Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Traditional Cape Brandy Tart

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Traditional Cape Brandy Tart
Cape brandy tart with hot brandy sauce. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Good old Cape brandy (yes, Klippies will do just fine) is what makes this old regional classic, and anyone can make it. If you’re teetotal, you can substitute orange juice (though this recipe includes a little of the currently seasonal juice in the brandy sauce). It’s important to pour the hot brandy sauce over the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven.

I first started making the recipe for Cape Brandy Tart in the classic Cook With Ina Paarman cookbook decades ago, but have adapted it over the years.


300g pitted dates, chopped finely

150g pecan nuts, chopped finely

250 ml boiling water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100 g butter, room temperature

1 cup castor sugar

1 jumbo egg

1+ ⅓ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 scant tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

¾ cup orange juice and cold water, combined (squeeze orange juice into a measuring jug and top up with water to make ¾ cup)

¾ cup castor sugar

1 Tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

125 ml brandy (or orange juice, if you must)



Preheat the oven to 180℃ or 190℃ (ovens vary, my gas oven needs to be 190 but most electric ovens will need 180).

Chop the dates finely by hand with a sharp knife (don’t blitz in a food processor, you don’t want a paste). Pour the dates into a bowl and sprinkle over 1 tsp bicarb. Pour a cup of boiling water over to cover and leave to cool (so do this a couple of hours before you make the tart).

Warm a mixing bowl and beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon until creamy. Add the egg and combine well. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon powder together in a separate bowl. Add a pinch of salt to that. Have the chopped pecans and the cooled date mixture to hand. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and combine. Add some of the date mixture and nuts, combine, and continue alternatively adding each until everything is used up.

Pour into a greased pie dish and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

While it is baking, prepare the brandy sauce. Put the water, orange juice, sugar and butter into a pot and bring to a boil, stirring for the sugar to dissolve. Turn off the heat and stir in the brandy and vanilla essence. Make sure it’s super hot when the tart comes out of the oven.

Once removed from the oven, prick the top all over with a fork and pour over two thirds of the hot brandy sauce. Reserve the remainder of the sauce for reheating later and pouring over individual servings.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream. DM


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