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Safari Spoonful: South African Farm Milk Tart

If you’re not already familiar with this custard dessert, it is as beloved and ubiquitous in South Africa as apple pie is in the United States. It is also one more reason we are happy to work at Bushtracks, where the newest addition to the Bushtracks team, Gayle Lehman, whipped one up to share with us for a Friday coffee break.

Close up of South African Farm Milk Tarts

Gayle was born in Kariba, Zimbabwe, but spent most of her childhood and university in Johannesburg, South Africa, and began her adult life in Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal. After a short stop in England, Gayle and her family moved to the United States, first to Atlanta and later to Healdsburg, California. Gayle’s background in public relations, sales and administration, in combination with her knowledge of Africa, makes her a most welcome addition to the Bushtracks team – and that was before we tasted her delicious milk tart!

Gayle’s traditional farm milk tart recipe is as well-traveled as she is, and has connected her with her roots in South Africa for the past 30 years. The ingredients are all readily available, with the exception of South African Maizena, which can be substituted with corn starch (heaping tablespoons of it). Like apple pie, it doesn’t require a special occasion to serve, but Gayle recommends you serve it very cold by preparing it the night before, and chilling it overnight in the refrigerator. Delicious on its own, your milk tart requires no fruit garnishes or other toppings, but for the perfect pairing, serve this sweet, creamy dessert with a strong cup of coffee. As they say in South Africa, Lekker Geniet!

South African Farm Milk Tarts

South African Farm Milk Tart Recipe



2 cups butter 3 1/3 cups flour 1 cup boiling water


2 heaping tablespoons flour 3 heaping tablespoons maizena or corn starch salt to taste 6 tablespoons sugar 6 cups milk 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring (I also like to substitute with almond, lemon or orange flavoring) 4 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons butter


Prep Time: 60 minutes

Serves 16-20

To make the crust, cut the butter into small pieces. Place in the bottom of two 9-inch tart or pie pans (or to make the individual tarts pictured above use 18 small pie tins). Add the boiling water on top to melt. Add the flour and stir. Leave to cool down while you make the filling.

Bring 5 of the cups of milk and butter to boil. Meanwhile mix the egg yolks, flour, corn starch, salt, sugar, vanilla flavoring, and last cup of milk to a paste. When the milk and butter mixture is boiling, stir in the paste mixture. Stir continuously until it is similar to a “porridge” consistency.

Once the crust has cooled pour the filling into the crust. Then allow the filling to cool. Chill overnight or until serving.

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