Before coming to Holland, what I understood to be a “Dutch apple pie” was an American apple pie, just with a crumb topping. That is NOT what apple pie or appeltaart/”apple tart” is in Holland, nor did that picture in my head prepare me for the life-altering experience I had at Winkle 43 today, a cafe in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam that has a renowned appeltaart. Multiple local and tourist guides mentioned Winkle 43, not to mention several colleagues who have lived in/are from Amsterdam. They told me I absolutely could not leave Amsterdam without having this tart. And so we went yesterday.
Winkle 43 is a cafe with ample indoor and outdoor seating. Though there may be queues, they are quite efficient with ordering, paying, and giving you your order on a tray. We opted to sit outside since there were no seats available indoors, plus outside, though cold, we’d disturb people less with our filming of my apple pie eating.
Here is what I learned yesterday about a real Dutch Apple tart: it is NOT baked in a regular American pie pan; instead, it’s actually baked in a cake pan, rather a springform pan, to allow for a super high crust and even more apple filling. The filling is big hunks of apples, not slices like in American apple pie; plus the filling is really just sugar with a touch of cinnamon. The top, bottom, and side crusts could be compared more to a biscuit or cookie, very sweet and could even stand on its own. It’s thick, too. If you were to break off a chunk of that crust and give it to me with zero context, I’d be satisfied and think you gave me a really, really delicious shortbread cookie/biscuit. Again, what I just described = NOT American apple pie crust.
Chris and I shared a slice of this sky-high apple tart, and after a single bite, I really regretted getting only one slice to share. That single piece of pie alone could have made this entire trip worth it: I’d never been more blown away by any pie in my life. The crust was just astounding — it was far sweeter than I anticipated, but in a very pleasing way — it seemed like it was made with large granules of sugar, perhaps some variation of a muscovado sugar. Each bite of the crust in my mouth was like a separate little bite of a cookie. And the apple chunks were delicious — oozing with apple flavor, a hint of spice, likely cinnamon and maybe one or two other things. While the bite of the apple remained and had some give, at the same time, some of the apples were just so custardy. I’d never had a more noteworthy apple pie experience ever before this.
And to literally top this all off, Winkle 43 makes their own housemade whipped cream regularly (you can actually see them adding the fresh cream into the whipping machine), lightly sweetened, and you can ask for it either on top of your pie or on the side. This really could not have gotten any better than it was that day.
I’m still thinking about how delicious this pie was. I need to replicate that pie at home someday soon. I’m adding it to my list already.