- 30 cm flan tin (pan),
- greased with butter
- 300 g all purpose flour
- ½ sachet easy-blend/easy-bake dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 100 ml lukewarm milk (approx.)
- 25 g soft butter
- 25 g white castor sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 g salt
- 250 ml milk
- ¼ vanilla pod
- 2 egg yolks
- 50 caster sugar
- 25 g cornflour
- 50 ml milk
- 800 g bottled, canned or prepared fresh fruit,
- such as sliced apples, halved plums, halved apricots or cherries
- (do not use berries)
- 50 g sugar (for fresh fruit)
- 150 ml juice,
- 8 g potato flour
- or sugar
This sweet pizza of the south of the Netherlands may boast a long history. The name is a corruption of Latin platus, ‘flat’, and the word Vladbecker (‘baker of vlaai-tarts’) is attested in Limburg as early as 1338. But its history goes back much further. The British Museum owns a 3000 years old prototype from an Egyptian grave: a mini ‘vlaai’, complete with some fruits on it, as a gift for the journey in the hereafter.
In Limburg the vlaai was originally a special treat during a church-fair, held twice a year. Now you can buy it anywhere in The Netherlands. Factories punch out ten thousands of ‘vlaaien‘ every day.
- Sift the flour and make a well. Pour the instant yeast into the well. Add sugar and a little of the milk. Leave for 10 minutes.
- Add the remainig milk, the butter, the castor sugar and the egg, knead well, then add the salt. Knead until the dough does not stick to the hands anymore and airholes have formed which burst with a soft cracking noise when you squeeze them. If the dough seems too dry, add some extra milk.
- Cover the bowl with a dampened dish towel and leavet he dough to stand at room temperature until it has doubled in size.
- Roll out on a floured working surface. Line the form with it, the side (3 cm) too. Prick in, cover with moist cloth and let rise again for a quarter of an hour.
- Preheat oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas 6.
- Meanwhile make the filling. Heat 200 ml milk with the pod. Beat the yolks with the sugar and cornflour. Mix in 50 ml cold milk, sieve. Then add to the milk while stirring. Let thicken for some minutes, stirring all the time. Cover the surface of this ‘vla’ with clear film to prevent a skin. Cool off to lukewarm. Discard the pod. Whisk the filling until creamy.
- Drain the canned fruit if using. Measure 150 ml of the juice. Mix the potato flour with some water to a paste in a bowl, the stir into the juice and cook stirring until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Spread the ‘vla’ onto the risen dough, cover with the fruit: fresh fruit sprinkled with 50 g sugar (plums and apricots inside up). Bake for 30-35 minutes on a lower shelf of the oven. Decorate with the thickened juice after cooling off, or sprinkle with sugar.
Vlaaien are also made with a filling of rice or semolina porridge mixed with eggs, or with a topping of egg whites, a dough covering (Toesjlaag), crisp dough crumbs (Kruimelkes) or a dough lattice (Loederkes). Here a recipe for crumbs, to be strewn over the fruit filling.
150 g all purpose flour
150 g finely ground almonds
150 g sugar
120 g cold butter
- Mix flour, almond powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Grate the butter coarsely. Cut through the flour, mix with two knives and let the contents of the bowl flow through your cold fingers until you have got a bowlful of crumbs. Top the vlaai with the crumbs. Bake as above. Sprinkle with icing sugar after cooling off.