Dutch Apple Pie, Muscovado Toffee Sauce //

“It’s all so new.” She told me as she sat at her desk. For months she’s been proudly proclaiming, to anyone who would listen, that she’s a Kindergartner. With every box of crayons, new backpack, school clothes and hair bows, she would get more and more excited for the first day. And then it came.

I was so surprised that suddenly the bounding and enthusiastic little girl who had been waiting for this day like Christmas morning suddenly was looking at me with a blank face and an overwhelmed fear in her eyes. I kissed her then had to walk away before she saw my tears.

My tears? Where did those come from? I too had been anticipating this day for well, years actually. In the dark moment of the days with a toddler flailing, a 4 year-old finding his voice and place in the world and a baby with a full diaper and tears to tell you about it, I told myself that someday they would go to school. Those were the moments when I had cursed all those older ladies who would tell me to enjoy every moment of those younger years. Really I just wished for those ladies to come over and give me a quiet moment. Now, that I would have enjoyed.

I loved those sausage thighs, the smell of baby, the nursing noises, the words that aren’t really words but make you laugh at the adorable effort but I’m not one to lament the passing of a season with longing and regret, rather I want to meet the next one with eagerness and excitement ready for where it plans to take us.

So I thought there wouldn’t be tears because I was ready. But then my baby looked up at me, seeking comfort in a scene that was overwhelmingly unfamiliar. After I wiped my eyes I went back to my little girl and held her face. “You are strong. You are brave. You are going to do great and I’m so proud of you.” And then I walked away and thought about her and prayed for her all day.

Rolling the dough Instant family classic


Throughout the day I started to walk down that ugly path of guilt. What could I have done differently to comfort her? How could I have prepared her more for all the newness? I should have talked to her more about what to expect. I should have reminded her that it’s okay if the she colors outside of the lion’s mane on her coloring sheet and that we’ve all written our b’s as d’s and d’s as b’s. But I stopped myself just before that guilt trip got too dark and the path disappeared into a dark woods with an exit nearly impossible to find.

She’s going to have that “it’s all so new” feeling many times in her life and that’s good. That feeling and then working through it to make the new not-so-new makes us stronger, braver, more confident and better people. I don’t want to swoop her to safety just when things are starting to get scary. I want to stand on the sidelines cheering her on reminding her that she can do this! That I’m close by but really she is the one that can make the new, normal. And then be brave enough to seek out more new.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for her is to tell her I love her, assure her of her confidence and bravery and let her work out the newness on her own. But you can be sure that the moment that little girl got home there was comfort. There was a warm pot of tea and something sweet because after a long day of battling the fear of the new we all need a bit of comfort and sometimes that comes in the form of pie piled high with apples and a deep heady toffee sauce that forces us to lick our plates clean.

Dutch Apple Pie, Muscovado Toffee Sauce //

Dutch Apple Pie with Muscovado Toffee Sauce


Serves 8


Pie Dough

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon flake salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 stick, cold butter, cut in cubes

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 tablespoons ice water


Apple Filling

7 Gravenstein (or other favorite baking variety) apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed


Crumble topping

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon flake salt

1 stick butter, softened


For the pie dough:

Combine 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter then pulse until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Add cider vinegar and ice water while pulsing.

The dough will look crumbly but is ready when it holds together when you squeeze it.

Form the dough into a disc then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.


Apple Filling:

While the dough chills prepare the apples.

Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, dark brown sugar, and the seeds from a vanilla bean to a large bowl. Toss it all together well then set aside.


Crumble Topping:

Add the flour, dark brown sugar, and flake salt to a bowl. Work in the butter until clumps form.


To assemble the pie:

Preheat your oven to 375°F

Roll out the pie dough and line a pie dish with the dough. Crimp the edge using your fingers.

Add the apples to the dish and pile them up high. They will shrink down quite a bit while baking.

Add the crumble topping, squeezing it together so you get some good size clumps. Some of it will be loose and more powdery, that’s fine too.

Bake with a pafchment lined sheet pan on the shelf before to catch any drips.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until deeply golden and the juices that are bubbling look thickened.

Let cool completely before serving.


Muscovado Toffee Sauce


1/2 cup muscovado

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 stick butter

1 cup cream


Add the muscovado, dark brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter to a sauce pan.

Bring to a boil and give a gentle stir to combine all the ingredients. Boil for a few minutes until the sugar is melted and the butter had melded with the sugar.

Carefully add the cream and boil 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add a pinch of flake salt and let cool until ready to serve.

The toffee sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm before serving.



*Looking for a savory snack to balance out all this sweet? I’ve teamed up with Bravo and TopChef Home Edition to create a popcorn that will blow your mind. It’s covered in a savory tomato butter then topped with basil salt and finely grated Parmesan. Get the recipe here and for more TopChef Challenges check out this page.

