How to Make Butternut Tart Influenced by Traditional South African Pampoen Koekies

Pampoen Koekies (literally translated to "pumpkin cookies") is a classic traditional South African food that most people are familiar with. I have written about how "problematic" traditional foods are, but I think pampoen koekies is something most South Africans are familiar with, in some or other form. (To see my take on pampoen koekies, see my post here.) To make pampoek koekies takes a lot of time. It is best made with various other friends and family giving a helping hand, it is normally made with what is referred to as traditional "kook kos". (See what our family referes to "kook kos" in this post, but see also this post in which I give my own take on things.)

However, another and maybe easier dish to make is what we call a butternut tart. This tart should not be confused with the so-called traditional pumpkin tart from the US. I think the South African version is inspired, in part, by pampoen koekies. The reason why I say this is because of the addition of cinnamon sugar that you put on top, and the fact that you serve this dish as accompanied with kook kos. Also, by following my extra steps (albeit extra work) I think a very similar taste to pampoen koekies can be achieved. The extra steps that I put in are in some sense to pay homage to pampoen koekies.

This is also one of the few dished I stick to the recipe. If you follow the recipe below, you will know why! It is seriously good, and due to the high sugar content, might even be served as a dessert. So please follow these easy steps and the recipe to make this awesome dish. (I am not sure where I got the recipe from, as you can see in my recipe book it has been written down and printed from memory.)


(The Sunday traditional lunch contains: rice, "boer bone" (a mash of beans, potato, tomato, and onion), leg of lamb, potato and carrot, and the butternut tart.)

Recipe and Ingredients:


I have written and re-written the recipe somewhat. The version I photographed below is the following:

  • 4 cups of cooked butternut,
  • 1 cup of bread flour,
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder,
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar,
  • 4 tablespoons of browned butter,
  • 2 eggs,
  • 1 teaspoon salt,
  • 250ml of cream.



Method in Pictures

The recipe is very simple. Cook the pumpkin or butternut, mix everything together and bake it for 40-45 minutes at 180C. But paying homage to traditional South African pampoen koekies, I added some additional and totally optional steps. I think these extra steps, albeit a bit cumbersome, get you a more flavorful and tasty product. So please follow these extra steps to oversimplify this very simple dish!

Step 1: "Char" the Butternut

Cooking butternut into "baby food" consistency is easy. The original recipe merely requires 4 cups of cooked butternut, but I have a different method of cooking butternut which I think amps and emphasizes the sweet taste even more. In a cast-iron pan, I "char" with some oil and then cook the butternut until soft. Normally I use this method of cooking butternut for my salads. (If you ever want to make a damn good salad, mix this butternut with wild rocket, sunflower seeds, bacon, and feta.) See the images below of what I mean. Cut into small-ish cubes and fry until cooked.



(My pans are too small, so I did it in two batches.)


(Those charred pieces are where the flavor is.)


Step 2: Make Browned Butter

Browned butter in baked goods is a hidden secret more people need to know about. Browning butter is a tricky process and it relies heavily, in my opinion, on smell. That is, rather than there being visual keys to when your butter is "browned", it is instead an olfactory key, or basically, your nose tells you when the butter is browned. It has a very distinct nutty smell, and your window of opportunity is very small. Be cautious.


Step 3: Add Everything Together

This is an easy step. Mash the butternut and mix everything together. Pro tip: temper the eggs or wait until the butternut and browned butter has cooled a bit before you mix in the eggs.




Step 4: Bake for 40-45 mins @ 180C

Spray the baking vessel of your choice with oil or rub it with butter, and then top the butternut tart with cinnamon sugar (basically sugar and cinnamon mixed). This gets nice and crispy on top, and again mimics the taste of pampoen koekies.




The taste and texture of this dish is awesome. I can eat the whole thing by myself! It is not the most healthy, but as a side dish, you are not supposed to eat a lot of it. But we always do. And we always pay the price! But it is worth it. I really hope you give this a try, and if you do, please let me know what you think of it!



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