Sandy's Kitchen


// My mother baked,
her handwritten recipes dusty,
smudged with a veneer of a misplaced buttered knife.

She baked,
cakes that were tall and fluffy,
oozing with sticky-fingered jam and sprinkled with snow frosted icing sugar.

She baked, every day at 3,
a cluttered mess of hot sugary deliciousness
that melted our hearts and filled our bellies.

My mother baked,
cakes, and pies, tarts and bread with an easy careless skill, that rose to meet us every day at tea.

It’s only a matter of time before our summer skies flicker to life and are filled with an orchestrated gravelly roll and drum of our daily afternoon Johannesburg thunderstorms. As soon as this happens, we can safely say, summer is finally a reality – and here to stay.  So, tuck away the melancholy, rinse out the grey and get ready to burst full blush into summer with this month’s lifestyle choice of ‘The Queen of Tarts.’ Bold, bright and beautiful, just like my mum.

You’ll be tickled pink by our striking combo and playful palette of pastels, pinks and reds. For me, pink is a memory of happiness, instinctively evoking a feeling of being “home” – it shouts out, a sense of euphoria, of love, a place where no worries exist and where your heart is always full, and bursting. I’m crazy for this colour, as its versatility is endless; soft and feminine or loud and brazen. Life just seems better through rose tinted glasses.


“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

 – Audrey Hepburn


This month, it’s all about embracing a cluttered style of pinks and reds, with a mix of vintage tea party chic and classic cotton candy fun. I’ll show you how to beautifully recreate a season of summer love, high teas and tarts.

My idea to emulate ‘the tea party’ comes from a very special person and place, my mum. Mum embodied the word pink, she was radiant, flamboyant, fragrant and feminine, she was perfect – and she loved nothing more than entertaining, which she did with panache and such effortless style. What we took for granted as three doted on young girls, was a spoiling tradition of a daily afternoon post school tea. The tray groaned under light spongy cakes, sandwiches or tarts, come 3 o’clock tea was served with a simple swoop and tinkle of her laughter. She made tea time a memory for me, and as a tribute to her, I hope I’ll create a lasting one for you.

If weather permits, plan and set up your party outside, there’s nothing like natural light to shine down on your traditional afternoon garden tea party. However, if the rumblings of an afternoon storm is on it’s way, pitch a tent inside with some of my tricks and tips to make this a perfect (tea) party yet.

Colour is clearly the central theme here, and I’ve chosen to play off the two normally clashing colours of pink and red to enhance a table of whimsical nostalgia and happiness. The mood is set with a heavy striped red and white tablecloth – this thick bold ticking sets the tone and mood from the start.


I have grounded the horizontal stripe with large transparent glass underplates, their colouring, a mix between Winery, Pomegranate and Rococco Red. Bold and punctuating they are quickly offset by dainty Cherry Blossom Pink toille crockery, which hints at the finery of age old china and tradition.

Remember, if you don’t have a full set of pastel pink patterned china, mix and match – pattern and size are not as important as keeping the colour, the constant in pinks and reds. The more mismatched, the better!

The heavy silver utensils lie informally loose on mismatched cloth napkins, some printed with a pop of Fuchsia pink, others muted in pale Dog Wood Pink – I’ve even thrown in a few delicately blue and yellow patterned ones to enhance the magical tea party charm.

Red glassware (both wine and water glass) are the covert of the day, standing tall above the plates, they work wonderfully to pick up the hues and saturations of the darker roses and under plates. On to a collection of fine bone china tea mugs – remember if you have to splurge, it’s here, with your thin-lipped / rimmed mugs, they add a sense of posh and gentry to your table. I’ve dotted my collection of well-worn English country mugs around the table, they are all unique, floral and thin-lipped. The incorporation of glassware is a fabulous way to show off more colour, with their varying heights and sizes it draws in the tea party talk. I’ve filled my glassware differently, some groan with light cloud-like meringues, while others overflow with pink and white marshmallow. Some bob with strawberry and raspberry infused water, while others are heaped with fresh and ripened nectarines. I’ve created contrast and curiosity with simple variety.

Strawberry, lemon or raspberry-laced water jugs are not only easy to recreate, they look good and it’s a perfect way to keep your guests seasonally quenched in the summer months.

When it comes to the tea parties, in my opinion, the most pivotal design / décor feature are the flowers – and in this case, the roses, and lots of them. This profusion of both fragrance and colour is the key ingredient to creating a fanciful feminine appeal. So, go big on the roses! I’ve placed the roses in a variety of ‘vases,’ cutting them to different lengths and placing them in a haphazard structured centrepiece, placed atop boxes, looming large in cut glass vases, and in silver urns, all adding a sense of sentimentality.

