Tag Archives: tart

Blueberry and almond crostata

22 Dec

Crumbly, gooey blueberry & almond crostata (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few years ago I posted this recipe for a peach galette. By the way, the French call it a galette, the Italians call it a crostata. Now that I’ve given all the credit to the French previously, I suppose it’s time to give the Italians a turn.

Since the first time that I made this rustic free-form tart, it has become my secret weapon. I’ve made it numerous times with cling peaches, sometimes with nectarines and once with plums. Every single time the result has been magnificent: buttery, flaky pastry enveloping an oozing almond paste centre along with slightly tart and soft fruit on top. It’s a revelation to many who taste it the first time. The simplicity and intensity of it all is just superb. And can you imagine adding a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream? The stuff dreams are made of, literally.

Almond paste: (enough for at least 2 crostatas)

  • 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
  • 250 ml icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Pastry: (makes 2 medium size crostatas)

(Recipe for pastry by Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g cold butter, diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ice cold water

Filling: (enough for 2 crostatas)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • about 1,5 cups fresh blueberries – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas


For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients except the egg white in a food processor. Add half the egg white and process until it comes together into a ball (add more egg white until you get to the desired consistency, add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours. It won’t ever freeze solid because of the sugar content, but it is much easier to handle when it is hard enough to grate.

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the icy water all at once while the motor is running. As soon as the dough starts to come together, remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Transfer carefully onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, leaving a 3cm border around the edges. Coarsely grate the frozen almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with blueberries. Fold the edges over carefully, keeping the look of the edges rustic. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

Milk tart

25 Aug

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there was ever a prize for the most popular sweet treat in South African heritage recipes, it must surely go to the milk tart. You’ll find more recipes for milk tart in local cook books, websites and blogs than probably any other local dish. Why? Because it’s so flipping delicious, of course! Even superstar Jamie Oliver included a recipe for SA milk tart in his recent book, Jamie’s Comfort Food, causing a stir on Instagram with the pictures.

Traditional milk tart is usually flavoured with lemon or naartjie rind, cinnamon and a drop of almond essence – no vanilla. This sets it apart from many other custard tarts across the world, many of which come quite close to what we know and love as milk tart in South Africa.

I’ve only published one recipe for milk tart on my blog before, so it was time for a revisit of this stunning South African classic. The previously published recipe is for a crustless version with a fantastic texture – light and almost foamy because of the added whisked egg whites.

The recipe that I am writing about today is more traditional, made with good quality store-bought puff pastry (takes quite a lot of work out of the equation) and with a filling that is silky smooth and not too sweet. It makes 2 standard 20-23 cm round shallow milk tarts or one large deeper tart if you have a very big tin and want to feed a crowd. Tasha had this magnificent vintage fluted deep pie dish, so I made it in her tin and the result was quite spectacular.

Don’t be alarmed if your tart cracks on the surface – mine did because of it’s size. Doesn’t change the taste at all, of course, and just adds to the home-baked authenticity.

Tip: Use loose-bottomed tins if you want to turn out your tart. Otherwise, use authentic enamel tins or other oven-proof dishes and slice the tart straight from the tin/dish.

Ingredients: (makes 2 medium tarts or 1 large)

  • 400 g puff pastry, thawed
  • 1,25 liters (5 cups) milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large piece of naartjie peel
  • 125 ml sugar
  • 125 ml cake flour
  • 60 ml butter, cubed
  • 6 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
  • ground cinnamon for topping, finely sieved


  1. Grease your baking tin/s with non-stick spray and pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to fit your baking tin/s. Line the tin/s carefully with the pastry, trimming the edges and gently pressing the pastry into the fluted edges. Line with non-stick baking paper and fill the surface with uncooked rice or beans (for blind baking). Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the rice/beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while making the filling.
  3. Turn down the oven to 180 C.
  4. In a medium pot, heat the milk, cinnamon stick and naartjie peel over medium high heat.
  5. While the milk is heating, mix the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. When the milk is reaching a temperature where you can just stick your finger in it, pour it over the sugar and flour. Stir well with a whisk, then return it to the warm pot.
  6. Turn down the heat to low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (do not boil) – it will take 5-10 minutes. When it is thick, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cubed butter and egg yolks. Add the salt and almond essence and stir until smooth and glossy.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry tin/s, sift over a thin layer of ground cinnamon, then carefully place in the oven (the mixture will be quite runny, so work carefully). Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down further to 160 C and bake for another 15 minutes (smaller tarts) – 30 minutes (large tarts), or until the centre of the tart is just tenderly cooked and still slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely (the tart needs time to stabilize, so don’t slice while it is still hot).
  8. Slice and serve warm (reheated) or cold.


This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com & The Demo Kitchen

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.


