More than just a mix of ingredients and a creamy finishing flourish to the proudly South African braai of boerewors and spanspek‚ the milk tart has come to represent the comfort of home.
For those who may not have had the honour‚ the delicacy is “known for its light texture and strong milk flavour; traditional milk tart is typically made up of a sweet pastry crust with a creamy filling”‚ according to Michael van Niekerk‚ founder and director of baking goods company‚ Deeghuys.
For years February 27 has served as a day of tribute to a dessert that has brought families together and enriched many a South African home through the celebration of National Milk Tart Day – and today will be no exception.
Van Niekerk describes the dessert as a “national treasure”.
Dale Tropham‚ sales assistant at De Backery‚ agrees and says the success and reason for hitting the mark every time is its simplicity.
“It’s still one of the most popular desserts; we sell a lot every day‚” she says. “The trick is to leave it as simple and bland as possible and you can let people add to it‚ but they usually just add cinnamon.”
Of its history‚ Van Niekerk explains: “It is thought to have been created by the Dutch as a result of the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in Cape Town in 1652‚ which was used as a resting point for ships along the Netherlands-Indonesia route.
“Cinnamon was brought to the Cape via the European and South East Asian ships and was combined with the fresh dairy products available from the Cape Colony farms‚” he says.
National Milk Tart Day was launched in 2013 by Weg Magazine.
Some cultures have similar desserts‚ such as the traditional Greek galaktoboureko‚ Spanish leche frita‚ Italian panna cotta‚ traditional Portuguese custard tart (pastéis de nata) and the Chinese egg tart (dan ta). “However‚ nothing tastes quite like a local milk tart‚” says Van Niekerk.
Deeghuys will run a competition to find the best tart.
Judge and project developer Hesmarie Visagie says the dessert reminds her of her grandmother and family vacations: “her recipe and just the taste of a milk tart reminds me of that family time together.”
Proper Milk Tart
Try a recipe for Proper Milk Tart from the cookery book, The South African Milk Tart Collection by Kallie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy, published by NB