Remember if you don’t have a host of vases for your roses, make use of old jugs, silver creamers, cake tins or old hat boxes – this adds to perfect vintage-flavoured affair.

My piece de resistance and personal touch, is my faded photo of my mum, lips ablaze with her signature Fire Engine Red Lipstick and her sparkling blues (eyes that have not been retouched) that look gracefully at the spread before her.


“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

 –Henry James

Roses are the perfect flower for this elegant, sumptuous afternoon feast of tea and tarts. With their strong, sturdy stems that open slowly to reveal unforgettable fragrance and colour, gather up these gorgeous blossoms and get ready to shine. Start by mixing up your colour palette with an array of pinks and reds – you want this arrangement to pop. Although you want to maintain some of the greenery and leaves, remove most of them, it’ll make arranging a whole lot easier. Cut stems at varying lengths to create a multilevel arrangement, with longer stems in the middle, working your way out with shorter stems to create height. Don’t forget to cut them at 45 degree angles with a good pair of gardening shears. Roses are thirsty flowers and you want to enjoy them for as long as possible, so don’t forget to replenish the water often and a little trick I learnt which works wonders in both reviving a tired looking arrangement of roses and keeping them going for longer is to mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a litre of warm water. Stir until dissolved. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by about 10 centimeters of the prepared water.

Another great invaluable tip to ensure your arrangement looks loose and informal is to (once all the roses are arranged and in place) gently hold them just under the buds, lifting them just out of the vase and slowly lower them back into the vase. Make use of a variety of vases, you can see here, I’ve utilized an old pink and white striped hat box – have fun with your vases, think quirky and cheeky to add to your vintage chic.

Nothing beats Lizzy Thornton-Dibb of Bella Rosa’ roses. Her velvety buds, are heavily scented. She sells a bountiful palette of breathtaking full bloomed roses. 

I love Lizzy’s story and had to share it; Lizzy’s love for roses started at the tender age of 4, when Granny Bette looked after her in her home in Harare. Granny Bette had a beautiful rose garden, which inspired her to one day grow a rose of her own. Whilst at university she planted a Mister Lincoln “ Granny’s favourite” with a full handful of Superphosphate she promptly killed it. In 2001, while living in England, she bought a small patch of land in South Africa over the internet. With much enthusiasm she began learning how to grow roses and her hobby quickly went from a small circle of roses to a plot of land boasting 2500/ 3000 bushes. Thornton-Dibb’s believes that the life cycle of the rose is almost parallel with our lives; from soil preparation to pruning, budding, flourishing and finally leaving behind beauty and fragrance. Thanks to Granny Bette we’re all able to share the love of the roses.
Contact Lizzy Thornton-Dibbs directly to place your order 0835002041


The beauty of a vintage tea party is that you can go to town with the menu, with a delicious combination of sweet and savoury, your guests will be in the pink. I’ve baked up a decadent storm of delicious tarts in every which way

Lemon meringue tart

Serves 8


For the pastry

  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 quantity sweet shortcut pastry

For meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar

For the lemon curd

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 7 lemons
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 300g unsalted softened butter
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 9 egg yolks


  1. Preheat your oven to 190º Dust your working surface lightly with flour and start by rolling out the pastry to the thickness of 5mm. Carefully fold the pastry over your rolling pin, then drape it over a 23cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin.
  2. Carefully press the pastry into the edges – be mindful of not tearing it. Unavoidably sometimes it does happen, then just use the leftover bits and bobs to patch it up. It is important not to leave any cracks, because this will spring leaks. Use your knife to trim the pastry and then push it 1cm to 2cm up the sides of the tin to allow for shrinkage in the oven.
  3. Blind bake (see below separate Method)
  4. Remove the tart shell from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC
  6. Now you have to focus on the lemon curd. Put all of your ingredients, except the butter, in a large saucepan over very low heat and whisk until the eggs have broken up and the sugar dissolved.
  7. Add half the butter and continue to whisk. At this point the eggs will start to cook and the mixture coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Add the remaining butter and continue stirring until the mixture becomes very thick. It is very important to continue whisking throughout the cooking process to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  9. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk until lukewarm.
  10. Spoon the curd filling into the pastry case, and spread it out evenly. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. The curd should have a good consistency.
  11. Now we are getting to the meringue. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until thickened. Begin adding your caster sugar a little at a time, whisking each addition well, until you have a thick, glossy meringue.
  12. Dollop the meringue over the cooled curd, making peaks as you go.
  13. Bake under the grill until golden in colour and set. Enjoy!