56 Responses to “Dutch Apple Pie with Muscovado Toffee Sauce”

  1. Alice

    This looks delicious and beautiful! How much butter is needed for the Pie Dough – I don’t see it listed in the ingredients section? Thanks!

  2. Aysegul

    These words.. they are magical, full of emotions of motherhood. I am not a mom, but your beautiful words made me feel what you are going through.
    And this pie.. You’ve got me at muscovado-toffee-sauce. #forreals 🙂

  3. jenny

    Ohhhh man. I felt those rush of tears hit me on first day of Kindergarten, too. I thought I wouldn’t – but there it was… baby all grown up! It’s a bittersweet passage, for sure. <3 I can't think of a better after school snack for comfort than this!

  4. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Actually, more like *weeping uncontrollably*.

    This was me on Noah’s first day of kindergarten. His fear, my utter meltdown. I was a little more prepared for Mateo, and kept it together.
    Now I have one more year to steel myself for Clara’s departure. When I comes, I’ll revisit this post, and remember I’m not alone in my emotions.
    Mama, it’s hard! Hang in there, both of you.
    Lots of love. xo

  5. Molly

    Beautiful words and sentiments, and oh, that toffee sauce… is it time for apple pies yet? I was trying to hold onto summer since it’s only just begun here, but this might push me over the edge into autumnal bliss.

  6. Jodi

    My daughter just started kindergarten. I cried again for about the twentieth time this week. It was beautiful! It is so true how the days seem long but they pass fast at the same time.

  7. Jacqui

    I so look forward to the days when Little M can talk to me and tell me how his day went. But then I remember that as he gets older, I won’t be able to fix everything by just holding him or nursing him. That he’ll need to find his own way. gah I feel like every day there is one more thing that makes parenting the hardest thing ever! Thank goodness for pie, and adorable kids.

  8. Piper@GotItCookIt

    You’re a great Mom, I can tell that. My kids went off to Kindergarten a long time ago, and this took me all back to it. Love the apple pie recipe with fantastic sauce… I’m on the same wave length and made Apple Crisp Cheesecake today. Will post another day… praying it chills enough to serve later this evening. LOL.

  9. shanna mallon

    Aw, it’s hard enough to step into new things myself, I can only imagine how much I’ll hate seeing my baby face scary and daunting things. I’ll want to rush in and fix everything! I love the way you responded to Ivy, assuring her and believing in her and praying for her when you left. That’s what it means to be a good mom. You love her! She knows it! What a gift to get to step into the new world of kindergarten armed with that.

  10. Claudia | The Brick Kitchen

    Your little girl is very lucky to have you! Your words in this post are beautiful – that fear of being out of our comfort zones when starting something new is something we can all relate to, and want to protect those we love from, even if it is a part of growing up. And this pie does look like the ultimate comfort food! That toffee sauce and cinnamony cooked apple with pie crust sounds like the perfect thing to dig straight into with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream <3 <3

  11. susanne

    The pie looks great. As a Dutch girl myself, I have always loved our apple pies and this looks quite similar to what we’d make. It is funny to see it in a pie form though, as we would always bake it in a round springform pan with the edges running straight up. The higher the pie the better 🙂 And the most famous apple pies do now have a crumble topping but would traditionally be woven dough banners.
    And the toffee sauce looks amazing, that totally adds to the original, we would just have it with some whipped cream or maybe vanilla ice cream but this looks delish.
    So fun to see this cross over between Dutch and American apple pies!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      I’m a Dutch girl too! Although I’ve never lived in Holland. I am so incredibly thrilled that you commented and told me all about your pie. I would love to make it in the more classic Dutch way. I love the idea of the higher the pie the better – I couldn’t agree more.

  12. Nicole @ thejameskitchen

    That was your popcorn! I stumbled over it the other day and it’s on my list to make pretty soon. What a great coincidence. Lovely Apple pie, can’t stay here though, otherwise I’ll make this now and bury all plans for a salad. Looking forward to more.

  13. Catriona | Analog Eats

    Congratulations to both of you on getting through the first day of school! This looks like the ultimate apple pie/crumble/crisp/caramel thing I’ve ever seen! And the apple cider vinegar in the crust? Very intriguing!

  14. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist

    First of all, this pie is just gorgeous and the crumble top makes me weak in the knees.
    Oh all the feelings. Just killing me. I can’t believe how fast it goes. I am about to have my first, and I’m staring at baby clothes, and all I can think is “before I know it, these won’t even be here anymore…” Sigh. Cry.

  15. Portia @ Obsessed by Portia

    Oh boy did this post resonate with me. My first baby went to full-time Kindergarten just two days ago. I have a 2 year old, as well, so I was in the same boat – I felt ready…until I didn’t. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but when I picked her and she was beaming from ear to ear, I knew she was ready…it just might take me some time 🙂 Thank you for sharing. (wiping tears away now).

