Nestled in the historic streets of Maastricht is the Bisschopsmolen or, in English, the Bishop’s Mill. It truly was once a mill and its reputation grinds on in the guise of its bakery and restaurant.
The mill was built in the 7th century and has had different roles since its construction. In the 11th century it was leased to the Principality of Liège, and in the late Middle Ages the mill was run by the Brewers’ Guild and beer brewers in the city, who needed to have their indispensable malt ground by the Bisschopsmolen. In 2004 the mill and associated building were fully renovated to the standard we see today.
A pie called Vlaai is a Limburg tradition. It has several fillings such as cherries, plums, apples, nuts or gooseberries, and there are even varieties which contain confectioner’s custard and rice. That recipe is thought to date from the time of the Spanish occupation. It is said that there are over eighty varieties of Vlaai. The cherry pie is most popular and was traditionally made during the winter when fresh fruit was out of season. The best cherries for this pie are canned, sweet, dark ones, and available at your local supermarket.
Bisschopsmolen offers classes to learn how to make their Vlaai pies. You can choose one of two or three fillings. What could make a better souvenir of a trip to Maastricht than a baking masterclass? This workshop can also include a tour of the mill and bakery, and/or a lunch.
For more information or to make a reservation, email email@example.com or phone +043-3270615.
Here is my recipe for a version of the Cherry Vlaai
500 g plain or spelt flour
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
250 ml approx. milk, warm
100 g butter, melted
20-40 g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
1 kg canned cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour)
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)
A 24cm (approx) buttered pie tin or plate
Granulated or crushed sugar for decorating (optional)
Mix the flour, yeast and warm milk in a bowl. Let sit for five minutes, then stir in the butter, the sugar, most of the egg, and the salt. Knead into a soft dough (one can use the dough hook on a stand mixer), and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.
Drain the canned cherries and save the liquid. Use two tablespoons of juice to stir with the cornstarch. Heat the rest of the juice in a saucepan, stir in the cornstarch mix and bring to a boil. Stir until the sauce thickens and carefully fold in the canned cherries. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Divide the dough into 2 portions. The first piece for the base should be a little larger than the second piece which will be for the top. Roll the dough for the base to a 3mm thick circle and line the buttered pie tin with it. Cover the dough and set aside in a warm spot until it’s puffy, probably 30 minutes. Roll out the second piece of dough and cut into 3mm thick strips. Allow this to rise for 30 minutes, then chill in the fridge. Use the tines of a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the dough in the pie tin. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and cover with the cherries. Use some of the remaining egg to brush the rim of the vlaai. Place the cut strips across the pie in a lattice fash
ion. Brush with the remaining egg, and sprinkle with sugar if using.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
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