I am blessed to not have a sweet tooth, which keeps me away from many foods that some regard as delicious treats, but have a disastrous effect on our general health. However, point me in the direction of a plate of savouries, and there’s no holding back! One is almost as bad as the other, unless one can apply moderation. On the sweet side, I have always preferred a plain madeira cake or simple scones, and my mother’s milk tart heads the list of favourites. The effort involved in making these ensures that they are only made on high days and holidays, and yesterday being dear departed Mother’s birthday, I felt her nudge me to open my food-spattered, hand-written recipe book that I used to record the meals that she produced for her family over many years and it fell open at Milk Tart. How fortuitous!
GERMAN PASTRY: This is a non-roll, rich egg pastry that has always been used for milk tarts, jam tarts and lemon meringue pie. Using a food mixer, cream 115g soft butter with 1/2 cup sugar, then add a beaten egg and mix. Add 2 cups flour, pinch of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Mix well, then press into greased pie dish with knuckles – should be quite thin as it rises when baked. The size of the pie dish depends on what you have – I make two small 20cm tarts which are just right for the filling. Another idea is to use giant muffin pans for individual tarts. Prick the surface of the pastry all over with a fork, then bake blind at 160deg C until pale gold, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool and make the filling.
FILLING; Blend 5 Tablespoons flour, 4 Tablespoons sugar and 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of slightly warmed milk. Boil 2 1/2 cups milk with 3 Tablespoons butter. Add blended ingredients to boiling milk, whisking all the time to prevent lumps, until thickened. Whisk in 1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the real thing, not the synthetic flavouring). Pour into prepared pastry cases, let cool, then chill in fridge. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. To be kept in the fridge, not eaten warm.