Quite a few years ago, ahem, I was living in a share house with a South African girl in London. Don’t judge me, I’m Australian, that’s what we do when we are 21. Anyhow, she gave me a delightful recipe for Melktert aka milk tart. It’s a classic Johannesburg childhood sweet apparently. I loved its wobbly-boobed custardy yumminess.
Since that heady milky vanilla-ry goodness got hold of me, I’ve always been a sucker for any recipe in the same vein. When I came across this Steve Manfredi version which included cardamom and apples – two other things I love – how could I say no?
The recipe calls for plain flour sifted through a fine sieve – I say forget that, I’m lazy and “OO” flour will do.
It also calls for vanilla essence which I’m distinctly NOT a fan of. Why would I use a synthetic version of vanilla when I can use the real deal? Are you loco Manfredi? Evidently. Vanilla extract – ok. Vanilla paste – ok. Vanilla essence? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Get thee behind me satan. Vanilla essence is, according to my learned sources at wikipedia, a solution of synthetic vanillin in ethanol derived from phenol whereas vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water. Vanilla paste is pure vanilla extract with real vanilla bean seeds. A clear winner for the lazy ones amongst us. I keep a bottle of paste in the cupboard at all times and, when I can’t be bothered getting some actual vanilla beans, the paste does the trick.
4 small to medium new-season apples
500ml un-homogenised, organic or biodynamic milk
50g plain flour, sifted through a fine sieve
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Small pinch ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 tsp castor sugar
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Peel apples, core and cut into 5mm-thick wedges. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sifted flour, lemon rind, cardamom, vanilla essence and salt until smooth. Any lumps of flour need to be completely dissolved.
Thoroughly grease eight individual tart moulds with olive oil and ladle about 80ml mixture into each. Carefully arrange apple wedges on liquid. Don’t worry if they float or sink; it won’t affect the final dish. Sprinkle 1 tsp castor sugar evenly over the surface of each pudding.
Place on trays and bake in oven for about 20 minutes until just set. Remove and let cool before serving.
Serves: 8 (not bloody likely!)
Recipe: Steve Manfredi
Very pretty photo: SMH