Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Vlaai fillings (also for pies)

There are as many types of vlaai as there are... different types of pencils. different hair-styles. different types of pastry. different colours in the rainbow, different molucule combinations in a single high-pressured valve of chemicals [hypothetically speaking]. You get my point right? So I wouldn't be able to do you any just by just giving you one recipe. I want to give you the recipe as shown on the pictures and two popular fillings that have had people begging for more for roughly over a few hundred or something years.

Oh, wait! You don't know what a vlaai is? Head over to this post where I explain the whole thing. In short, it's a traditional Dutch pie crust. But unlike a pie, where the crust is made of mainly butter and flour, a vlaai crust is made of dough. The buttery yeast-dough is what makes a vlaai a vlaai.


So let's start the vlaai/pie fillings shall we? First off: the Apricot & Custard filling. While not one of the most popular fillings for a vlaai, this filling has been around for quite a while. The custard gives vlaai a creamy and rich flavour, whereas the apricots gives a nice fresh balance to it. I prefer this to the 100% custard filling, which is also quite common. Feel free to leave out the apricots and double the custard.

Filling 1: Apricot & Custard Vlaai filling
1 vlaai - from Het Nederlands Bakboek

Apricots:
1/2-1 can apricots (or a few fresh apricots)

Custard:
20 grams corn starch (or potato starch)
250 ml (whole) milk
1 egg yolk
1 vanilla bean
50 grams sugar

1. Drain the syrup from the apricots (if you're using canned apricots) and cut the apricots into halves. Cover and set aside while you make the custard.
2. Dissolve the starch in a few tablespoons of the milk. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth.
3. Heat the rest of the milk with the vanilla bean (cut in half and scrape out the seeds) and sugar in a pan on medium to high heat.
4. Once the milk is hot, pour a little into the starch mixture while whisking. Keep whisking the starch mixture, while you pour in the remaining milk.
5. Pour everything back into the pan and bring to a boil. Keep stirring or whisking until the custard thickens considerably. Once you reach a custard-like consistency, take off the fire and leave to cool.
6. Place the apricot halves onto the 'Vlaai crust' and pour the custard over the apricots and crust. Top with 'Streusel'. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.


This is one popular filling. You search 'vlaai' on Google, or look for a vlaai in the local supermarket and you will 100% definitely find a Peach vlaai next to the other ever-so-popular Cherry vlaai (see below). The peach gives it a fresh and fruity flavour. The crumbs on top are rich, sweet and buttery. The vlaai crust is slightly chewy. Sounds so good right? No wonder this is a popular combination!

Filling 2: Peach Vlaai filling
for 1 vlaai - inspired by Vlaairecepten

1 can peaches on syrup (ór 1kg fresh peaches)
2 teaspoons starch

(0.) Optional: If you're using fresh peaches, cook them with water (or juice) and sugar to taste (think 3-5 tablespoons). After roughly 10 minutes of cooking, take the apricots out and remove the skin.
1. Separate the peaches from the syrup and cut them into small chunks. Set aside.
2. Whisk the starch into the syrup until smooth and bring to a boil. Keep boiling until the syrup thickens considerably to the consistency of a soft jam or custard.
3. Take off the heat and add the peach chunks. If you feel there is too much syrup as opposed to the amount of fruits in your vlaai, you may discard some at this point (or use somewhere else).
4. Fill the 'Vlaai crust' with your peach filling and top with 'Streusel'. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.


And here's another popular version of the Dutch vlaai: Cherry Vlaai! Just like the picture of the Peach vlaai (which was made at a birthday party where people were snatching plates of cake from me) I made the picture within the first 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven and within 2 hours the whole pie was gone (so please excuse the amazing picture quality). All this baking is so rewarding - as soon as you finished all the hard work there is absolutely no evidence of anything you've done at all.

Filling 3: Cherry Vlaai filling
for 1 vlaai

1 can cherry pie filling
cinnamon, orange and star anise (optional)

(0.) Optional: cook the pie filling with some water and the spices to give the vlaai a more spicy, winter-y, awesome flavour.
1. Fill the 'Vlaai crust' with cherry pie filling and top it off with a traditional 'raster' or lattice top made of leftover vlaai crust dough (or top the vlaai with streusel, because that's totally awesome too!). Bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Note 1: Obviously, you can substitute with any of your favourite pie filings.
Note 2: To make a cherry vlaai filling with cherries in syrup, or fresh cherries, see 'Filling 2: Apricot filling' (above). 

Now you've got 3 fillings to add to your 2(-3) toppings and 1 crust. That's 6 vlaai's in two posts! If you want to try something different you can try out some other common flavours (or just get creative). Some popular flavours include: Rice-pudding, Apple, Pudding (or custard), Gooseberry and Whipped cream. But let's save those recipes for another time though shall we?


I have to say I'm intrigued by some of the 'new' vlaais one of the biggest Vlaai companies in Holland has come up with: Brownie Fudge vlaai, Chocolate Cherry Passion vlaai (sounds good!), Belgium Praline vlaai (wait, these examples are all chocolate), Schwarzwalder vlaai (oh yes!!), Stroopwafel vlaai (this sounds like heaven - I'll tell you about stroopwafels soon. And I'm telling you, you can't wait...) and Super Fruit Sensation (because wauw, that name. I'm pretty sure there's only apple in that vlaai!?).

Yes! Let's stop talking.. and drooling.. and longing. And start baking again!

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