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.
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.
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.
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.
for the cinnamon-vanilla cake
- 250 g butter room temperature
- 350 g caster sugar
- 450 g flour
- 1 1/2 T 25g baking powder
- 1 t salt
- 350 ml milk
- 5 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 T 15ml vanilla extract
- 2 t ground cinnamon
for the milk tart (custard) filling
- 750 ml full cream milk
- 250 ml cream
- 1 T 15ml butter
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 75 g cornflour
- 1 t 5ml vanilla extract
- 175 g sugar
for the topping
- 150 ml cream
- ground cinnamon
- To make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 180° and line 2x 30cm cake pans with baking paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon.
- In a large measuring jug, beat together the milk, eggs, egg whites and vanilla.
- 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.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cake pans and place in the oven.
- 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).
- When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- In the mean time, start with the custard filling.
- Heat the milk, cream and butter in a medium saucepan.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cornflour, vanilla and sugar.
- When the milk reached boiling point, remove from the heat and slowly whisk into the egg mixture.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To assemble the cake, pipe/spread 3/4 of the milk tart custard onto one of the cakes, top with the other cake.
- Beat the cream until soft peaks form then fold into the remaining 1/4 of milk tart custard.
- Top the cake with the whipped cream custard and sprinkle over some ground cinnamon.