My friend Anja is from the Netherlands - she's a wonderful cook, and in our circle of friends she's probably best known for her amazing Dutch apple pie called Appeltaart. It's extremely delicious and is quickly gobbled up at every function where it makes an appearance. I'm thrilled Anja agreed to let me and my camera into her kitchen so I could share it with you today.
Okay, so forget everything you know about American apple pie because the only thing it has in common with it's Dutch cousin is apples.
Our American version has a filling that is juicy, the crust is made with an icy cold rolled pastry dough, and the assembled pie is baked in, and served from, a shallow pie plate. On the other hand, the filling of this Dutch version is not juicy, the crust is made with a room temperature pressed pastry dough, and it's assembled and baked in a deep springform pan before being unmolded and sliced.
The flavor profile of the American pie relies heavily on butter, sugar, and cinnamon, while the flavor profile of the Dutch pie is much more complex as it relies more on almonds, raisins, rum, and warm mix of intoxicating spices.
NOTE: the homemade almond paste needs to be prepared a week in advance and the raisins should soak in spiced rum overnight so plan accordingly. I hope you'll give it a try - I promise you won't be disappointed. Let's walk you through the process - the full recipe can be found at the end of this post.
Ready? Here we go.
Start by peeling apples. Anja's mother was visiting from the Netherlands, so we got her in on the action. I love how she peeled her apples with a knife - I wonder how many apples her hands have peeled over the years.
Anja cuts her apples over a bowl rather than using a cutting board.
The apples are cut into 1/4-inch slices. Add the yummy spices and rum soaked raisins. Mix together gently and set aside.
This is what the raisins soaked overnight in - spiced rum.
Now we make the crust. All the dry ingredients are weighed in the bowl of a food processor.
The softened butter is incorporated.
Lastly, the water is added and the mixture is processed until it forms into a ball of dough.
The dough is divided; the big portion lines the bottom and sides of the springform pan and the small portion will be used to make a lattice top. Note how Anja lined the base of her springform pan with parchment. You can skip this step if you don't plan to remove the pie from the base of the pan before serving.
The larger ball of pastry dough is easily pressed into the pan.
A beaten egg yolk is brushed over the bottom crust and then cornstarch is sprinkled on top of the yolk.
Half of the apple mixture is poured into the pan.
Homemade almond paste is dotted over the apples before adding the remaining apple mixture.
Now we take pieces of the small ball of pastry dough and roll them into snakes about 1/2-inch in diameter.
Place them on top of the pie in a lattice pattern and press to flatten slightly.
We're almost done.
Wrap the base of the pan in foil to catch any leaks that might occur and loosely tent the to top of the pie with foil.
Bake in a 375F oven for 45 minutes, remove foil tent and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Cool completely before unmolding. Prepare to feast!
Now get some apples and make Appeltaart!
Appeltaart (Dutch Apple Pie)
makes one 9-inch springform pan - serves 12
(use about 1/3 of this paste in the pie - the rest can be frozen for use later)
250g whole almonds
250g powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
120g raisins (Anja prefers golden raisins, but regular raisins are okay)
2 tablespoons spiced rum (optional)
900g peeled and thinly sliced baking apples, 6-8 medium (Anja prefers Galas - avoid overly juicy varieties)
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon (or lime)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound butter, room temperature
180g light brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper (black is okay too)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon corn starch
To make the almond paste:
Blanch almonds by soaking them in hot water for a few minutes, remove from hot water and cover with ice to cool, slip brown skins off.
Place blanched almonds on a sheet tray and put into a 350F oven to dry completely and toast slightly until they smell fragrant.
Cool completely and grind in a food processor.
Combine ground almonds, powdered sugar, and beaten egg. Mixture should be somewhat sticky.
Store the paste in the fridge for at least a week for the flavor to develop.
To prepare the raisins:
Plump raisins in hot water, drain water, add spiced rum and soak overnight.
To make the filling:
Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
Set aside while preparing pastry.
To make the pastry:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, butter, brown sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon; add 1-2 tablespoons of water and process until the dough forms into a ball.
Divide the pastry into 2 unequal portions (the larger portion should be approximately 2/3 of the dough; the smaller 1/3).
To assemble and bake the Appeltaart:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Press large ball of pastry dough into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
Brush the bottom pastry with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with cornstarch.
Pour 1/2 the apples into the prepared pastry.
Add rum-soaked raisins (including any remaining rum); crumble about 1/3 of the homemade almond paste over the apples; add the remaining apples.
Decorate top of appeltaart with remaining pastry by rolling into a snake shape and pressing into a lattice pattern.
Brush lattice with beaten egg white.
Wrap bottom of springform with foil to prevent leaking juices from dripping in your oven.
Loosely tent top with foil.
Bake in a 375F oven for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Cool completely before unmolding.