Sandys pecan tart

Serves 8


  • shortcrust pastry
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • Whipped cream, for serving


  1. Preheat your oven to 190ºC. Carefully fold the pastry over your rolling pin, then drape it over a 23cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin.
  2. Carefully press the pastry into the edges. Use your knife to trim the pastry and then push it 1cm to 2cm up the sides of the tin to allow for shrinkage in the oven.
  3. Blind bake (see below separate Method)
  4. Remove the tart shell from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 160ºC.
  6. In a large bowl beat together eggs. Add brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup, salt and mix to combine. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and zest until thoroughly combined. Lastly, add the chopped pecans and give it a good final stir.
  7. Pour your filling into the tart shell. Neatly arrange pecan halves in rows over filling and put into the oven. Bake until pastry is lightly browned and the filling is set, about 45 minutes.
  8. Let your tart cool completely on a rack before cutting and serving. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Fruit tarts

Makes 18 tartlets


  • For the pastry
    500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ice-cold water, if needed

For the crème pâtissière

  • 500ml milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 40g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • a little icing sugar, to dust

To finish

  • ½ jar apricot jam
  • 2 nectarines, thinly sliced
  • 400g raspberries
  • handful strawberries
  • handful blueberries


  1. Let’s start with the pastry. In a mixing bowl, sieve together the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter cubes and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the beaten egg and work together with your hands until the pastry comes together. You may need to add a splash of ice-cold water if the pastry is too dry. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least ten minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  4. Remove the pastry from the fridge and peel off the cling film. Flour your working surface and roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 5mm.
  5. Cut circles of the pastry out with a cutter that’s only slightly bigger than a set of 10cm tart cases. Carefully line the miniature tart cases and overlap the edge a little.
  6. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork. Blind bake (see below separate Method) and set aside the cases to cool on a wire rack. Then remove from the tins and set aside.
  7. For the crème pâtissière, heat the milk in a large pan until it is just boiling.
  8. Thoroughly beat together the egg yolks, plain flour and sugar in a bowl. Pour the milk into the bowl containing the eggs and whisk to combine. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and cook over a medium heat while stirring constantly. The mixture should thicken as it just comes to the boil.
  9. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Sprinkle over a little icing sugar to stop a skin from forming.
  10. Pass the jam through a sieve into a clean bowl to make it smooth. Heat up the apricot jam with two tablespoons of water and leave to cool.
  11. Spoon a little of the cooled crème pâtissière into each one of the tart cases. Top with seasonal fruit before brushing lightly with the cooled apricot jam.

Asparagus and goat's cheese phyllo tart

Serves 8


  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts         
  • 150g butter     
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry           
  • 4 leek, white part only
  • 1 clove garlic  
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 400g soft goat’s cheese        


  1. Melt the butter in a small pot. Cook over low heat until just foaming and remove from the heat.
  2. Place phyllo on a clean work surface. Cover with a damp tea towel to prevent phyllo drying out. Brush 1 phyllo sheet with butter, then place another sheet on top. Repeat brushing and layering with butter and remaining phyllo. Reserve remaining butter in your small pot.
  3. Trim the stack to a 16cm x 40cm rectangle and use it to line the tart pan/baking tray, allowing the pastry to drape over the edges. Place the pan on an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes until golden.
  4. Meanwhile, thinly slice the leek. Heat the pot with the reserved butter over medium heat. Add the leek and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Now, crush in the garlic and cook for a further minute until fragrant. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Snap off 2cm from the asparagus ends and cook for 2 minutes or until just tender. Drain.
  6. Spoon leek mixture into pastry case. Crumble over half the goat’s cheese, top with    asparagus, then crumble over remaining goat’s cheese and pine nuts. Bake for 5 minutes or until warmed through.

Chocolate tart recipe with sea salt

Serves 12


  • 375g shortcrust pastry
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 200g 70% dark chocolate
  • 50ml full cream milk
  • sea salt flakes
  • creme fraîche or ice cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 23cm greased tart tin.
  3. Blind bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake again for 15 minutes, or until golden.
  4. Cook the cream, sugar and fine sea salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove as soon as the mixture boils up. Off the heat, add the butter and snap in the chocolate. Stir until smooth and blended.
  5. Stir in the milk and keep stirring until smooth. Pour into the tart shell and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to set.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt flakes lightly all over, then serve with creme fraîche or ice cream.

Tomato, feta & basil tartlets

Serves 12


  • 1 quantity shortcrust pastry
    ½ cup tasty cheese, grated
    ½ cup milk      
    2 tablespoons cream 
    1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved    
    1 handful feta, crumbled        
    2 eggs, beaten           
    1 pinch nutmeg          
    Salt and pepper          
    Basil leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line your flan tins with pastry and blind bake.
  2. Scatter the crumbled feta and halved cherry tomatoes into the pastry.
  3. Now, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, seasoning and nutmeg and poor into pastry case
  4. Bake for a further 30 min or until set.
  5. Top with basil leaves.

