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Milk Tart layer cake – Vanilla cake with Milk Tart cream filling

 In Baked Goods, Dessert

Milk Tart Layer Cake

As a proper Afrikaans girl, I find complete comfort in the smell and flavour of cinnamon. I’m not sure why it is but most of our (Afrikaans) comfort foods has cinnamon as an ingredient. Pancakes (crepes) is just not the same if it doesn’t have a generous sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar in the centre. The same with melkkos. And of course, milk tart. Milk tart is for me, the ultimate. I love how the creamy, custardy filling rests ever-so-gently on the crust. And that sprinkling of cinnamon just adds perfection.

Milk Tart Layer Cake  Milk Tart Layer Cake

I decided to make this cake because I wanted to do something a bit different with the components of Milk Tart (similar to what I did with my Tiramisu Cake). I decided to make a vanilla cinnamon sponge and made the milk tart filling exactly as I would for a traditional milk tart. I decided to crumble some tennis biscuits (coconut flavoured tea biscuits/cookies) onto the filling to add a bit of texture. I used this as a filling and for the topping, folded some whipped cream into the remaining filling.

Milk Tart Layer Cake

So in essence, this is a cream custard cake as the milk tart filling is pretty much just creme patisserie (pastry cream). And if that thought frightens you, don’t let it. French desserts have a way to make you shake in your boots with their clever, fancy names but the pastry cream is relatively simple to make. All you need is patience and time (both of which I’m not good with). The important thing is to make sure that you don’t stop stirring when the custard is in the pot. If you don’t stir continuously, the egg will coagulate and form a thick layer at the bottom of what is essentially sweet scrambled eggs. Not exactly what we’re going for. I use a whisk as I feel more comfortable with whisking the custard instead of stirring but you could use a spatula or wooden spoon as well. When the custard is thick (almost the consistency of white sauce, thicker than normal custard), push it through a sieve and place in the fridge covered with cling wrap until chilled completely. Remember to put the cling wrap onto the surface of the custard as this will prevent it from forming a skin.

Milk Tart Layer Cake

The final step is to pipe/spoon 3/4 of the filling onto one of the baked sponges, crumble over some tennis biscuits and fold some whipped cream into the remaining filling. Close the cake with the second layer, top with the creamy custard and add a generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Absolute comforting perfection.

Milk Tart Layer Cake  Milk Tart Layer Cake

4.0 from 1 reviews
Milk Tart layer cake - Vanilla cake with Milk Tart cream filling
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-12
for the cinnamon-vanilla cake
  • 250g butter, room temperature
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 450g flour
  • 1½ T (25g) baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 350ml milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 T (15ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
for the milk tart (custard) filling
  • 750ml full cream milk
  • 250ml cream
  • 1 T (15ml) butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75g cornflour
  • 1 t (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 175g sugar
for the topping
  • 150ml cream
  • ground cinnamon
  1. To make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 180° and line 2x 30cm cake pans with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon.
  4. In a large measuring jug, beat together the milk, eggs, egg whites and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour and liquid ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating between the two until all the ingredients have been incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  6. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake pans and place in the oven.
  7. Allow to bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (If the cakes brown too much for your liking, simply cover loosely with some tin foil after 20 minutes of baking).
  8. When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  9. In the mean time, start with the custard filling.
  10. Heat the milk, cream and butter in a medium saucepan.
  11. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cornflour, vanilla and sugar.
  12. When the milk reached boiling point, remove from the heat and slowly whisk into the egg mixture.
  13. Wipe the saucepan clean with a piece of kitchen paper and place on a low heat. Pour in the custard and continuously whisk/stir until the mixture forms a thick custard.
  14. Allow to cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes whilst stirring until the mixture is smooth and thick and has no floury taste/texture.
  15. Push the custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and cover with cling film (push the cling onto the surface of the custard). Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.
  16. To assemble the cake, pipe/spread ¾ of the milk tart custard onto one of the cakes, top with the other cake.
  17. Beat the cream until soft peaks form then fold into the remaining ¼ of milk tart custard.
  18. Top the cake with the whipped cream custard and sprinkle over some ground cinnamon.


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Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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Showing 18 comments
  • Rubia

    Hi there,

    I’d love to try this out, just wanted to confirm – is the flour all purpose flour or cake flour?

  • karin

    I made this and it was AMAZING! One for the books. Your recipe doesnt say anything about the tennis biscuits though. Think I prefer it without though. Like the smoothness.

  • Vicky

    When mixing the cake batter – i do not see where the 2 tsp of cinnamon is used. Am i missing something? I want to make this for the ex-pats here in Dakar and don’t want to end up with a flop because i can’t read properly 😉

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks for notifying me! I never added that it needs to be sifted with the dry ingredients. I’ve amended the recipe.

  • Liana

    Hi Good day Alida
    I want to know how much cups is 450g of floour and 350g of sugar,i realy want to try this vanilla cake
    Kind regards

    • Alida Ryder

      Hi Liana. It’s very hard to convert grams to cups because the measurements won’t be 100% accurate and that could lead to your cake flopping. However, I normally go on 125g of flour per cup so 450g is approximately 3.6 cups. 1 cup of sugar is 225g which converts to approximately 1.5 cups. But I would suggest you buy a cheap scale (I have a relatively cheap digital scale which) if you’re interested in baking. It will make it so much easier for you. Let me know how it turns out.

      • Liana

        Hi Alida
        Thanks for your suggestion i went out to buy me a scale to play it safe ,but i can tell you i had so much fun making this cake my 2 daughters help me they are 4&6 ,you can imagine how my kitchen looked.I want to thank you for this recipe it was a hit at our traditional Sunday afternoon tea (all the family that stays in Cape town) comes together every second Sunday and bring cakes and treats and we have good talks and sharing advice.Thank you very much.

  • Yandeya

    Tried it last night and absolutely love it!!!! Thank you:)

  • Kitchenboy in Taiwan

    I don’t know what to say. I am speechless. All the flavours I like in ONE cake. Gorgeous!

    • Ally_R

      🙂 I’m glad you approve Wynand.

  • Caylee

    I don’t know how you have anything more than crumbs left.

    I will have to make it myself this weekend. Can’t wait.

    • Ally_R

      Caylee, please let me know what you think when you’ve baked it!

  • Caylee

    This is undoubtedly the most extravagant cake I could imagine. Please deliver to my office asap.

    • Ally_R

      Caylee, it is quite, but still so simple and humble in flavour, if that makes any sense. If you were closer I would actually, still have half of it left. 😉

  • Taryn Gavin

    I will certainly be trying this out next week, it’s my birthday and we have to bring cake to the office, no doubt this one will be a hit!

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