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A Deep-Dish Apple Pie, Amsterdam Style

I’ve been wanting to make this pie ever since I came back from Amsterdam last spring.

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel-Style

In Amsterdam, the apple pie (or appeltaart, as they call it) is queen. It’s sold in every bakery and featured on every café menu, sometimes being the only sweet option listed. Everyone does it slightly differently, but one thing’s for certain: it never looks like a North American apple pie. The traditional apple pie on this side of the ocean is thinner and the apples are generally enclosed between two sheets of pastry, top and bottom, although the top can be cut out or latticed.

A piece of appletaart at the ‘t Smalle Café, Amsterdam.

A piece of appletaart at the ‘t Smalle Café, Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, the apple pie looks almost like a cake. It’s baked in a spring-form pan and the pastry is sweet with a sablé-like texture. The crust, instead of being rolled, is pressed into the bottom and the sides of the pan. Firm apples are used (or a mix of firm and a couple of softer apples) so that the pie keeps its shape and the apple pieces are still clearly visible when a piece is cut off. The filling is flavored with raisins, spices, lemon juice and sometimes nuts and liqueur. Most often, the top is latticed, but some completely omit pastry on top while others will opt for a crumble-like topping. It’s usually eaten cold, and often served with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top.

If you ever visit Amsterdam, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with apple pie options, and since these babies aren’t served in small portions, you’ll probably have trouble having more than one piece per day (unless you decide to make it your staple diet while you’re there!) One Amsterdam café has the reputation of being an institution in the Dutch apple pie world: the Winkel Cafe, located in the trendy Jordaan neighborhood of the city. It is featured in every guidebook and I have to say, their pie does live up to its reputation. It’s the best I’ve had in Amsterdam – so much so that I went back more than once and even had it for breakfast! Ever since I tasted it, I’ve been dreaming of making it at home.

The famous Winkel apple pie, in Amsterdam.

The famous Winkel apple pie, in Amsterdam.

I waited all summer for the apple season to come around so that I could make this impressive pie with the best local apples Quebec produces. Ready to recreate the Winkel appeltaart experience at home, I hunted for their recipe. Turns out it’s a well-kept secret! Online, I’ve found hundreds of people asking for the recipe and nobody posting it. I believe what makes Winkel’s pie so addictive is the crust: it’s sweet, crumbly and crunchy. The top is especially satisfying because it’s thinner and less pressed so that it feels more like a crumble’s topping than pastry.

I (heart) Quebec's apples!

In the end, I printed out many different recipes, looked for the similarities, tried to remember the specific flavors of the Winkel pie, and came up with my own recipe. I was really happy with how it turned out: the crust was delicious, the taste of the apples was pure and bright, and it looked really impressive. It’s a great dessert to serve to company – I believe it would even make a great birthday cake for someone who was born in the fall. Of course, it’s also great for breakfast or just as a snack. Until you fly to Winkel, make your own Dutch apple pie at home: I’m sure you’ll quickly become a fan, too!

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel Style

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel Style

This pie is easy to make – and if you’re afraid of making your own pastry, you’ll find this one is impossible to fail. It’s as simple to make as a graham-cracker crust. Simply mix all of the crust’s ingredients together in a food processor, let it rest a bit, then press it in the pan. You don’t even need to use a rolling pin!

The filling allows for variations, which I’ve listed below. Make it to please the people you are baking for. If you’re making it for children, you may want to omit the liqueur. If you don’t like raisins and/or nuts, don’t add them to the recipe. It’s that simple.

I have included the recipe for speculaaskruiden, a traditional Dutch spice mix. In the Netherlands, it’s sold pre-mixed in grocery stores (like pumpkin pie spice), but you can easily make your own. If you prefer, you can just use cinnamon, but I find the blended spices provide a more complex and intriguing aroma and taste.

It’s best to make this pie in advance because you must let the pie cool thoroughly before attempting to remove the sides of the springform pan. The pie will firm up as it cools, making it easier to cut neat pieces out of this deep-dish delight. Because Dutch apple pie is usually served at room temperature, whipped cream is the pie’s perfect companion. You can also warm up portions (in a low oven or the microwave) before serving it with ice cream. It’s also just perfect by itself, especially for breakfast or brunch.

