Turmeric is not the first thing you’d imaging putting inside a milk tart – and goodness knows that this might upset a few people but this turmeric milk tart, is rather special for me. Heritage day might mean braaing for most South Africans, but for me, it’s the day I dig out my maternal grandmother and great aunt’s tattered recipe books and make something that represents MY heritage – what makes me unique. This year, it is this turmeric milk tart; a spicy twist on my Nanna’s milk tart inspired with some other flavours that make me, me.
My maternal grandmother probably turned in her grave when I added turmeric, ginger and cardamom to her recipe, but it’s a nod to my most recently discovered roots. While digging up our family history, my father discovered that my great great great grandmother was from Mumbai – while travelling for work in India, my great great great grandfather fell in love with her and they moved back to Cape Town to get married and so the Williams family begun.
With my mom’s side being Afrikaans (the infamous Hildagonda Duckitt is in her lineage – the first women to write a cookbook in South Africa nogals too!) and my dad’s side being a mix of Welsh, some British and a dash of Indian, this recipe is an ode to MY heritage – and it just so happens to be delicious too (and trendy – golden milk is super fashionable!).
Turmeric Milk Tart
1 x 400g roll puff pastry, thawed
Egg white, to glaze
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
100ml (60g) cake flour
25ml )16g) corn starch
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 tsp turmeric (use fresh turmeric, if you can find)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp almond extract
3 egg whites
Cinnamon/turmeric for dusting
To make the tart case, line a 25cm tart tin (an enamel plate works well too) with the puff pastry, trimming off the sides to fit.. Measure the edge of the pan and cut another strip to fit. (if you want to make a braid, simply cut it in 3 and plait the strips). Brush a little egg white on the strip and press it onto the edge. Brush the base of the pie crust with egg white too. Refrigerate until needed. Preheat the oven to 260 °C (240°C if fan-forced). For the filling, bring the milk to a boil with the cinnamon stick, cardamom and peppercorns. In the meantime, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, egg yolks, spices, almond extract and remaining milk to make a creamy paste. Strain the hot milk over the paste, whisking continuously then return to the heat and cook until thickened. Whisk in the butter. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, gradually add the remaining sugar to form a glossy meringue then fold into the still-warm custard. Pour the mixture into the baked tart case and bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Lower the temperature to 200 °C (180°C if fan-forced) and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until wobbly but just set. Dust with ground cinnamon, if desired.
TIP Try and find an old-fashioned enamel ‘blik bord’ to bake the milk tart in – it really makes a big difference in making sure you don’t get a soggy puff pastry bottom! You can find them at flea markets and they’re dirt cheap.