Jewish Custard Tart (Joodse Tert)

The finished cake

I recently rediscovered a cake that was a happy part of my childhood, although we never made it, rather bought it from a tannie* in the coastal town of Hermanus over the weekends.

Called Jewish tart, it’s a wonderful assembly of biscuit layers sandwiched together with custard. Yep, just that. I only knew of the recipe in one South African cookbook (one of the Wenresepte) and upon further research on the internet the ingredient lists were all so similar I have come to the conclusion that there is after all only one source.

I don’t know why the tart is called Jewish, no Jewish cookery websites have cakes anything like it, and unfortunately I think the story behind the recipe has been lost with time. If you do know more about this cake – please comment!

An advantage of this cake is that it gets better the longer it stands, because the custard is just moist enough to turn the biscuit crumb-y, but not soggy, leaving you with better results tomorrow and even more impressive ones the next day. Which leads to the biggest problem with this cake, that every time you tend to return to it, it’s mysteriously much smaller than before, or in our house this was the case!

Layering the bases – assemble the cake on the plate you will serve it on

The recipe makes more than enough. Originally you are supposed to make 6 biscuit layers, but if you can make more then do – bigger cake makes more for everybody! Adapted from the original ( Huisgenoot Wenresepte).

Biscuit dough:

300g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

pinch salt

240g castor sugar (brown castor sugar is interesting to use too)

250g butter, soft

2 eggs

Custard: (or any thick custard according to a personal recipe)

1,375ml milk

250g castor sugar

4 eggs

40g plain flour

1 vanilla pod, scraped

Set oven on 180C. Start with the dough: beat the butter and sugar together. Sift the first three dry ingredients together, then add to the butter mixture when it has creamed. Add the 2 eggs and form into a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal balls, and roll them out, cutting even-sized circles. Bake them as you go, 2 at a time, for about 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool on wire racks.

For the custard: Heat the milk with the vanilla pod to infuse. Beat the eggs and sugar together, sift and beat in the flour and add the warm milk whilst beating to temper the mixture, then add the warm mixture into the hot milk, and stir on a medium heat to cook the mixture and thicken the custard. You know it’s ready when you can’t taste ‘raw’ flour in the custard anymore, and its super thick and you can’t stop ‘tasting’ it. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap (to prevent a skin forming and cool down to roomtemperature.

To assemble, start with a biscuit base, spread custard over in an even layer and repeat until you run out of biscuit bases and end with custard on top. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.

Look, I couldv’e styled mine better, but with the combination of a broken camera and a hungry sunday lunch crew it wasn’t gonna happen. So we ate it (all) immediately instead!

Try and make the layers equally thick

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Werner says:

    Hi Almay. My mother always use to make it. Sometimes with layers of chiffon cake if she wanted to serve it straight away. One piece of biscuit was always crumbled and sprinkled on top.
    I ones made it with layers of home made rhubarb and vanilla jam as well.

  2. epicureaddict says:

    Rhubarb! That would make this so much better – if that was possible…Only you would think of that! xx

  3. Estelle Hester says:

    I also remember this cake with great fondness. I made it 2 days ago from recipe in Royal Hostess where it is called Venetian Wafer Cake. We ate it last night. I also put apricot jam, whipped cream then custard in between the layers. 3 days resting and softening is good for me.

  4. sue says:

    my mother always made this cake, it was her speciality and was called ice cream cake served ice cold from the fridge

  5. Neetha says:

    Try coloring the custard. I used to divide the custard into two bowls, add green food coloring to one and red to the other. Result pink and green custard. Then alternate the colored custards when layering. Amazing result when sliced.

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