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel Style

For the crust
1½ cups [360 g] unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
1 1/3 cups [240 g] brown sugar, packed firmly
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
5 cups [600 g] self-rising flour

For the filling
7 firm apples (such as Braeburn, Gala or Cortland)
3 soft apples (such as Golden Delicious or Pink Lady)
Finely grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup [80 ml] brown sugar (plus more for the topping)
2 tsp [10 ml] speculaaskruiden (see recipe below, or use cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spices)
2 tsp [10 ml] cornstarch
1 shot (1 oz [30 ml]) Cognac, Brandy or Calvados (optional)
½ cup [125 ml] sultanas (or raisins – optional)
½ cup [125 ml] chopped walnuts (optional)

To make the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, mix the butter and brown sugar together until creamed. Sprinkle with the salt and add almost all of the eggs, keeping a tablespoonful [15 ml] to brush over the pie later. Pulse until the eggs are well-incorporated. Add a third of the flour, pulse until well-incorporated. Add another third of the flour, pulse to incorporate, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. At this point, the mixture will still be wet, but it will start gathering together.

At this point, the mixture will still be quite wet, but will start gathering together.

Add the remaining flour and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rest at room temperature while you prepare the filling.

Add the remaining flour and pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball.

Preheat the oven at 375°F [190°C].

To make the filling:
Peel and core the apples, then cut them into bite-size pieces. In a very large bowl, mix the apple pieces with the orange and lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar, spices, cornstarch, liqueur, sultanas (if using), and walnuts (if using). Reserve.

To assemble the pie:
Grease a large, springform pan, and cover the bottom with a cut out sheet of parchment paper.

Grease a large, springform pan, and cover the bottom with a cut out sheet of parchment paper.

Reserve ¼ to 1/3 of the crust mixture for the pie’s topping (Winkel has a thick upper crust; I used less to let the apples show through). Pour the rest of the mixture into the pan and firmly press the dough against the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. It doesn’t have to be perfect! As long as the bottom and the sides are completely covered, you’re fine.

Pour the rest of the mixture into the pan and firmly press the dough against the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan.

Add the apple filling and press down to compress the filling and make it as flat as possible on top.

Add the apple filling and press down to compress the filling and make it as flat as possible on top.

Spread the remaining of the crust mixture all over the apples. Yes, it’ll be a messy process: the crust mixture is soft and the apples are moist. I used my fingers to distribute the mixture all over the top, then used a spatula to spread it as best as I could.

Brush the reserved egg wash all over the top of the pie, then sprinkle with a tablespoon or two [15 to 30 ml] of brown sugar (optional).

Brush the reserved egg wash all over the top of the pie, then sprinkle with a tablespoon or two [15 to 30 ml] of brown sugar.

Brush the reserved egg wash all over the top of the pie, then sprinkle with a tablespoon or two [15 to 30 ml] of brown sugar.

Bake for 70 to 85 minutes. Start watching over the pie after 60 minutes. If it gets too dark on top, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. After 70 minutes, test the apples to see if they are soft enough. Since you used firm apples, you won’t be able to tell just by looking at the pie if they are done. Use a small and very sharp knife to pick through. If the pie is ready, you’ll easily pierce through the apples. If you feel they’re still a bit crunchy, continue baking until the knife test is conclusive.

Let the pie cool thoroughly before removing the sides of the pan (this can take 2-3 hours!). Unmold, and use a very sharp knife to cut out pieces. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream or warm with ice cream.

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel Style

Deep-Dish Dutch Apple Pie, Winkel Style

Pie recipe created with the help of 4 sources: The Amsterdam Files, The Red Kitchen, About.com Dutch Food and the book Deliciously Dutch by Marijke Sterk.

