My grandma used to tell me stories about the vlaaien they would bake during Kermis, or fair time. Once a year, the fair would come to town and families would bake up to thirty vlaaien to feed friends and family: fancy ones like rice pie, rich puddings and topped with whipped cream, or plain fruit ones. The richer pies would be consumed first, the simple fruit pies would usually be the last ones to be eaten.
A cup of coffee and a slice of vlaai, it is still a traditional way of enjoying time spent with visitors or of celebrating an important milestone in one's life (even if that milestone is having found the perfect shoes on sale that afternoon!) The dough is not the flaky pastry dough as we know it here in America, but rather a yeast dough that needs to rise twice before being baked.
This kruimelvlaai (crumb pie) is a streusel-topped vanilla pudding pie. This time I chose to use a store-bought vanilla pudding mix, but you can also make this pie with pastry cream. It's a lovely vlaai, with a crunchy top, sweet pudding and a tender crust, perfect for an afternoon treat!
For the dough
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature
1/3 cup of warm milk
1 small egg
1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and set it aside to proof. In the meantime, mix the flour with the sugar and the salt. When the yeast has proofed, add the milk to the dough and mix for a minute. Add the egg and continue to mix until the dough comes together, then knead in the butter. Knead everything to a consistent whole, not too sticky but certainly not too dry. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let it rise.
For the filling
Follow the directions on the cooked pudding box or make the pastry cream per the link above. Make sure you have at least two cups.
For the streusel
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it feels like wet sand.
Grease a 9inch x 1.25 pie form, roll the dough into a circle and line the form with the dough. Poke holes in the dough with a fork, cover and let rise again until puffy.
Pour the cooled vanilla pudding on top of the dough and cover with the streusel. Bake in a 400F oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. You may need to place the pie under the broiler for a golden touch.
Eat lukewarm with a cup of coffee and in the company of good friends!