Appeltaart: Dutch Apple Pie

You can probably tell from all the Dutch recipes I’ve posted, that I’m a fan of Dutch baking. And of all Dutch desserts, the classic appeltaart may be the most famous. Appeltaart is a tall Dutch apple pie made from a brown sugar shortcrust pastry filled to the brim with cinnamon apples.

Appeltaart is best translated as Dutch apple pie, and not to be confused with Dutch apple tart, which would be appelvlaai. Whereas appelvlaai is a specialty of the south, appeltaart is a staple in all of the Netherlands.

While the saying may be “as American as apple pie,” an appeltaart recipe appears in the first Dutch cookbook 100 years before the first colony at Jamestown. The recipe in Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen isn’t much different from how it’s made today. Most recipes today include cinnamon, but the 1514 recipe suggests including a spice mix of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and mace “if you want to make a very fine tart.” This would also have made it lavishly expensive.

If you’ve ever been to the Netherlands, you’ll know that it’s hard to find a place that doesn’t serve apple pie for dessert. There’s nothing more Dutch than a kopje koffie and a slice of appeltaart with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

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Tips for Making Appeltaart

  • The traditional apple for Dutch apple pie is Goudreinet, or Belle de Boskoop. But you can use any baking apple, or a mix.
  • The crust for appeltaart, is more like shortcrust or like a cookie crust than flaky pâte brisée pie dough. The butter is cut into the flour until it resembles crumbs, then the egg is kneaded in until the dough comes together.
  • Chill the dough for at least an hour before rolling it out. The gluten needs time to rest after mixing, and the dough is easier to handle when it’s cold. If you still have a hard time with the dough after chilling, instead of rolling it out, you can instead press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • It will seem like you have too much apple filling, but the apples will reduce down a bit as they bake. Try to pack the apples in the pie as snugly as you can.
  • Breadcrumbs are used to soak up the juices from the apples and thicken the filling.
  • I made my appeltaart very tall, to the top of the cake tin. I wouldn’t recommend making it so tall, as it compromised the structural integrity of the pie. Line the sides to just under the top edge of the pan, so the lattice top is still inside the cake tin.
  • The pie is best eaten the same day it is baked. The crust’s texture deteriorates over time.
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Ingredients:

Yields one 8-inch (20cm) pie.

For the Dough:

MetricCups
140g light brown sugar
300g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

200g unsalted butter, cold

1 egg
10 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 egg

For the Apple Filling:

MetricCups
1 kg apples (about 6 medium)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

70g sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

75g raisins (optional)

15g breadcrumbs
2 lbs apples (about 6 medium)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (optional)


3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

For the Egg Wash:

1 egg
Sugar, for sprinkling

For the Dough

Sift together the dry ingredients:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder.

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Cut in the cold butter:

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or with the tips of your fingers), until the mixture resembles crumbs and the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces.

Add the egg:

Add the egg and gently knead the dough until it comes together into a ball.

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Chill and rest the dough:

Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before rolling it out. I prefer to make the dough the day before and have it rest overnight.

For the Apple Filling

Plump the raisins:

Place the raisins in a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the raisins soak for 10-15 minutes, then drain.

Prepare the apples:

Peel and core the apples, then slice them thinly. In a large bowl, toss the apples in the lemon juice, coating them so they don’t oxidize.

Make the filling:

Add the sugar and cinnamon to the apples and stir to distribute evenly. Then stir in the raisins.

Assemble and Bake

Preheat the oven:

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).

Prepare the cake pan:

Grease an 8-inch (20cm) springform cake pan with butter and dust with flour.

Roll out the dough:

Split the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.

Start with the larger ball of dough and keep the smaller one cold in the refrigerator.

Roll out the larger piece of dough and line the bottom of the cake pan as well as up the sides.

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Fill the pie:

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into the bottom of the pie shell, then pour in the apple filling. Press the filling in snugly. It will seem like there’s too many apples, but the filling will reduce as it bakes.

Make the lattice top:

Roll out the remaining piece of dough to just larger than the cake pan. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or long sharp knife, slice several thin strips of dough, about 2cm (3/4-inch) wide.

To weave the lattice, I like to start with the longest strip vertically in the middle. Then lay the next strip at a 90° angle, crossing through the middle. Add two more vertical strips on top of the horizontal strip on either side of the middle. I like to weave the lattice alternating between vertical and horizontal strips as I go until I run out of strips.

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Trim and seal the edges:

Using your fingertips, seal the edge of the pie and trim off any excess dough.

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Brush with egg wash:

Brush the lattice with a beaten egg and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.

Bake:

Bake the appeltaart for 60-70 minutes until the crust turns rich, golden brown and the apples are tender.

Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving.

To unmold the pie, carefully run a knife or offset spatula along the edge to ensure the crust isn’t sticking, then release the pan.

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