Speculaaskruiden (Dutch Spice Mix)

Recipe adapted from About.com Dutch Food

Mix together:
4 tsp [20 ml] ground cinnamon
1 tsp [5 ml] ground cloves
1 tsp [5 ml] ground mace
½ tsp [2.5 ml] ground ginger
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] white pepper
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] ground cardamom
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] ground anise seeds
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] grated nutmeg

You need only 2 tsp [10 ml] of this spice mixture for the pie. Keep the rest in an airtight container and use it as you would pumpkin pie spice.

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31 Responses to A Deep-Dish Apple Pie, Amsterdam Style

  1. LorraineClark says:

    Lovely pies! I like the French idea of making caramel with sugar water and a little sea salt, which I pour over the apples, or lightly cook the apples in. It’s an additional flavour and firms up the centre of the tart.. French meets Dutch!
    Yummmm!

  2. Kit says:

    OMG, thank you!! I went to Winkel twice and had this pie/cake…it was one of the best desserts I ever had. Can’t wait to make your version!

    • Di says:

      After finding Winkel in October 2011 with a friend on a trip to Europe I HAD to return there with my husband in April 2012 to have more pie! We were flying from Sydney Australia to Paris for our anniversary but I insisted we fly into Amsterdam just so he could try the best pie on Earth!
      Since then I’ve made your fabulous pie many times and it is sensational! I’ve added one secret ingredient wihich I think gives the pastry a nice caramel colour and a little more crunch. I put a few speculaaskruiden biscuits (you know the little irresistible biscuit stamped with windmills) into the food processor and add it to the dry pastry ingredients. Here in Australia I found it hard to find all the spices in our supermarkets but many keep the lovely biscuits, so I thought I’d improvise.

  3. […] but also the one served at ‘t Smalle Cafe (another Amsterdam favorite), I now had a recipe to work with, and maybe I could kick this feeling of being sad about leaving Amsterdam. I even went out and […]

  4. Eddie says:

    Hey Marie,

    My girlfriend and I want to thank you for this recipe. It turned out perfectly as is…we didn’t add any of the optional and the pie crust was crunchy while the filling wasn’t too sweet.

    We baked it for 80 minutes total and checked it twice after 60. We might try 90 next because a little bit of the apples could have been a tad softer. The diameter we used was a 10 inch springform pan. Thanks again for the recipe!

  5. […] dacht ik. NIKS ERVAN! Een hoop geklik verder kwam ik op de site van een amerikaanse vrouw terecht (http://foodnouveau.com/2011/10/destinations/europe/netherlands/a-deep-dish-apple-pie-amsterdam-style…) die geprobeerd heeft de taart na te […]

  6. Scott Parker says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I’m no great baker, but when my wife and I returned from Amsterdam I knew I had to try making this at home.

    Last night was my first attempt – it was tasty, but the dough came out a little dry I thought. Any thoughts or advice?

    • Nancy says:

      At Winkels they actually roll out the dough and cut it into rounds and long rectangles to press into the bottoms and sides of pans (you can see them do it from the low windows). Knowing the Dutch love of butter, you could try adding a bit, or dampen hands when working with the dough. Just that much can make a difference. Rolling rather than pressing dough will cause greater density.

  7. Ada Prins says:

    I love this recipe and have been looking for it for a long time. Everything worked out well…except I think that the oven temperature at 375 F is too high. After 30 minutes I turned it down to 355 as the top was browning too fast. I baked it 70 mins, but the crust came out too brown and hard. Next time, I would bake it at 350 F for 60 mins and test for doneness after. Otherwise, it is very delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

    • Marie says:

      Ovens behave very differently! It’s a good idea to adjust cooking times and temperatures depending on what you know of your oven’s heating power.

  8. [...] but also the one served at ‘t Smalle Cafe (another Amsterdam favorite), I now had a recipe to work with, and maybe I could kick this feeling of being sad about leaving Amsterdam. I even went out and [...]

  9. [...] every ticking minute to taste a slice of the most delicious apple pie I have ever tried! I found this recipe through Food Nouveau and I can’t wait to test out my apple pie baking [...]

  10. [...] recipe I chose was from Food Nouveau as she adapted the recipe from the few sources found online. I do have to say that I felt the pie [...]

