The dinner I cooked for Clayton when he visited had to contain something Dutch. After some thinking, I came up with Limburgse abrikozenvlaai, a tart from the province of Limburg that is made with a yeasted dough. I already wrote about kersenvlaai (with cherries) a while ago. Since it’s summer, fresh apricots are available. The apricots are cooked before they are used in the vlaai.
A vlaai is best when eaten very fresh, but this tart is so delicious it won’t be a problem to finish it quickly.
For a 27 cm (11″) vlaai
250 grams (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
15 grams (.5 oz) fresh yeast, or 5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
20 grams (1 1/2 Tbsp) butter plus more for buttering the pie shape
100 ml (7 Tbsp) milk
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp crushed amaretti cookies, or breadcrumbs
For the filling
1 kg (2.2 lbs) fresh apricots
60 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
juice of 1 lemon
1 egg white
2 Tbsp coarsely granulated sugar
Heat the milk in the microwave oven just to lukewarm. Add the yeast and sugar and stir.
Combine the flour, butter, egg yolk, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.
Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and start mixing on low speed. Add the milk mixture slowly.
Keep mixing until the dough comes together. It may be needed to add a bit of additional milk.
Fit with the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
The dough should have the consistency of fresh pasta dough (smooth and elastic, not sticky).
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. The best place for this is inside a closed oven with only the light turned on.
Meanwhile, put the apricots in a saucepan, add the lemon juice, and barely cover with water.
Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Drain the apricots after cooking, reserving 500 ml (2 cups) of the cooking liquid.
Remove the pits from the apricots. They should be so soft that you can easily break the apricots in half with your fingers and then remove the pits. If needed you can remove the skin as well.
Put the reserved apricot cooking liquid back into the saucepan.
Add the sugar.
Dissolve the corn starch in about 3 Tbsp of cold water and add this to the saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring, and cook for 30 seconds or so until it becomes thick.
Add the apricots, stir, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Reserve a third of the dough for the top of the tart and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 200C/390F (static) or 180C/350F (fan). Put an oven proof dish with about 125 ml (1/2 cup) of water in the oven.
Roll out the dough for the bottom to a circle of about 32 cm (13″), big enough to cover your pie shape.
Butter a 27 cm (11″) pie shape and put the dough in the pie shape. Puncture it here and there with a fork.
Sprinkle with crushed amaretti (or breadcrumbs). Breadcrumbs are more traditional, but amaretti have a nicer flavor and they are used in Italy for the similar crostata di albicocche (which is however made with pastry dough rather than yeasted dough).
Add the apricot mixture and level it out.
Roll out the dough for the top, cut it in strips of about 1.25 cm (1/2″) wide and use it to cover the vlaai with a lattice pattern.
Beat the egg white until foamy. Brush the top of the vlaai with the egg white.
Sprinkle the top of the vlaai with
Bake for about 25 minutes at 200C/390F (static oven) or 180C/350F (fan).
Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
To allow the bottom to dry, if you dare you can carefully remove the vlaai out of the pie shape as soon as it has cooled off enough for you to handle, and allow to cool to room temperature on a rack.
Vlaai is often eaten with coffee or tea in the Netherlands. If you are serving it for dessert instead and you’d like to add a dessert wine, moscato d’asti is the way to go.