“Instead of ….writing – I go make an apple pie, or study The Joy of Cooking, reading it like a rare novel”
I know that Americans like to claim apple pie for their own (…”as American as apple pie”)… but in fact, I think the best place on earth to eat apple pie is in Amsterdam … at Winkel 43 to be precise (there are other places – follow this link to The 15 best places for an apple pie in Amsterdam – but note, Winkel 43 heads this list). Their website doesn’t seem to work, but the address is Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam.
Another place where I’ve had not just a wonderful apple pie, but also a terrific cup of tea in Amsterdam, is The Four Leaves tea house, a tranquil spot just by the Rijksmuseum. I drank Je Ne Sais Quoi tea with my pastry – a black tea (slightly bitter tannin) but with a hint of vanilla – a perfect pairing.
An alcoholic alternative to moistening the raisins in orange juice, in the traditional way, is to soak them overnight in calvados, or apple brandy.
I prefer not to cover the pie completely with pastry but to use strips (as in Madame Benoit’s tortière) as I think the whole thing is less stodgy – less is more.
Listen to Wagner’s rousing Flying Dutchman while you make this (see video extract, below) – the pie will be finished and done before you know it.
Recipe for authentic apple pie from Amsterdam
For about ten
- 300g/2¼ cups flour
- 115g/½ cup caster sugar plus two more tbsps. and another tbsp. for the cream
- Pinch of salt
- 200g/7 oz butter – chilled
- 1 egg yolk – I sometimes use the white as a sort of added glaze.
- 100g/⅔ cup raisins
- 120ml/½ cup orange juice
- 1 kg/2 lbs – about six – nice eating apples, peeled and sliced (I tend to just chop, but if you slice you achieve more of the layered effect of the Winkel 43 pie)
- 2 tbsps custard powder
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- 2 tbsps apricot jam
- 300g/1¼ cups whipping cream
- ½ tsp vanilla paste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Mix the flour, the half cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and mix in. Add the egg yolk. Mix all together with your hands and form the pastry into a ball.
- Grease a removable bottom cake tin.
- Roll out ⅔ of the dough and use this to line the bottom and sides of the cake tin. Put the tin and the remaining dough in the fridge.
- Simmer the raisins and the orange juice together in a small saucepan until the orange juice has evaporated – five to ten minutes. Alternatively, you can simply soak in calvados!
- Mix the custard powder, cinnamon and two tbsps. sugar together in a small bowl.
- Lay a layer of apple slices over the pastry base, sprinkle over a little of the sugar mix, another layer, a bit more sugar mix and so on until the apple is used up. Top with raisins and sprinkle over the remaining sugar mix.
- Roll out the rest of the pastry, cut into strips, approximately 1 cm/½” thick and criss cross over the pie. Press to secure.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until the pastry is golden. Glaze with the jam (warm it a little if it’s difficult to spread) and leave to cool for about ten minutes.
- Meanwhile add the vanilla paste and a tbsp. of caster sugar to the cream and whip it up (you can do this up to four hours in advance).
- Once cool, take the pie out of the tin – you can serve it cold, but I happen to like it warm – if you do too put it in a warming oven.
- Serve together with the whipped cream.
This post is dedicted to Felix van Litsenburg.
Wagner’s Flying Dutchman