It's not quite fall yet, but our local orchard is already announcing the ripeness of their first apples. We pick varieties as they ripen, so towards the end of the month, we always end up with a couple of apples of each flavor. Some are sweet, some are tart, some hold up well in the oven and others become jammy and tender. I don't mind as it's a perfect mix for apple pie!  

Vlaai, a broad and flat yeast dough pie, is originally from the province of Limburg. During the weekly bread baking duties, women would often flatten out a piece of leftover bread dough and cover it with slices of fresh fruit or a ladle of sweet jam, so that they had something to eat with their coffee (and you know how much we like our coffee time!). When the bread baking was delegated to the village baker, who baked and brought it to the house, vlaaien would only be baked for Sunday visits, during village fairs and for the holidays. 

Baking vlaai on Sunday is still a bit of a tradition in the South, and a piece of warm vlaai straight out of the oven is often eaten for lunch, with a cup of coffee or two. Depending on what fruit is seasonal and ripe, you could get apple vlaai, cherry vlaai or plum vlaai. If there was no fruit to be had, or it was a special occasion, sometimes you'd get kruimelvlaai, a sweet custardy vlaai with crunchy streusel on top. 

Today's vlaai, appelkruimelvlaai, or apple crumble vlaai, is similar to the Dutch apple pie that many are familiar with, albeit it with less sugar. The natural flavor of the apple is allowed to shine through, and because you only bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, some of the apple still has a bit of a bite. Fantastic!

The vlaai dough is easy to make. The average vlaai pan is 11 inches (28 cm) wide and a little over 1 inch (2.5 cm) high, but any similar size will do,  so don't let that hold you back!

For the dough
1/3 cup milk and 2 Tbsp (100 ml), lukewarm
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup (250 gr) all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons (30 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 egg
1/2 stick butter (55 gr), soft at room temperature
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs or panko

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, and let it proof while you measure out the rest of the ingredients. Add the flour to a mixing bowl, sprinkle the sugar and salt on top and give it a stir. Now pour in the milk with the yeast and start mixing. As the dough comes together, add in the egg and the soft butter and let the whole mixture come together while you need it into a soft dough. (You may need to add a tablespoon or two of milk in case the dough turns out to be a bit dry).

Form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover and let it rise. In the meantime, make the filling.

For the filling*
4 to 5 large apples, various flavors
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 heaping tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch
2 tablespoons panko

For the topping
1 cup (150 grams) all purpose flour
1 stick butter (110 grams), cold
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

Peel and core the apples, then cut into dice. Slices are okay too, but for this pie I like the cubes, they add a bit of texture. Toss the apples with the lemon juice, the sugar, cinnamon and the cornstarch. Keep the panko aside until you are ready to assemble the vlaai.

Grease your pie pan, or vlaaivorm, and roll out the dough into a large circle. Transfer it to the pan, and cut off any excess dough you may have. Poke holes in the dough so that it doesn't seize up while baking, cover and let it rest while you make the kruimeltopping.

Cut the butter for the topping into small pieces. Mix the flour and the sugar in a bowl, and rub the butter between your fingers in the flour. I tend to put flour and butter between the palms of my hands and rub them together (I have no patience!) until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Heat your oven to 400F/200C. Sprinkle the panko on top of the dough (this prevents too much juice going into the dough and making it soggy). Pour the apple mixture on top of the vlaai dough, flatten it out a bit and then top with the crumble. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, and check to see if your kruimeltopping is browning. If it's not already golden, give it five more minutes and then finish it under the broiler for a nice golden color. Do not walk away at this point, these broilers are fast!!

Let the vlaai cool so that the filling can settle, cut into generous pieces and enjoy it by itself, with a dollop of whipped cream or a la mode, with a big scoop of ice cream.

*If you would like, you can add raisins, currants, boerenjongens or boerenmeisjes to the filling.


  1. Made this today. Very clear recipe. I added some oatmeal to the crumb & drizzled caramel on top. I know I totally Americanized a good Dutch recipe but that's the benefit of the best of both worlds!

    1. Caroline, what a great idea! I love the benefit of having the best of both worlds, especially if it involves caramel :-)

    2. Good day, just found your recipe. Could you tell me what size a stick of butter is please? I'm in the UK and we don't have sticks, it's more like a rectangular block similar to the Netherlands. Also, what is "panko" please?

      Hope to hear from someone before Friday because it's my DD'S birthday and she asked for a Appelkruimelvlaai as "birthday cake" bless her��

    3. According to Google, 1 stick (or 1/2 cup) of butter is equal to 4 ounces, or 113 grams.
      And Panko is basically just a box bread crumbs, like the kind that you can buy at Tesco :-)

      Hope this helps!

    4. CM Dee,

      A stick of butter is a little less than half the block of butter, 113 grams to be precise. There is a page on the site called What's In A Cup? that helps with conversions. It's a good question!

      Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that is crispier, lighter and slightly sweeter than regular breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs will work just fine, as Friti suggested (Thank you Friti for the quick response!).

      "Congratulations with your daughter's birthday", as we say in Dutch, I hope it is going to be a wonderful day. She certainly has great taste in vlaai, and it's sweet of you to bake one for her special day!

  2. May I request a recipe for sateh sauce / peanut sauce? All my attempts to recreate the Indo-Dutch version of the condiment have failed dramatically and i love the stuff so much! I especially like it on my fries and on Brussels sprouts!

    1. Yes, you may! Even better, there is already a recipe for peanut sauce under Saté babi. Click on the link on the Recipe list on your right and you're set!

  3. Love your blog. Every time I read your recipes & see the pictures, I get hungry. Thank you for sharing with us. RoseM

  4. Zo een leuke blog! Ik ben blij dat ik hem gevonden heb!

  5. Made this over the weekend! My family loved it. I usually am not successful with pies (cookies, breads, and cakes are more my forte), but this recipe was easy to follow and the result was the best pie I have EVER made! This one is a keeper that will be used again and again.

    1. Hi Rachel, reading your feedback gives me hope hahaha... I hope I can pull it off too this Friday ��

  6. Applecruimelvlaai 3 INCHES high? I think that is a mistake as I am a limburger eats this vlaai regularly. Never, ever have seen it that high, Not even at the bakery!

    1. Oops! You are right - that should read little over 1 inch, or 3 cm. Thank you!


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