  16. Rosie @ Notes of Bacon

    Oh now that sauce…How did any make it onto the cake? Literally, finger licking good.

    My lovely other half is Dutch so I think this will make a wonderful surprise to bring on some nostalgia! I’ve had trouble finding good Dutch recipes to cook him in the past (rather than him cooking them for me) so this is lovely to have the inspiration and the step by step from you. Thank you!

    • Margje

      I’m sure this applepie will taste amazing, but why is this called a Dutch applepie? Because in Holland, a classic applepie has never never ever crumble on top, but a lattice pattern, wicht after baking, is glazed with apricot jam. No brown sugar in the filling, just granulated sugar and cinnamon. Never a sauce as a side, just whipped cream.

      • Ashley Rodriguez

        I would absolutely love to try the actual classic Dutch apple pie. Over here an apple pie with a crumble topping can often be referred to as a Dutch apple pie. The sauce, I admit was totally my doing. And although I’m 100% Dutch I can’t claim that it’s dutch. I hope you do try the pie, regardless of the name. And I really hope that I can make it back to the Netherlands to try a REAL Dutch apple pie.

      • Oonai

        Wat bedoel je, Margje? Nooit gehoord van een appelkruimeltaart? There are most certainly Dutch versions of apple pie with a crumble topping!

  17. Renee Kemps

    I’m so touched by this blogpost. How you express the feelings both you and your daughter have, how you experience it, now that this special moment has come and knowing that there are going to be a lot of moments like this in your and her life. The love, the words and the apple pie that will be waiting for her when she comes home is the best thing in the world.

  18. Becca | Spices and Spatulas

    such lovely words on motherhood. And what a beautiful pie, so full of golden fall colors! The thought of apple season is making me less sad that summer’s coming to a close..thanks ever so much for the reminder! xo

  19. Christine

    How much cinnamon and ginger in the apple filling – assuming those are teaspoons?

    Thanks you Ashley! All your work is gorgeous and delicious!!!!! Thankful for the constant inspiration.

  20. Emily

    Such a great recipe, I’m doing it this Saturday. And the post is really amazing. I love reading other peoples thoughts and feeling and finding a connection. We all have similar problems, but yet each experience is unique.
    Wish you all the best!

  21. Anise Thorogood

    Oh just tug on my heart strings would ya?! I’m just in the thick of those early days: the nursing sounds, the jibber-jabberish, the small feats like rolling over…and yes I want to slap those old ladies! But it’s so true…I’m sure these days will pass just as quickly as yours did with your little ones. What a great lesson for us new mommas : letting them face their fears so they grow to be strong, independent kids and adults, but supporting all the way! Thanks for such an inspiring and beautiful post! Gonna go cuddle my little one now 🙂

  22. Carmen

    Beautiful post. My youngest daughter just started kindergarten. I felt a lot of guilt about sending my kids to school at first but I pray for them so much more when they aren’t with me. I also bake more too!

  23. Pauline

    Your post is heart-warming! My baby is only 7 months old, but one day he too will also be off to kindergarten. I hope that when that time comes (too quickly I imagine) I can also give him words of encouragement and love. And to have a warm apple pie waiting for him upon his return.
    Btw, I tried your recipe the other night and the pie was a hit! My husband and dinner guests loved it, thank you!

  24. Veronika

    Thank you for writing about the ‘hard side’ of marriage and kids. It often seems like its easy for everyone else, everyone so chipper 🙂 I am glad you still try with your dinners and picnics, it is so romantic! It reminds me to try harder

  25. Gemma

    Just back from a weekend away in Chicago with my long distance boyfriend and so wish we could wander down to the beach together with a picnic and listen to the waves and talk. The food looks delicious!

  26. Gina

    The pictures look delicious! I plan to make this for our Thanksgiving potluck this year 🙂

    One question though… Is there a flake salt substitute? I can’t seem to find flake salt at my local grocery store. Thanks!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Just a sprinkle of kosher salt will be totally fine. It’s just a matter of getting a nice hit of salt to balance the sweetness.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. Kristina Beese

    Hello Ashley,
    I intend to make this for an apple pie contest with friends, but have a few questions:
    Is muscavado a type of of sugar? Is there a substitute?
    Could I make this in a tart pan vs. a pie dish?
    Thank you so much! I’m a huge fan of yours and can’t wait to try this!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Yes, muscovado is a type is sugar. It’s less refined than traditional sugar therefore it retains much of the molasses flavor. In a pinch dark brown sugar will work. You can definitely make this in a tart pan!

  28. Kristina

    Hi Ashley, I was wondering, could I make this the day before serving? Or is it best made the day of? Trying to save myself some time on thanksgiving.

  29. Thomas

    Could this pie be made a day before serving? Or is it best made the day of? Trying to save time on Thanksgiving Day!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Yes! Absolutely it can be made in advance. I think the best idea would be to bake it the day of but make all the components the day before but it will still be delicious if made and baked the day before.