Vlaai: Fruit Pie From Limburg

Ask any Dutch person to name a typical food from the province of Limburg and they will most probably answer: "vlaai"! Vlaai is a pie made of a flat spongy base that is then topped with fruit and whipped cream. It is said that vlaai originally was a Germanic dish.

Germanic tribes would bake flat breads on hot stones and top them with honey or fruit. They called this bread "vladel". In the early Middle Ages German monks baked similar cakes to offer at Easter, which they called "vlade". From there the custom spread to Belgium and the Southern Dutch province of Limburg.

Vlaai used to be a luxury bread baked only at special occasions such as Easter, weddings, local fairs, birthdays and the like. Nowadays you can buy it at any time of the year at bakeries in Limburg or at the nationwide vlaai shop Multivlaai. They come in all kinds of varieties and not only with fruit. To give you an idea: Multivlaai offers over 50 different tastes! Making a home baked vlaai is easy and very tasty:

For the base:
2 cups (250 gr.) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30 gr.) sugar
1 sachet dried yeast
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup (50 ml) milk
1/4 cup (50 ml) melted butter
1 flat, round cake form

For the filling:
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 vanilla stick or 2 sachets of vanilla sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 gr.) sugar
2 tbsp custard powder
3 tbsp hot milk
1/4 cup (50 ml) melted butter
2 jars of apricots (or any other fruit of your choice)
2 tbsp apricot marmalade (or any other marmalade that matches the fruit of your choice).

1. Mix the ingredients for the base until you get a nice smooth and elastic dough. Let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour in a covered container.
2. While the dough rises you can make the filling. Warm the milk until almost boiling and add the vanilla stick. Give the vanilla about 10 minutes to flavor the milk (if you do not have a vanilla stick just dissolve 2 sachets of vanilla sugar in the milk).
3. Beat the two yolks with the sugar until creamy.
4. Add the custard powder and 3 tablespoons of hot vanilla milk.
5. Add this to the rest of the hot milk and stir until you get a nice, creamy mass.
6. Take the cream off the fire and add the melted butter. Stir until the butter has completely dissolved into the cream.
7. Preheat you oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
8. Grease your cake form with some butter.
9. Cover your working space with some flour. Take about 3/4 of the dough and form it into a flat disk of about 0.2 inch (0.5 cm) thick.
10. Cover your cake form with the dough disk.
11. Add the custard cream to the form.
12. Put the apricots on top.
13. Cut long strips of the remaining dough and put them cross-wise over the filling. Make sure they stick well to the border.
14. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top.
15. Put the cake in your oven just below the middle and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
16. Cover the top with two tablespoons of apricot marmalade directly after removing the vlaai from the oven.

Serve cold with whipped cream. Enjoy!