I am down to the final 5 countries in my 50 Country Challenge! Today, I present you with a Dutch-influenced South African treat: Melktert (Milk Tart). Tomorrow, I will bring Kjotsupa (Lamb Soup) from Iceland. Following that, Llapingachos from Ecuador, and on New Year's Eve, Tapas from Spain and Pastels de Nata from Portugal. December is shaping up to be a pretty tasty month!
Melktert is ubiquitous in the South African home. And, as with all ubiquitous things, it seems everyone has their own take on it--for both the filling AND the crust. This makes it difficult for the amateur chef/foodie researcher person to figure out what's the best/most authentic recipe. My pal T.J. (an authority on all things South Africa) sent me four different recipes for Melktert (thanks, T.J.!), but none made enough sense to me that I could be confident in trying them. I finally found a recipe today that seemed easy enough. I tried it out along with my first stab at Pâte Sucrée.
Melktert (from eHow.com)
-1 recipe for Pâte Sucrée (recipe follows)
-4 large eggs, separated
-2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
-2 cups heavy cream
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 cinnamon stick
-1 vanilla pod, open
-½ cup white, granulated sugar
-2 Tablespoons cornflour
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-½ cup brown sugar (soft, packed)
1. In a medium saucepan, add heavy cream, butter, cinnamon stick, and the vanilla pod. Over low heat, bring slowly to a boil while stirring. Immediately remove from heat, and set aside for at least 10 minutes. This gives the vanilla a chance to properly flavor the mixture.
2. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Set the whites aside.
3. Mix together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour. Using a strainer (to remove vanilla pod and cinnamon stick), pour the heavy cream mixture into this dry mixture. Add vanilla extract.
4. Whisk or beat the remaining egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold these egg whites into your custard mixture.
5. Pour the filling into your pie crust. Sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon and brown sugar.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until Melktert is set. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Pâte Sucrée (from Culinary Alchemy)
-3 cups (11.5 oz) (320g) AP Flour
-1 cup (8 oz) (228g) Unsalted Butter
-1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
-1/2 cup plus 2 tsp (3.5 oz) (100g) Granulated sugar
-2 Large Egg Yolks - Cold
1. Slice the butter fairly thin, and place it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
2. Mix the flours and salt with a whisk together very lightly and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Add slices of butter and toss briefly to coat them. Work the butter through the flour with your finger tips, sort of rubbing the flour into the butter or use a pastry cutter until fairly mealy. (you do not want little flakes of butter in this dough)
4. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.
5. In a small bowl, beat the Egg Yolks together. Add the eggs and mix quickly until the dough hold together.
6. Knead the dough mass three times with long kneading strokes to smooth it out cause it will still be a little mottled.(it helps if you have a bench scraper and can literally "smear" the dough across the board, scrape and repeat)
7. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten it. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
8. Preheat your oven to 375. Spread dough out evenly in a tart pan. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust. Use pie weights or a foil packet filled with dried beans/rice in the center of the tart. Bake for 15 minutes and set aside on a cooling rack. You may need to cover the edges with tin foil when baking the Melktert again.
Verdict: My verdict is of two minds. First, things went wrong on both ends with today's project. There was WAY too much filling for an 8" tart pan (even though I believe the original website calls for an 8-9" cake pan). I mean, like, 2x too much. Secondly, the Pâte Sucrée recipe was far too dry to come together at all. As a result, I added a little water and another egg yolk. That made the dough come together, but it still broke in giant chunks with even the slightest bit of pressure. I do not know WHY I so totally suck at making doughs, but this was by far the worst attempt yet (and I followed the directions, I swear!). So. Who knows.
On the OTHER hand, both the filling and the Pâte Sucrée turned out DELICIOUS. Super, super delicious. So....I consider it a win. ;)