Visitors to South African shores may not realise it… but they are in for a glorious gastronomic experience once they land. There are so many incredible food experiences to be had in South Africa. It can seem positively overwhelming to a first time visitor… So, to uncover all the must-try South African foods and flavours we’ve asked some of the best South African food bloggers to share their secrets on their favourite South African food.
Today it’s the turn of Astrid Field who blogs over at The Sweet Rebellion. She is a food scientist turned food blogger living in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
In her world, there is no greater love than that of a chocolate salted caramel tart, no deeper joy than the sight of a freshly baked tray of cinnamon buns, and, most importantly, no such thing as guilt. Her recipes vary from simple to showstopper and there is something sweet for any baker!
Read on to find out more about her food journey, her food blog and her favourite South African flavours- plus a recipe worth trying in your own home!
What as the origin of your passion for food?
It all started with my first baking book. It was a gift from my parents on my 14th birthday. I was obsessed! I spent hours trying each and every recipe, and became fascinated by how basic ingredients like butter, flour and sugar could be transformed into delicious cookies and cakes. I went on to do a degree in Food Science and work in a flavour laboratory.
Why did you start blogging?
In 2013 I was diagnosed with MS. I left the commercial food industry but I missed the creative aspect of developing products. This combined with my incurable dessert addiction led me to start a blog documenting my baking experiments.
What is the focus of your blog?
The Sweet Rebellion is all about unapologetically sweet, decadent treats and desserts.
What is your must-try South African food for visitors to our shores?
Biltong and Boerewors!
What is YOUR favourite South African food?
Malva Pudding served with custard.
Can you share 1 recipe with Sawubona readers that features a uniquely South African twist?
Yes! Find my recipe for Milk Tart Macarons below
There is something so Parisian and sophisticated about macarons. If you’ve ever had one you’ll no doubt have fallen in love with their crisp, chewy shells and creamy fillings. They’re so darn pretty too! I’ll be honest with you – macarons are notoriously tricky to make. It took me several attempts to get just the right recipe. Once you’ve mastered it though, the macaron world is your oyster. You can colour and flavour them any which way you like – the possibilities are endless!
Traditionally macarons are filled with a buttercream or chocolate ganache, but I decided to shake things up a bit and add a South African flavour to these French sweet treats. I used a cinnamon-infused Milk Tart custard to fill my macarons. And let me tell you, it tasted amazing! Just like a Milk Tart, with a French twist.
Milk Tart Macarons
55g egg whites (A)
150g icing sugar
150g almond flour
55g egg whites (B)
Ground cinnamon for dusting
Milk Tart Filling:
500ml full cream milk
30ml salted butter
1 cinnamon stick
30ml cake flour
5ml vanilla extract
• For best results separate your egg whites 1-2 days before starting. You will need 4 large egg whites. Keep the egg whites in an airtight container in the fridge for 24-48 hours. This is called “ageing” and reduces the moisture content of the egg whites. Weigh the egg whites after ageing!
• Preheat the oven to 160°C (without the fan). Line 2 baking trays with silicone or greaseproof paper. Draw evenly sized circles on the paper, 3-4cm in diameter (I traced around a tot glass). Turn the paper over so that ink/pencil does not transfer onto the macarons.
• Combine the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat.
• Meanwhile whip the egg whites (A) in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer (or a hand-held mixer, but you’ll need help later) until foamy.
• Once the syrup has reached 116°C, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or until the bubbles subside.
• With the mixer running on medium speed, carefully pour the hot syrup in a thin stream down the sides of the bowl, away from the whisk. If you are using a hand-held mixer you will need an assistant to do the pouring here. Continue mixing until the bowl feels cool.
• Sift together the icing sugar and almond flour through a fine sieve. Make sure to push all the almonds through the sieve.
• Stir together well, then add the egg whites (B) and mix well with a metal spoon.
• Now stir a third of the meringue mixture into the almond mixture to lighten it. Gently fold the remaining meringue in, using a figure of 8 motion. Stop folding when the mixture has become loose and shiny – if you lift the spoon the mixture should no longer break into pieces but fall like molten lava.
• Scoop the mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto the prepared trays. The best way to do this is to hold the piping bag directly above the circle (not at an angle) and squeeze just until, or slightly before the circle is filled.
• Once all the circles are filled, bang the tray hard onto a countertop 3 or 4 times to knock the air bubbles out.
• Dust the macarons with cinnamon. Leave the trays to stand for 30 minutes so that the macarons can dry out. If you touch them gently with your finger, they should have formed a skin.
• Bake the macarons for 8-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the trays. If they don’t easily lift off the paper/silicon mat, they need to dry out more. In this case you can return them to the warm (but switched off oven) with the door left ajar.
• Meanwhile make the milk tart filling. Bring the milk, butter and cinnamon stick to the boil.
• Mix the remaining ingredients into a smooth paste.
• Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, cool for a minute then remove the cinnamon stick and pour slowly into the smooth paste, whisking constantly to avoid curdling.
• Strain this mixture back into the pot and return to a medium heat.
• Stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, then allow to cool to room temperature. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a palin round nozzle (about 5mm wide) then refrigerate until needed.
• Just before serving, match like-sized macarons and sandwich together with the milk tart filling.
• The unfilled macaron shells can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.