Vlaai (pronounced like fly with a "v" instead of an "f") is a traditional pie or tart from the Province of Limburg in the southern part of the Netherlands. There are many varieties -- rice, cherry, white chocolate, apple and rum, crumb, gooseberry -- so use your imagination. The following is one of the most popular types, apricot.
Sift 500 grams (4 cups) of flour with a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Warm 1/5 dl (2/3 cup) of milk. Cream 20 g (3/4 oz) of fresh yeast with the milk in a small bowl. Leave in a warm place until it becomes frothy. Make a hollow in the mound of flour and pour in the creamed yeast. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour.
Add 1 large beaten egg, 100 g (1/2 cup) melted butter and 100 g (1/2 cup) of sugar and knead to a soft dough which easily comes away from the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a ball, cover the container with a damp cloth and leave for about 1 hour in a warm place until the dough is well risen. Preheat the oven to 230 C (450 F).
Lightly grease two large, flat flan tins. Knead the risen dough on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line the flan tins. Cover the dough with about 900 g (2 lbs) of apricot compote and garnish with 16 apricot halves, fresh or tinned (the former being preferable, of course). Bake for 15-25 minutes in the center of the oven. Cool the vlaai on a wire tray and serve with whipped cream if desired.
This special vlaai can also be decorated with a trellis work of pastry. Use slightly less dough for the base of the vlaai and cover the fruit compote with a trellis work of pastry strips, approximately 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Use apple or cherry compote as a filling instead of apricots, if desired, and if fresh fruit is not available, use a commercial fruit pie filling.
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