If you are a Dutch person, apple pie is probably one of the first things you’ve ever baked besides simple sugar cookies, am I right? At least for me it was. It’s probably one of the simpler things to bake, even for a child, as it’s very hard to mess up the easy-to-make pastry and apple and cinnamon filling… I mean, nothing can really go wrong with a buttery crust filled with warm apples and cinnamon. Having said that, while the pie is great on its own, it’s ALWAYS better served with some whipped cream (‘met slagroom‘), or ice cream on top! That’s the true truth.
As a teenager, when I was still living at home with my parents, my dad and I were on an apple pie baking spree for some time. I think we would make an apple pie at least twice a month (or was it every week?). At some point, we were jokingly doing this experiment where we would not only soak the raisins in dark rum, but would keep on adding more rum to the apple filling. While the alcohol obviously does evaporate, there was a different problem: rather than turning into a nice, firm pie, the bottom would be more than soggy, while a (delicious) thick apple-rum syrup would accumulate in the bottom of the tin… I suppose these pies were more cobbler-like in the end and could almost only be eaten from the tin with a spoon (nobody complained, though). As a kind of tribute to that, I’ve added just a tiny bit of rum in the recipe below, though the rum is completely optional.
A little difference from some other recipes is that I use dark brown caster sugar for every part of the recipe – both for the crust and the filling. I suppose it’s common to use white sugar for this pie, but the dark brown caster sugar adds that lovely rich, molasses flavour that’s so common to brown sugar, and which goes really well with this wintery apple pie – no surprise there, right? Don’t worry too much about the type of sugar, though, this pie will be just fine with light brown, or white sugar as well.
Not great at baking dainty little pastries? That’s not a problem with this pie either. This pie is supposed to look ‘rustic’ and ‘homemade’, and it is usually served as a large ‘un-dainty’ in the end slice anyway. Speaking about pie-aesthetics, though: I’ve seen many (mostly American) recipes for ‘Dutch apple pie’ that all seemed to have a crumb-like topping. While we do have this style of crumbly apple pie in the Netherlands named ‘appelkruimeltaart’, usually a regular Dutch apple pie will have a criss-cross-, or lattice pattern across the top. Usually, this top crust is slightly brushed with apricot jam, or egg-wash to make it look nice and shiny. While it can take some time to create the thin strips of pastry to go on top, you don’t have to worry too much about the looks here either… the dough-strips usually will break slightly, but you can just pinch them back together.
Honestly, as I said, nothing can really go wrong with this pie… the flavour-combination of the buttery crust, apples and cinnamon is a favourite of many – especially in the autumn and winter months! The only thing you need to take care of is that you should get some slightly sour and firm apples that can more-or-less hold their shape while being cooked, such as Goudreinet, Jonagold, or even Granny Smith. Some of the softer, sweet apples tend to turn spongey while releasing too much of their juices, which will result in a soggy pie bottom – and as anyone who watches Great British Bake Off will know: NO ONE likes a soggy bottom (except if it’s soaked in rum)!
Dutch Apple Pie / Appeltaart
- For the crust:
- 300g all-purpose flour
- 200g butter, chilled and cubed + extra to butter the pie tin
- 150g (dark) brown caster sugar
- 1 egg
- Pinch of salt
- For the filling:
- 1.5kg firm, tart apples (weight before peeling and cutting)
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 50g dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- Juice of one lemon
- 100g raisins, soaked in rum or water
- 3 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
- To serve:
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam (optional)
- Whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream
- 26cm round spring form pan
- To prepare, place your raisins in 3 tablespoons dark rum, or some water to soak for at least 30 minutes. Set aside until needed.
- For the pie crust: in a bowl, mix together all ingredients listed for the crust. The consistency may look slightly crumbly at first, but keep kneading until you’ve got a smooth, firm dough. Roll the dough into a slightly flattened ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until needed.
- For the filling: Peel the apples and remove the ‘core’. Cut the apples into cubes of about 2 cm and place in a bowl. Drain the raisins (or not, if you’re using rum) and add to the bowl. Add the cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon juice and grated ginger. Stir well to combine.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C.
- Take your 26cm spring form pan and butter it well on all sides. Take the chilled pie crust out of the refrigerator and set aside about 1/5 of the dough to use for the top of the pie later. Flatten the larger piece of the dough with a rolling pin, or with your hands and place in the spring form pan. Press the dough into the spring form pan on all sides to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Don't make the crust too thin - thickness between 0.5 - 0.8cm should be good. With the back of a butter knife trim the edges of the dough slightly to clean up the crust.
- Place the apple filling into the dough-lined spring form pan. It will usually seem like you’ve got too much apple, but don’t worry, this pie needs to be STUFFED. I usually rearrange the apple pieces and slightly tap on them with a wooden spoon to make them all fit in.
- To make the criss-cross pattern on the top of the pie: Take your leftover piece of dough and roll pieces of it into long tube-like shapes that are long enough to span the length and width of the pie. With a rolling pin, or with your fingers, flatten the tubes into ribbons of about 0.5cm thick and 2 – 3cm wide. Carefully place the ‘dough strips’ over the pie filling in a criss-cross pattern (you can do a lattice here, if you’re fancy) and press the sides to stick to the crust.
- Place the pie into the oven for 60 minutes.
- When the pie is done and while the pie is still hot, brush some apricot jam on the top to create a glossy finish.