Learn how to make a deep-dish Dutch apple pie, a spectacular dessert with a crunchy crust, tons of apples, and a generous sprinkle of spices.
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A craving for this impressive, deep-dish apple pie has been returning to me every fall ever since I first visited Amsterdam back in 2010.
In Amsterdam, the apple pie—or appeltaart, as it is called in Dutch—is queen. It’s sold in every bakery and featured on every café menu–where it is sometimes the only sweet option on offer. Everyone makes their apple pie slightly differently, but one thing’s for sure: it never looks like a classic North American apple pie. The North American apple pie is thin and the apples are generally enclosed between two sheets of pastry, one at the bottom and the other one at the top, and the top can be cut out or latticed.
The Dutch apple pie looks almost like a cake. It is baked in a springform 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 the pie is sliced. The filling is flavored with raisins, spices, lemon juice, and sometimes nuts and liqueur. Some Dutch apple pies have an “open top,” which allows you to admire the sheer amount of apples you’re about to devour in pie form. Other versions sport a crumble-like topping. A slice of Dutch apple pie is usually served room temperature or cold, and it is often garnished with whipped cream.
A piece of appletaart at the ‘t Smalle Café, Amsterdam:
One Amsterdam café has the reputation of being the Dutch apple pie institution: Winkel Café, located in the trendy Jordaan neighborhood of the city. Winkel Café 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! The dream of making Dutch apple pie hatched in my mind from the very first appeltaart bite I had in Amsterdam.
The famous Winkel apple pie, in Amsterdam:
I believe what makes Winkel’s version of the Dutch apple pie so addictive is the crust: it’s sweet, crumbly, and crunchy. The top of their pie is especially satisfying because it’s thinner and less pressed so that it eats more like a crumble than a classic pie.
I searched around for a long time to find a recipe that was similar to the Dutch apple pie I enjoyed at Winkel, but it turns out their recipe is a well-kept secret! I found hundreds of people asking for the recipe online, yet no replies. I tested many different recipes and tweaked ratios to eventually come up with a dessert that’s very close to the famous Winkel apple pie. This Dutch apple pie is spectacular: the crust is crunchy and sweet and the apples taste pure and bright. It’s a great dessert to serve to company–I think 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.
If you can’t make it to Winkel, make Dutch apple pie at home: I’m sure you’ll quickly become a fan, too!
GET A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THE RECIPE: I’ll first break down the recipe into detailed steps with helpful pictures, but you can also skip it and jump to a printable version of the recipe at the bottom of the post, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 80 minutes
For the Dutch spice mix (speculaaskruiden)
4 tsp (20 ml) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cloves
1 tsp (5 ml) grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground white pepper
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cardamom
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground coriander
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground aniseeds
For the filling
7 firm apples (such as Braeburn, Gala, or Cortland)
3 soft apples (such as Golden Delicious or Pink Lady)
1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated orange zest (about 1/2 orange)
1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1/3 cup (75 g) packed brown sugar, plus 2 tbsp (30 ml) for baking
2 tsp (10 ml) speculaaskruiden spice mix (see instructions below, or use a combination of ground cinnamon and ginger)
1 tbsp (15 ml) cornstarch
2 tbsp (30 ml) Cognac, Brandy or Calvados (optional)
1/2 cup (65 g) sultana or golden raisins
1/2 cup (57 g) chopped walnuts (optional)
For the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Set aside 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the beaten eggs to brush over the pie, then add the remaining eggs to the food processor. Sprinkle with the salt and process until the eggs are well incorporated, about 5 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. Add a third of the flour, then process until well incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, then add another third of the flour, and process for another 10 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. At this point, the mixture will start gathering together.
Add the remaining flour and process until the dough fully comes together, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. When ready, the dough looks uniform in color and it is soft and holds together when pressed. The texture should be very similar to Play-Doh.
Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rest at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
For the Dutch spice mix: Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight spice bottle or glass jar.
For the filling: Peel and core the apples, then cut them into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, mix the apples with the orange and lemon zest, lemon juice, brown sugar, spices, cornstarch, and the liqueur, raisins, and walnuts, if using. Set aside.
Set aside 1/4 of the crust mixture to create the topping. Add about half of the remaining crust mixture to the springform pan and press down to cover the entire bottom of the pan in an even layer.
Pick up chunks of the remaining crust and roughly press it against the sides of the springform pan until you’ve fully covered it. Now press it more carefully to create a smooth edge, making sure the sides seamlessly connects with the bottom crust.
Transfer the apple filling to the crust and gently press it down flatten it. Spread the remaining of the crust mixture all over the apples. You’ll need to first dot the crust mixture in chunks over the apple surface, then spread and smooth it down using your fingers or a spatula.
Brush the reserved eggs over the top of the pie, then sprinkle with 2 tbsp (30 ml) brown sugar and extra chopped walnuts, if desired.
Set the springform pan over a baking sheet (some juices may leak out during baking), then bake for 75 to 85 minutes. Check on the pie after 45 minutes: if it’s golden brown, loosely cover it with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too dark. To check whether the Dutch apple pie is done, use a bamboo skewer or a small, very sharp knife to poke through the pie. If the pie is done, you’ll easily pierce through the apples. If you feel they’re still a bit crunchy, continue baking until they’re soft.
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let it cool thoroughly before carefully unmolding. This will take at least 3 hours. Unmold, and use a very sharp knife to cut out pieces.
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
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