Limburg is a province in the South of the Netherlands that is famous for its pies, known as vlaai. I’ve already posted recipes for a version with cherries, kersenvlaai, and one with apricots, abrikozenvlaai. One of the most famous types is vlaai with gooseberries (kruisbessen in Dutch, krosjele or kroezjel in the local dialect), topped with meringue.
Gooseberries can be either red or green and are related to currants, but they are a lot bigger. They have a tart flavor that reminds me a bit of rhubarb, and if you can’t find gooseberries you could in fact substitute them with rhubarb in this recipe. The tart soft gooseberries are a great contrast with the sweet crunchy meringue on top. Like other vlaai, the pie itself is made from a yeasted dough. You can adjust the amount of sugar in the dough and the filling on your personal preference. This pie is a bit of work, but it is definitely worth it. It is super delicious and as of now my favorite kind of vlaai. Here’s how to make one so you can taste it yourself…
450 grams (1 lb) gooseberries
250 grams (1 2/3 cup) flour
80 ml (1/3 cup) milk
15 grams (.5 oz) fresh yeast, or 5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
2 eggs, separated
20 grams (1 1/2 Tbsp) butter, plus more for greasing the pie shape (use lard for a more traditional vlaai)
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
70 grams (2/3 cup) icing sugar
4 Tbsp breadcrumbs, or crumbled amaretti cookies
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp corn starch
Heat up 80 ml (1/2 cup) of milk in the microwave such that it is lukewarm (about 30C/85F). Add 15 grams (.5 oz) yeast in crumbles, or 5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast, and 1 to 4 Tbsp of sugar, depending on how sweet you’d like the dough to be.
Mix until the dough comes together. Add a bit more milk if the dough does not come together, or a bit more flour if the dough is very sticky. It should be slightly sticky and have the consistency of fresh pasta dough.
Put the dough in a bowl (the bowl of the stand mixer is fine, but I needed it for something else), cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise at a warm place until doubled in volume, about one hour. The oven with the light turned on is a good place for this.
Meanwhile, prepare the gooseberries. Wash 450 grams (1 lb) of gooseberries and remove the green stems. Put them in a saucepan with 200 ml (5/6 cup) water and 1 to 4 Tbsp of sugar, again depending on how sweet you’d like the pie to be.
Roll out the dough to a circle of 32 cm (13″) on a floured work surface (a wooden surface is easiest).
Since I made a sweet version, I paired it with a Riesling Beerenauslese from Mosel, and that was outstanding. The wine has the same exciting contrast between sweetness and tartness as the pie. An icewine would also be a good choice.
If you make it with less sugar, a Moscato d’Asti or a sweet Riesling Auslese (with less than 8% alcohol by volume) would be good choices.
Penne all’Arrabbiata is a classic Italian dish that is as simple and quick as it is delicious.