Around this time last year, I was frantically planning a last minute trip to Europe. I was WOOFing at a farm in the south of France for about a week, met up with Luke for a couple nights in Belgium, after which we made our way on the high speed rail to the Netherlands. Let me just say that I love it there, and if I wasn’t such a family-oriented homebody I would move there in a HEARTBEAT. I’m not exaggerating, I looked up apartments in Haarlem the other day and it is so incredibly charming.
Also: everyone was so tall in Amsterdam, I felt right at home 😉
I love how there is such a culture of cycling there (though we didn’t actually rent any bikes, Luke thought we’d get run over). They dominate the streets more than the cars do. Instead of parking garages for cars, there are parking garages for bikes. The streets are lined with locked up bikes; they really are a fixture of Dutch living. Despite not renting bikes, we managed to do a lot of sightseeing with a lot of scenic walks and occasional use of the very efficient public transit.
While we definitely had a list of places to see and visit, I also had list of things I wanted to eat. This included a fresh stroopwaffel (pure bliss, I tell you), appelbollen (an apple doughnut), poeffertjes (tiny pancakes), hagelslag (bought the sprinkles, didn’t find a sandwich there), gouda, croquettes.. I didn’t end up getting to try the patatje oorlog (french fries with mayo, raw onions, and Indonesian sate sauce), and as much as I tried to convince him, Luke was not interested in trying raw herring.
Another food I never crossed off the list was an appeltaart, a dessert that is like a pie-cake fusion. There were chalkboard signs outside almost every restaurant offering ‘appeltaart met slagroom’ for dessert (apple pie with whipped cream). Even though I didn’t get to try one, I felt determined to recreate this classic Dutch dessert. The crust, which feels somewhat like a wetter cookie dough, is pressed into a springform pan or pie plate, the filling is piled in just like a pie, and the remaining crust is laid on top (usually in a lattice). The dough is pretty tender and doesn’t handle like typical pie crust, lending itself to a dessert that looks a bit more rustic, which is the name of my game.
I opted for speculaas spices in the crust and filling, though cinnamon is actually the traditional choice for an appeltaart. Speculaas is a blend of warming spices (think: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, etc) used in Dutch cookies of the same name; these cookies are stamped with fun images, and I love dunking them into my tea or coffee. I like the addition of the other spices in the pie, but if you don’t feel like mixing the blend together you can just stick with cinnamon.
appeltaart (dutch apple pie) (dairy free)
125 g / 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used a local red fife)
125 g / 1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
102 g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
168 g / 3/4 cup coconut oil, soft but not melted
1 large free range organic egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon speculaas spices
880g apples, cored peeled + sliced (I used a combination of Lobo and Paula Red)
juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons speculaas spices
70 g / 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
15 g / 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
67 g / 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
10 g / 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
coconut whip (optional)
one can coconut milk, chilled 24 hours
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350F fan (375 regular). Cream coconut oil and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add egg and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add flour, salt, spices, and baking powder and mix by hand until a dough forms. Divide the dough into two thirds/one third. Take the bigger amount and press evenly across the bottom of the pan and the sides. Roll out the other 1/3 on a floured counter or flatten with your hand. Cut into strips or use a cookie cutter to make shapes.
Combine the apples, lemon juice, spices, raisins, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the bottom crust. Spoon the filling in. Layer the strips of dough across the filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. The edges will get a bit more brown and crisp than the centre, but you’re looking for the crust to firm up all the way across.
While the tart is baking, you can make the coconut whip. Open the can of coconut milk, and scoop the cream from the top into a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (you can save the water to drink or blend into a smoothie). Add the icing sugar and vanilla, then whip on high speed with a hand blender or in the mixer for 5-6 minutes.
This really is best the day it is made. It gets pretty soft in the days following (but still delicious), so I recommend placing it back in a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes to crisp up. Truthfully I don’t mind and have been eating it cold from the fridge all week.. 😉
The dough can be hard to work with when it comes to making the top of the pie, but don’t worry too much about it. Try to cover as much of the filling as possible, as apple fillings tend to dry out if exposed directly to the heat of the oven.
I’ve had a lot of coconut whipped cream not work out, so under the recommendation of Ashlae, I tried with the Aroy-D brand and it worked great.