Fig and goats cheese tart

Serves 8


  • 1 quantity shortcrust pastry
  • 125g soft goat’s cheese 
  • 4 black figs, halved
  • 3 eggs
  • 180ml pouring cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 20g finely grated Parmesan
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line your flan tin with pastry and blind bake.
  2. Place the goat’s cheese and fig halves on the pastry. 
  3. In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, chives, parmesan, salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture well. Pour into cases and bake for 25 minutes or until set.
  4. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Flans and tarts to serve cold are sometimes made with sweet, enriched shortcrust pastry which can be rolled out very thinly. It is usually baked at 180°C



  • To line 2 x 18cm flan tins
  • 225g flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp cold water


  1. Prepare the flour and salt and mix in the butter as for the shortcrust pastry.
  2. Add the sugar and mix it in well.
  3. Beat the egg yolks together and mix in the cold water, then make a well in the center of the mixture flour and stir in the egg and water mixture with a knife to produce a soft dough.
  4. Turnout the dough onto a floured board and knead gently until it is payable and free from cracks.
  5. Roll out once to the required thickness.

Shortcrust pastry

Shortcrust pastry should have a crisp, short (melt in the mouth) texture. The pastry is usually baked at 180°C depending on richness and size.



  • 225g flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g butter
  • 60ml cold water


  1. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes and distribute them evenly over the flour.
  3. Rub the butter lightly into the flour with your fingertips, lifting up the mixture while rubbing to keep it as cool and aerated as possible.
  4. Continue rubbing until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
  5. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the water gradually while you stir in with a knife. Use just enough of the water to produce a soft (but not sticky) dough.
  6. Turnout the dough on a floured surface and roll only to the thickness required. The pastry will be heavy if you roll it too much.

Blind Baking

  1. Roll out enough baking paper to cover the flan tin plus another 10cm. Crunch it into a tight ball, open the ball up and wet the baking paper thoroughly. This makes it easier to get the paper into tight corners.
  2. Prick the base with a fork and cover the base and sides of the tart with the damp baking paper. Fill your base with either baking beans or uncooked rice.
  3. Blind bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked.
  4. Remove the baking sheet and beans or rice, and return the tart shell to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until it’s beautifully golden.
Sandy’s Kitchen
Sweetly Does It Cupcake Offset Spatula 10cm

Although this little gem is used for icing, I use Sweetly Does It Cupcake Offset Spatula to gently loosen my tarts from their tins – of course you can also use if for it’s real purpose of icing cakes and cupcakes as well as smoothing spreads, jams and cream. You can order it online from  from Yuppie chef for a R139.00

Taste CPT. Hoghouse Bakery & Cafe

If you are not up to donning the oven gloves, and rolling out the pasty, why not pop into my sneaky selection of high tea goodies, ready to rock n roll, unbox and look pretty on any plate or table. It’s not easy finding the perfect patisserie, or a crispy crumbly tart crust, but after much tasting, nibbling and tea (aka coffee) – my choices are:

The Hoghouse Bakery – tucked away between Maitland, and north of Pinelands, this bakery is sandwiched right in the middle of the industrial area, some 8 kilometres East of the Cape Town city centre.

This unlikely contender is primarily known for its beer and Texan style cuisine and atmosphere before its pastries, but don’t be put off, don your stretson, and pony up to try their incredible and signature pastry – Pasteis de Nata. When it comes to the King of the Custards, the Hoghouse is Queen of Tarts in perfecting these creamy custard tarts. They literally went the whole hog (sorry couldn’t resist) when whipping up these tasty tarts – free range eggs from the happy clutch of the free-roaming chicks of Farmer Angus, combined with Wayne Rademeyer’s buffalo milk from his herd at Buffalo Ridge. The almost singed browned pastry top is the result of piping hot wood-burning oven, adding yum and deliciousness to the first and final bite (gone too soon!).

Taste JHB. Glenda's

Glenda’s Restaurant

This all-day-old-fashioned-all-time-favourite is filled with colourful memories of delectable patisseries, dripping in colour, texture and taste. Started by the doyenne of pastries, Glenda Lederle – a seasoned and world trained chef brings panache and style to the table while whipping up a frenzy of feminine and floral Frenchness. There are gorgeously glazed scented and sweet petit-fours, to the fluffiest choux pastry, decadent chocolate brownies, mini mes madelines and a medley of other treats to chose from at her takeaway patisserie “Dotty Choux” – which specialises in choux pastry. And if you’re in the mood for celebration, sit down and enjoy the ‘choux choux’ lounge, with a chilled glass of bubbles and nibbles so good that’ll make even your grandmother blush.

Celebration are made to order with beautifully decorated cakes and assorted pastries.

Glenda’s Restaurant Hyde Square 285 Jan Smuts Avenue, Dunkeld, Johannesburg +27 11 2686369

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