link to learn more…

Image result for difference between collagen hydrolysate and gelatin

Purchasing the Ingredients

Now, I realise that grassfed gelatin imported from the US is incredibly expensive but that being said, if you can afford to buy quality then that definitely is the route to go.  Click below to purchase quality grassfed kosher gelatin



UK –amazon

I really want this melktert to be affordable to all my readers in South Africa, so I have tried and tested it using regular gelatine from the supermarket.  Yes, it works beautifully and please do go ahead and use it instead of clicking off this page to find another recipe. 

I have included clickable links in the ingredients section of the recipe to make shopping in both South Africa and UK easier for everyone.

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Melktert (Milk Tart)
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Yield: 12

Melktert (Milk Tart)


  • 3 cup nut milk, coconut milk or full fat organic milk (divided)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp cassava flour
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour (SA click here ) or arrowroot powder
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp maple syrup or xylitol - (according to taste preference)
  • 2 Tbsp gelatin powder or store bought gelatin powder
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients except the boiling water and blitz for a few seconds.
  3. Pour in the hot water and blend for a further few seconds until well mixed.
  4. Using a silicon spatula, scrape the batter out into your hands and roll it into ball until it has a play dough texture (activating the gelatin).
  5. Between two sheets of grease proof paper using a rolling pin, roll the ball into a round disc about 1-1 1/2 cm deep and wide enough to cover the circumference of the baking tin.
  6. Remove the top layer of paper and lifting the bottom sheet, gently tip the pastry on to a 25 cm loose based tart baking tin . Don't press it in!!
  7. Slowly peel off the paper, and ever so gently shape it into the tin making sure to press it in the grooves around the edges.
  8. Trim around the top (use any left over pastry to cut into biscuits or small stars for decoration).
  9. Prick the base with a fork.
  10. Bake for 25min or until golden. (May require an few extra minutes)
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  1. Once the crust is baked and cooling, add 2 cups of milk and coconut oil or butter to a saucepan and warm slowly on the stove.
  2. In a blender (or nutribullet) add the remaining ingredients including the remaining cup of milk and blend until well mixed.
  3. Once the milk and butter is steaming in the saucepan, pour in the egg mixture.
  4. Stir constantly keeping an eye on your mixture. There will initially be a thin white layer of foam which will start to settle down after a few minutes and the custard will start to become beautiful and shinny. Around this stage it will start to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Taste it and decide if you like the flavour, does it need more sweetener, essence add more if you prefer.
  6. Once thickened, pour the mixture into the cooled crust and transfer to the fridge for about 2 hours or until set.
  7. Remove from the tart tin and dust with ground cinnamon before serving.


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9 thoughts on “Melktert (Milk Tart)

  1. This tart is gorgeous! Love those delicate and special toppings on there like those delectable cherries and sweet pansies. The texture of this tart is so perfect! I love that it uses the gelatin, it works so great in desserts like this.

  2. Yum! This kinda looks like cheese cake, but you dressed it up so beautifully. I love learning about other cultures and their food. Definitely something I want to try it out!

  3. OH my gracious this looks amazing! I have never heard of a milk tart before, and I loved reading the history behind it all! How lovely! I would definitely eat this!

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