This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Crustless pear and almond tart

15 May

Easy crustless pear and almond tart with whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Back in the heydays of Nook Eatery, my favourite daytime hangout in Stellenbosch a few years ago, their pear and almond tart was one of my ultimate pastries to enjoy with a strong cup of fresh coffee. Unfortunately, Nook doesn’t exist anymore. Jessica and Luke moved to Greyton, and they started a new venture called A Good Place To Gather.

Jessica is a very talented pastry chef, and all of her pastries at Nook were just impeccable. You could see that she naturally understood the magical science of flour, butter and eggs. Jessica admits that her pear and almond tarts are “not quick to make”, but that the result is well worth the effort.

Although nothing in the world would make me happier than to spend a whole day blissfully baking the perfect pear tart, not everyone is a naturally talented pastry chef, and not everyone has a full day to spend on poaching pears, making and resting pastry, and creating a perfectly smooth pastry creme. So I searched for a recipe that has less effort, but still delivered a really great result. I found one in my brand new Donna Hay book, Seasons. It is a rustic pear and almond tart, without a separate pastry base, made with fresh pears. Donna has a reputation for writing really simple recipes that work, without compromising on flavour.

This fragrant tart is best served warm (not piping hot), with thick cream. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and 40 minutes to bake in a cool oven. It is the perfect teatime treat for a cool Fall day, and still makes me long for the heydays of my favourite eatery in Stellenbosch…

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Donna Hay)

  • 90 g butter, softened
  • 90 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 35 g (1/4 cup) cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 4 small pear, halved, cored and finely sliced
  • brown sugar for sprinkling
  • thick cream, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 160 C and grease a rectangular fluted tart tin (about 9 x 33 cm)
  2. Place the butter and the sugar in a food processor, and process until combined.
  3. Add the effs, almonds, flour, baking powder and lemon rind. Process until just combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the greased tart tin, and spread it out evenly into all the corners.
  5. Place the sliced pears on top of the mixture, then press it in slightly to fan it out.
  6. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar, then bake for 40 minutes at 160 C.
  7. Remove from the oven, then cool for 10 minutes before serving with thick cream.



This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe testing, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe and Nicola Pretorius

Asparagus tart

23 Apr

Asparagus tart with sour cream and cheddar cheese (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Asparagus is such a strange and wonderful vegetable, but I don’t eat it too often. I like to keep it for special occasions, where I would wrap it in bacon and cook it on the grill, or blanch it for 30 seconds in simmering water and then drizzle it with buttery hollandaise sauce. It’s my “treat” vegetable, if you know what I mean.

My other go-to asparagus meal is this rich asparagus tart, made with sour cream and mature cheddar cheese. It is an absolute treat for tea time, but also works well for lunch or dinner if you serve it with a green salad. It works best with fresh green asparagus, not tinned. Arrange it in any pattern you want, it makes such a beautiful picture!

Ingredients for pastry:

  • 150 g cake flour
  • 150 g butter, diced
  • 20 g (125 ml) digestive bran
  • 250 ml (100 g) grated mature cheddar cheese

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 bunch fresh green asparagus  (about 200-300 g)
  • 30 ml butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 250 ml (100 g)  grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 250 ml sour cream
  • 2 XL eggs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. For the pastry: place the flour and butter in a food processor. Process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the bran and the cheddar. Process until it comes together in a ball, then remove from the bowl and press with clean hands into a greased 23 cm pie dish. The pastry is very soft, and it cannot be rolled out. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  3. Cut off the hard bottoms of the asparagus (if necessary), then blanch them in slowly simmering water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immerse in ice water to stop it from cooking. Set aside.
  4. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter, then fry the onions and thyme (remove the stalks of the thyme) until the onions are completely soft and translucent. Transfer it to the base of the tart, then distribute evenly.
  5. Now arrange the blanched asparagus on top of the onions in your desired pattern. Top evenly with the cheddar.
  6. In a small mixing bowl, mix the sour cream with the eggs and season well with salt and pepper. Pour all over the asparagus, then bake the tart in the oven at 180 C for 45-60 minutes, depending on how deep your pie dish is, until set and golden brown.  Serve warm.


This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe and Nicola Pretorius


Lemon meringue pie

12 Jun

Classic lemon meringue pie (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Being a serious sweet tooth, I love classic lemon meringue pie. I’ve tasted many versions of it, and after many baking attempts at home I’ve now perfected the recipe for the way I like my lemon meringue. It should be tangy enough to get your tongue in a twist, but just sweet enough to make you go back for more. And the most important part is the fluffy meringue on top – light and fluffy, pale golden brown, showing off in all directions with beautiful creamy twirls.

For the base and the filling, I follow the recipe from “Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte”. Then I turn down the heat a bit and add extra egg whites with sugar, vanilla and lemon juice to create my favourite meringue topping.

