The history of "vlaai", or flat pies, is a long one. Initially discovered by the Germanic tribes, the story goes that they spread out dough on a hot stone and drizzled fruit juice or honey over it to make it more palatable. The dough, mind you, not the stone. Over the years, the dough was spread thinner and the amount of toppings became larger, and hey presto! they ended up with fruit pies. Whether it's true or not.......it doesn't really matter, does it? All that counts is that we have fabulous recipes for all kinds of pies!
The region I was born and raised in is called Limburg. Gastronomically one of the more interesting ones, Limburg is also famous for its "vlaaien" or pies. They're comparable to American pies although the dough is usually a yeast-based one instead of the pastry dough used here, and the pies tend to be more shallow. One of my most favorite pies is the "rice pie": a lovely creamy pie filled with a mixture similar to rice pudding. Oh the bliss!!
For the filling
2 cups and 4 tablespoons of milk
1/2 cup of pearl rice
1 egg, divided
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of sugar
For the dough
1 1/2 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons of milk
Wash the rice in cold water and rinse (you may have to do this up to three times until the water remains clear). Bring the milk and salt to a boil, add the rice and remain at a rolling boil until the rice is tender. Set aside and cool. Mix the egg yolk with the sugar and the vanilla, and beat the egg white into stiff peaks. Mix the egg yolk with the rice and when it is well blended, fold in the stiff egg white.
Butter a pie dish or metal pan. Mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Cut the butter into the flour, add the egg and the vanilla essence and knead into a soft and flexible dough. Add a tablespoon of milk at a time if needed. Roll the dough out into a circle slightly larger that the pie plate.
Heat your oven up to 390F. Line the pie pan with the dough, fold over and crimp into a nice edge. Spread the rice mix into the pie and bake to golden brown in approximately 40 minutes. Cool the pie in the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove and continue to cool on a rack.
Great served with whipped cream!