  11. [...] but also the one served at ‘t Smalle Cafe (another Amsterdam favorite), I now had a recipe to work with, and maybe I could kick this feeling of being sad about leaving Amsterdam. I even went out and [...]

  12. [...] 6. Based on Heather’s reco, my friend Olivier says that the best Apple pie is to be found at Winkel Café [...]

  13. Christine Pemberton says:

    I just returned from Amsterdam 2 days ago. During our visit, our concierge recommended the Winkel Cafe though he didn’t know the name of it. He plotted our walk on a map but when we got there, we saw the sign for appletaart and knew it had to be the place. However, we had no idea what we wee in for. It was THE most amazing apple cake (tart, pie, whatever) that we’d ever eaten. The waitress stated they make and sell about 50-60 cakes a day and on weekends sometimes on weekends or when the farmers market is up on Saturdays they sell anywhere from 90-100 cakes(there is a very famous farmers market with locally grown food and the best cheeses on the square across the street from the cafe). Anyway, I woke up thinking about this and saw your recipe. You can imagine my relief. I can’t thank you enough. It’s gonna be included in my “favorites” next to my family crumb cake.

    • Marie says:

      Hello Christine! Isn’t Amsterdam great? I loved that city, its energy and the creativity breeding over there. I’m so glad you got to taste Winkel Cafe’s amazing appletaart! Saturdays are indeed crazy with the market. While in Amsterdam, we rented an apartment that was right in front of Winkel and the market, so we were able to survey the crowd and go grab a slice when we saw the line was shorter! A little too tempting, don’t you think? I hope you will try to make my rendition of Winkel’s tart and let me know what you think.

      • Christine Pemberton says:

        Marie. I have all the ingredients and plan to make an attempt to bake it tomorrow. Cross your fingers.

  14. Laurie says:

    My family just came back from a trip to Amsterdam where we stumbled on Winkel. We all raved about the apple cake. My daughter is planning on making your recipe tonight. Thanks so much for posting it!

    • Marie says:

      A few Dutch friends tried my recipe and loved it! They thought it was pretty authentic, so I’m sure you’ll love it. A little piece of Winkel into your own home! Make sure to come back and tell me how it turned out!

  15. ButterYum says:

    This looks amazing. My good friend from the Netherlands makes an amazing Appeltaart. I just did a post about it – I hope you’ll stop by for a visit to see her version.

    :)
    ButterYum

  16. Julie B says:

    Vraiment tentant comme recette! Je garde en référence pour l’année prochaine. C’était ma première année de récolte avec les pommiers que j’ai sur mon terrain et j’en ai eu à ne plus savoir quoi en faire.

    Sorry if it’s rude to post in french… en passant ton blog est toujours très beau!

  17. [...] “In the Netherlands, the apple pie looks almost like a cake. It’s baked in a spring-form pan and the pastry is sweet with a sablé-like texture. The crust, instead of being rolled, is pressed into the bottom and the sides of the pan. Firm apples are used (or a mix of firm and a couple of softer apples) so that the pie keeps its shape and the apple pieces are still clearly visible when a piece is cut off. The filling is flavored with raisins, spices, lemon juice and sometimes nuts and liqueur. Most often, the top is latticed, but some completely omit pastry on top while others will opt for a crumble-like topping. It’s usually eaten cold, and often served with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top.” w/ photos [...]

  18. Denise @ TLT says:

    Yeah, Amsterdam girl here!
    Mmm, appeltaart is always good:) And yours looks beautiful!

  19. Isabelle says:

    Oh wow! I am definitely trying this one out and I have the perfect candidate to put it to the test, a Dutch from Amsterdam :P

  20. Jason Phelps says:

    The pictures really tell the story of this delight. I’ll be making my first pies of this season this weekend, and trying one in this style will be a nice change for me.

    Jason

  21. La Chapstick Fanatique says:

    That looks so delicious! Apple pie is one of my all time fave desserts.

    http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

  22. That is one deep dish apple pie!!! It looks terrific. It reminds me of the apple breton cake I made recently.

  23. Glenn says:

    Now, that’s an apple pie!

    Beautiful!

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