Traditional South African Tea Time Treats

Traditional south African tea time treats

One thing South Africans enjoy while drinking their tea is – their traditional delicious treats. Interestingly each treat they take has its own recipe. In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular South African traditional tea time treats.

South African Rusks and Milk Tart – old fashioned South African tea time treat

South Africans have been enjoying rusks (a dried-out sweet biscuit dipped in coffee or tea, similar to Italian biscotti) and milk tart for generations. Numerous recipes exist for both treats, with variations in methods and ingredients. These two recipes are modern, quicker versions of the age-old tea time treats.

Recipe for South African Health Rusks

Rusks were originally baked in South Africa during the Pioneer period, where food had to last for long periods of time without refrigeration. Traditionally it is made with white flour, buttermilk, and eggs. This recipe uses the basic ingredients but adds seeds and bran to make a healthy version of the traditional rusks.


  • 6 cups of digestive bran
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup of butter (melted)
  • A cup of sesame seed
  • One cup of coconut
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray two large bread pans with non-stick baking spray.
  3. Mix the bran, sugar, seeds, salt, flour and coconut in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and break the eggs into the whole.
  5. Whisk the eggs until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add butter, buttermilk, and milk to the eggs.
  7. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until well combined.
  8. The mixture should be wet but not runny. If the mixture seems too dry, add more milk.
  9. Scoop into two large bread pans and flatten the top with the back of a spoon.
  10. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds (optional).
  11. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  13. Turn over onto a cooling rack.
  14. Wait until completely cooled down, and cut into thick slices. Cut each slice into three or four pieces.
  15. Pack the rusks onto two baking trays. Make sure that there is enough space around each rusk for hot air to circulate.
  16. Place baking trays in a cool oven (210 degrees F) and dry the rusks out overnight.
  17. Remove from oven, allow to cool down in the baking trays and store in an airtight container.
  18. Enjoy just as it is or dipped in coffee or tea.
  19. The rusks are ideal for camping or picnic.

Traditional South African Milk Tart

This is an unbaked version of the traditional baked puff pastry milk tart.


  • 1 tin condensed milk (approximately 14 ounces or 400 grams)
  • 3 condensed milk tin measures of plain milk (empty the condensed milk tin and use the tin to measure milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon custard powder
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • One teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 packet graham crackers or tennis biscuits
  • 1/2 cup butter


  1. Crush the graham crackers or tennis biscuits until fine.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup butter.
  3. Pour crushed biscuits into a pie dish (approximately 8 inches in diameter).
  4. Add melted butter, mix and press into the bottom of the pie dish until crust is formed.
  5. Empty the condensed milk into a medium-sized pot.
  6. Add three tins of milk and 1 teaspoon of butter.
  7. Put on a stove plate and heat.
  8. Bring the mixture to the boil, while stirring continuously.
  9. In the meantime beat the eggs, custard powder, vanilla essence, salt, and corn starch until smooth.
  10. Add a little of the boiling milk mixture to the egg mixture and stir.
  11. Add the hot egg mixture to the milk mixture and stir continuously until the mixture thickens.
  12. When the mixture is thick, take off the heat and pour the hot mixture onto the cookie crust.
  13. Sprinkle with cinnamon and allow to cool.
  14. Cut in pieces and enjoy with coffee or tea or as a dessert.

With our help, we hope you baked your favorite traditional South African tea time treats. Feel free to comment your thoughts below.

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Written by Anwar M. Abrar


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