This is really a delicious pie! Use a large knife dipped in  recently boiled water to cut it – it makes all the difference.

Ingredients for base:

  • 1 packet (200 g) Tennis biscuits
  • 100 g butter, melted

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 can (385 g) condensed milk
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks

Ingredients for the meringue topping:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 150 ml sugar
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 5 ml lemon juice


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a food processor, process the Tennis biscuits to fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and mix well. Firmly press crumb mixture into a medium-size tart pan or loose bottomed tart tin, covering the base and sides evenly.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk condensed milk while adding lemon juice a bit at a time. Whisk egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add to condensed milk mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into tart pan, then bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While filling is baking, use a clean dry bowl to whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks (make sure your whisk is also clean and dry). Add sugar a little bit at a time, whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and glossy. Add vanilla and lemon juice and fold into meringue mixture.
  5. Remove tart pan from oven after baking for 10 minutes. Turn down heat to 150 C. Immediately top with meringue mixture, working carefully. Create beautiful swirls on top with a palette knife. Return to oven to 20-30 minutes, or until meringue is a pale golden brown colour. Remove from oven and cool completely, then slice and serve!


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Chocolate tart with fresh berries

13 Feb

Chocolate tart with fresh berries (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

I got married 8 years ago on the 14th of February 2004 – it was the first Saturday in February that suited everyone. Although we’d been dating for 4 years prior, it came as a surprise to most of our Rock ‘n Roll industry friends that we had decided to actually tie the knot. In a church. A real wedding, with a white wedding dress! (OK, ivory white…)

My parents were extremely excited about our decision to get married. Now their daughter wouldn’t “live in sin” with her boyfriend anymore, and my Mom could plan the wedding to her heart’s content. She was an amazing wedding planner, presenting me with options about the flowers, the catering, the décor, and all I had to do was choose the best option. We had a lot of help from friends to make this the most affordable wedding ever: I made my own dress (yes, I can sew), my best friend volunteered to do my make-up (www.marnimakeup.co.za), our sound engineer friend lent us his PA system for the music and speeches, another photographer friend took fantastic pictures for free, my Dad’s friend down the road lent us his beautiful car for the bridal transport – the list goes on. We chose not to have an elaborate wedding cake, but rather had a fantastic dessert buffet which everyone loved.

We danced to ACDC’s Thunderstruck untill after 04h00, my wedding dress black from all the spillage on the floor. We went home, shoeless, abundantly opening all the presents without even making notes of whom to thank for what. We fell asleep just before the break of dawn, with smiles on our faces, thankful for the best day of our lives.

Since then, the 14th of February doesn’t hold a corny air of kitsch Valentines teddies and cheap (yet expensive) red roses. It is our special day. A reminder of the choice that we made to share our lives forever. And we choose to celebrate it each year with great food and lots of great wine – no gifts. I am a lucky woman, being married to an angel of a man. The love of my life.

If you would like to spoil your love this Valentines Day with a decadent treat, be sure to make this immaculate chocolate tart. It is a very simple recipe, but gets raving reviews every time.


  • 200 g packet of Baker’s Nutti Crust cookies (caramel oats biscuits)
  • 60 g butter, melted
  • 225 g dark chocolate (use the best quality you can afford)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) cream
  • zest of half an orange, peeled into strips (not grated)
  • about 250-500 g berries of your choice (eg. raspberries, blackberries)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a food processor, process the cookies to fine crumbs. Add the butter and process untill mixed.
  3. Transfer crumbs to a fluted tart tin with removable base. Using a cup with a flat bottom (I use a measuring cup), flatten the crumbs on the bottom and onto the sides. Bake for 10-15 minutes untill just slightly darker in colour. Set aside to cool.
  4. Break the chocolate into blocks in a medium size glass bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, add the cream and orange rind. Heat untill boiling point, remove from heat at once, quickly remove orange rind with a slotted spoon, then pour immediately over the chocolate. Stir with a spatula untill fully melted, smooth and glossy.
  6. Pour warm chocolate mixture into baked base, then chill in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
  7. Remove from fridge, carefully remove the fluted side of the tin, top with berries, and sprinkle with a little sifted icing sugar if necessary. Serve cold.


This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog:

Text, recipe, testing and preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox

Photographed by Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Ilse vand der Merwe and Tasha Seccombe

Summer sunshine fridge tart

14 Mar

My Mother makes a cottage cheese fridge tart that I absolutely cannot resist. She makes it for all special occasions, and always have it ready in the fridge when we visit them in Keurboomstrand.

I recently copied her handwritten recipe into my recipe book. It is fool-proof, really easy, and contains all the good stuff for a great fridge tart: smooth cottage cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice and cream. The special touch is the topping, which is a golden orange & passion fruit syrup which gets thickened with custard powder, and totally looks like a summery sunshine celebration! […]