Gooseberry Meringue Pie from Limburg (Kruisbessenvlaai, Krosjelevlaai mit Sjoem)

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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.

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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…

Ingredients

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For a 27 cm (11″) pie

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

Preparation

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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.

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Stir to mix.

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Combine 250 grams (1 2/3 cup) flour, 2 egg yolks, and 20 grams (1 1/2 Tbsp) butter in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Turn on the machine on slow speed and slowly add the milk mixture.

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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.

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Switch over to the dough hook, and knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and pliable, about 5 minutes.

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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.

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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.

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Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

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Mix 2 Tbsp of corn starch with a bit of cold water, and stir until smooth. Add this slurry to the gooseberries.

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Stir and cook for about a minute until the mixture has thickened somewhat. It will thicken more when the compote cools off. Allow it to do just that.

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Meanwhile, the dough should have doubled in volume.

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Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.

Roll out the dough to a circle of 32 cm (13″) on a floured work surface (a wooden surface is easiest).

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Grease a 27 cm (11″) pie shape with butter.

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Put the circle of dough in the pie shape.

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Trim the edges — a rolling pin is a good tool for this.

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Prick the dough with a fork all over (so the bottom will stay flat when baking).

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Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of breadcrumbs (or crushed amaretti cookies, although that is of course not authentic).

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Add the gooseberry compote…

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…and spread it out. Bake for 15 minutes at 220°C/425°F (not fan forced).

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Meanwhile, make the meringue. Weigh the 2 egg whites. In my case 2 egg whites were 70 grams.

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You will need 1.5 times the weight in sugar, so in my case 105 grams.

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Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and use clean beaters to whisk them.

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As soon as the egg whites have fluffed up, start adding the sugar in 4 additions.

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Keep beating the egg white until they have ‘stiff peaks’, which means that if you lift the beaters, you will see peaks of meringue that do not collapse.

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You will need the same weight of icing sugar as the weight of the egg whites, so in my case 70 grams.

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Use a rubber spatula to carefully fold the icing sugar into the meringue.

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In the meantime, the pie should come out of the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 160°C/320°F.

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Use a piping bag to pipe the meringue on top of the pie.

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Bake the pie for 30 minutes at 160°C/320°F (not fan forced), or until the meringue is crunchy but still slightly soft in the center.

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Allow the pie to cool completely before serving. Vlaai is always best eaten the same day for the best flavor and the best contrast between the textures of the pie, the compote, and the meringue.

Wine pairing

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.

Flashback

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Penne all’Arrabbiata is a classic Italian dish that is as simple and quick as it is delicious.

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12 thoughts on “Gooseberry Meringue Pie from Limburg (Kruisbessenvlaai, Krosjelevlaai mit Sjoem)

  1. When I saw the name ‘Limburg’ thoughts immediately turned to Limburger cheese and Dutch gin of course! [My late aunt living near Hamburg kept it: and I have known a headache or two from it 🙂 !] Even the famed asparagus of the area . . . Don’t normally bake but this does look good – just have never seen red gooseberries before – both back ‘home’ and here in Australia they are green: well yellowish green if you want to enjoy them in the just picked state!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grown up in Limburg with a Belgian mother to top that I ate my share of this kind of vlaai. The version of kroonselevlaoi I remember doesn’t have a compote as filling, but the whole berries. I did have somekind of a love-hate relationship with it, me being a kid, and the pie having a lot of accidity… Now I really love it – it’s more of an adult flavour I guess.

    Oh, by the way: I really love your website!

    Liked by 1 person

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