2 cups milk (Homo or 2%)
2 pieces of stick cinnamon, each 3" long
6 pieces of fresh tangerine (traditional) or orange peel, each 1 x 1/2" with bitter white pith removed
1 whole vanilla bean 5" long or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (not whipped)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut in 1/4" bits
2 Tbsp apricot jam
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 baked 9" short crust pastry pie shell
3 Tbsp sugar combined with 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine the milk, stick cinnamon, tangerine peel, and vanilla bean (if you are using it rather than vanilla extract) in a 2 to 3 quart enameled or stainless steel saucepan. Stirring occasionally, cook over moderate heat until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat, cover tightly, and let the flavourings steep for about 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir the cream, sugar, cornstarch and salt to a smooth paste. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the cream mixture into the milk and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes, until heavily thickened. Add the butter and vanilla extract (if you are using it rather than the vanilla bean) and continue to stir until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat and set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. (to speed cooling, you can place the saucepan in a larger pan of cold water).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. In a small pan, melt the apricot jam over low heat, stirring constantly. Then rub the jam through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon, and brush the jam evenly over the bottom of the baked pie shell.
Beat the eggs into the cooled milk mixture, then strain the mixture through a fine seive into the pie shell. Discard the cinnamon, fruit peel and vanilla bean. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Bake the 'melktert' in the middle of the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the filling is slightly puffed and brown and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. The pie can be served while it is still warm or at room temperature.
Makes one 9" pie