Neenish Tarts

A Neenish tart is a small tart contaning mock cream (and possibly jam), covered with icing of two colors. Usually the color scheme is brown and pink, or brown and white.

A Neenish tart

A Neenish tart

A Neenish tart in relation to an Australian 20 cent piece.

A Neenish tart in relation to an Australian 20 cent piece ($US quarter).

What is the origin of Neenish Tarts?

There is a rumor that Neenish tarts are an Australian cake, but this has yet to be proven (although many have tried). If anyone out there in Internet-land knows of an old recipe for Neenish tarts (early 1900s) not originating in Australia, I would be most happy to hear from you.

Recipes for Neenish Tarts exist in Australian cookbooks published in the 1930s and 1940s under the name "Neinich Tart", suggesting a European origin for the desert.

Possibly the name was changed to Neenish during the Second World War. (Given that they appear as Neenish in Miss Drake's 1929 cookbook, and also in 1985 newspapers, this is completely wrong.

A column appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald attributing the discovery of Neenish tarts to Mrs Ruby Neenish, although, again this seems unlikely, given the existance of recipes under the name "Neinich". Also, a 2016 article by Rachel Carbonell completely discredits this story. It also speculates on the origins some more, but nothing conclusive.

Kel Richard's devoted one of his "word of the day" segments on ABC Classic FM to "Neenish", and mentioned this site on his On The Net program on ABC News Radio (19/10/2003).

Recipe Timeline

1895 'Advertising', Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), 22 September, p. 1. , viewed 19 Oct 2016

1901 'CORRESPONDENCE.', The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), 9 November, p. 1211. , viewed 19 Oct 2016

???? Neenish Cake using "Mama's German Pastry", Allan Good, personal communication.

1929 Neenish Cake, Miss Drake's Home Cookery, 7th edn, printed at Glenferrie in Victoria, 1929. Pink and White icing.

1932 Neinich Tart, Miranda's Cookbook, 1932

1941 Neinich Tart, CWA Cookery Book, 1941. Brown and White icing.

1976 Neenish Tart, PWMU Cookery Book, 1976


Author: Andrew Turpin

Thanks to Kristy Haris for the 1895 and 1903 pointers.

Last updated 15 Nov 2016