Chefs share 8 trade-secrets to making a fantastic milk tart at home
Hidden secrets to making milk tart that you won’t find in a recipe!
National Milk Tart Day comes around every February, reminding us of our unconditional love for the sweet custard treat. And while the debate rages on about what constitutes a ‘classic’ or ‘traditional’ milk tart, one thing is certain – there’s no end to the creative adaptations and interpretations when it comes to milk tart inspired recipes on the internet.
Recipes often give you the most direct way to a dish but if you want to really outdo yourself,..here are just a few different things you can try when it comes to the beloved milk tart.
1. Always use half milk and half cream
Chef Isca Stoltz, who runs a catering company and is the sous chef at Cape Town’s Belly of The Beast says it adds an extra rich and velvety texture.
2. Blind bake your pastry
Silwood trained pastry chef Robert Garlick, who worked for heavyweights like Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc says, ‘I feel that there is nothing worse than soggy pastry! It’s meant to have a bite to it so give it a bite, give it some crunch. In addition, having done this step allows one more control when cooking the milky custard filling as it’s not as essential to have the oven super hot (as the pastry is already cooked)”.
3. Toast your spices and infuse them overnight
Robert says that both of these will maximise the flavour of your milk tart and having infused whole spices for a longer period gives them that much more presence.
4. Try using Tennis Biscuits in the base with some toasted pecan nuts and beurre noisette (browned butter)
Isca says doing this really adds a homey feel to the dish. And for some extra flair, add a bit of orange zest to the base if you have some.
5. Whip your egg whites to a soft peak with a squeeze of lemon juice
Robert says, “I prefer a lighter touch so I gently whip my egg whites and I find that this helps to achieve those lovely soft peaks. Adding a little bit of lemon juice will help stabilize the egg whites so it means you will maintain the volume you’ve created when mixing them with the milky custard mixture.”
6. Always aim for the best quality ingredients
“This should go without saying”, says Robert,“as these are the basics of a milk tart. Don’t reach for the opened bottle of cinnamon sticks or powder that’s been sitting in your cupboard since Christmas two years ago…please.”
7. Make it a day in advance
Like a good curry, milk tart is always better the next day, says Isca. We tend to agree with her on this point.
8. Get your mom to make it
“Much like a bolognese, there is just something about your mom’s milk tart”, says Héloïse Haupt of Luna Bakery in Pretoria. “I actually requested that my mom make me a milk tart for my birthday last year, it felt like the world was falling apart with Covid, there were restrictions everywhere and I just wanted a slice of normalcy, something that could take me back and put a huge smile on my face. Something that could comfort me.”
Try these recipes:
Milk tart pancake mille-feuille