Home sweet home

The Dutch saying “apple pie in the oven, house sold!”, reveals the value of baking an apple pie when possible buyers visit your house. The pie will make your place feel a little more like home. A smell can bring back memories, just like taste can trigger forgotten ones.

Vlaai

For many Limburgers, Appelvlaais remind of home. Vlaai is a round pie with a diameter of about 30 centimeters. It has a hard, thick crust and fillings of every sort. The difference between a vlaai and a regular pie is that the vlaai’s filling is always baked together with its crust.

Appelvlaai is my favourite, but Vlaais come also with berries, plum or apricot, even with cooked rice porridge (so called: Rijstevlaai). Vlaai is a product from Limburg, the most southern province of the Netherlands.  We Limburgers eat vlaai when we celebrate something: birthdays, graduations, weddings, promotions. And sometimes, we eat vlaai just because we feel like it!

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Appelvlaai in the oven © Hanna Hesemans

Recipe

Ingrediënts (2 vlaais)

  • 500 g flour
  • 100 g butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 25 g fresh yeast*
  • 250 ml milk
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© Hanna Hesemans

 Instructions:

  1. Sieve the flour in a bowl. Dig a little hole in the middle.
  2. Crumble the yeast in the hole and throw in the sugar.
  3. Heat the milk until lukewarm.
  4. Let the butter soften within the milk (don’t melt it!)
  5. Add the milk and butter bit by bit to the yeast and sugar. Mix with your hands. Make sure you are working from the inside of the hole outwards. The flour will by itself join the mass.
  6. When the dough is firm, place it on your worktop and knead well.
  7. Let the dough rise for 20 min.
  8. Divide it into bulbs of 350 grams and leave to rise for another 20 min.
  9. Roll out the dough, and place it in a Vlaai tin, or a spring cake tin. It works easiest if you  fold the dough in two, and unfold it again in the tin. The dough should not should reach up towards the tin’s edges.
  10. Poke holes in the crust.
  11. Leave the dough to rise for another 10 min.
  12. Poke holes again, and softly push the rims of the vlaai up with your thumb, until puffed.
  13. Place the apples (or other fruit) on top of the dough, and add what you like. Rum, raisins, sugar, cannel.
  14. Bake the vlaai in a preheated oven for 15 min. at 200-250 degrees celcius (depending on your oven).
  15. Done! It’s time to enjoy your authentic piece of bakery!

*In Limburg, supermarket chain Jan Linders sells fresh yeast in small packages at the bread section. If you don’t have access to fresh yeast, you could try supplementing it by 10 grams of instant yeast.

By: Hanna (with lovely side notes of Lucie)

Note: Like the idea of senses triggering a feeling of home? Read Proust’s series of novels: In search for lost time, full of nostalgia for a long gone home. The first novel Swann’s way is famous for its iconic passage on the French madeleine cookie.

Photo credits: Hanna Hesemans (2016)

 

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