Art In Pastry: Milk Tart Recipe

Milk Tart top down view, square tart filled with topping and decorated with pink flower stripes


  • For the pastry:
  • 1 batch sweet shortcrust pastry (page 10)
  • For the filling:
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 160g (53/4oz) caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1½ tablespoons plain flour
  • 450ml (16fl oz) milk
  • 150ml (5fl oz) double cream
  • 35g (11/4oz) cold unsalted butter, grated (optional)
  • Variations and additions:
  • Add ground cinnamon to the pastry or dust the top of the tart with ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg.
  • Infuse the milk with aromatic spices – for example cardamom, star anise and cinnamon – by heating together for 30 minutes, before discarding the spices.
Courtesy of Octopus Books.

We have a special extract of Art In Pastry by Julie Jones. If you’re feeling fancy, you can try making this milk tart recipe.

I’m all for a tart that allows for artistic faffing: a blank canvas on which you can lay all kinds of extra decoration, be that petals, dustings of cinnamon or pastry overlays. The only limit is your imagination. Custard tart, panna cotta tart and lemon tart are all perfect examples of a ‘blank canvas’ baking scenario, as is this traditional South African melktart. Not only is it perfect for decor, this sweet treat is also the ultimate comfort food for all ages. The thickened milk filling is made on the hob and requires no oven time, but it’s important to allow plenty of cooling time for the tart to set fully before decorating and slicing.

Makes: 1 large tart or 6 small tarts


  1. Line your tin with the pastry and blind-bake and trim according to the instructions on page 13. Leave the baked pastry case in the tin for filling and finishing.
  2. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornflour and flour, then set aside.
  3. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan over a low heat and heat very gently. As the mixture reaches boiling point, remove from the heat and pour a little into the egg mixture in the bowl, mixing well. This will temper the egg yolks. Now pour in the rest and whisk well.
  4. Wash out the pan, then pour the custard mixture through a sieve back into the clean pan. Set over a low–medium heat and whisk continuously for 2–3 minutes until thickened. As the mixture heats up, the flours will cook out and thicken the liquid in the process. Add the grated butter, if using, and whisk to combine. The butter will add an extra richness, making the custard a little silkier.
  5. Sieve into a large jug for easy pouring, then pour it into the pre-baked tart case, while still hot. Gently shake the tart tin so the mixture levels off well; you could use a palette knife to smooth off further if you wish. Allow the tart to cool fully, then place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours to set before decorating and serving.

Art In Pastry

Cover of Art In Pastry by Julie Jones book, featuring a colourful circle tart

Photography by Andrew Montgomery, courtesy of Octopus Books.

For more recipes like this one, grab a copy of Art In Pastry. Expressions: Art in Pastry: Recipes and Ideas for Extraordinary Pies and Tarts by Julie Jones is published by Kyle Books, £26.00,

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