Swiss apple pie

Swiss apple pie

Growing up, I hung out with my cousins a lot and would often eat at their place. Once in a while, my Aunt Molly (my mother’s youngest sister) who was married to a Swiss man (my Uncle Richard), would make Apfelwähe for dinner. Those were the days before you could look things up on Google, so I had no idea what it was, except that it was the most fabulous apple whatchamacallit I’ve ever had.

It was only years later that I found out Apfelwähe was just the Swiss version of apple pie. Unlike the conventional English pie, this was an open-faced apple pie with custard in the centre, more like a flan. Think it was mostly the sweet custard that I was taken up with at that time.

I’ve since learnt how to make this, thanks to my aunt who gave me the recipe. In Zurich, where my cousins now live, you can easily buy store-bought pastry for the base. You can also buy shortcrust pastry at the supermarkets here to save you the trouble of having to make the pie shell.   

My cousin Noelle omits the milk and ground hazelnut for a richer and more dense custard. When baking blind, she bakes the pie shell together with the apples which act as baking beads to hold the pastry down. Then, five minutes before the pie is done, she gives her own spin by sprinkling some sugar and cinnamon over the top, and then continues baking for another five minutes to get a slightly caramelised top. How clever is that?     

The Swiss eat this for dessert, and sometimes, for dinner as the main course. You can switch the apples with other fruits in season, for example, plums or apricots. It’s also nice to eat this hot with a scoop of ice cream, or as a cold dessert. 



150g flour

115g butter

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp cold water

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp sugar (optional)

(apple filling)

4 medium sized green (or red for a sweeter pie) apples, remove skin and core, cut into wedges. 

2 eggs

250ml cream

250ml milk

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 tbsp ground hazelnut (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven at 175°C. Prepare a 22.5cm (9 inch) pie dish by oiling the base and sides. 
  2. Rub flour and butter together with your fingertips in a bowl until you get a crumbly texture, similar to breadcrumbs.
  3. Dissolve the salt in cold water, add this to the flour mixture, and later, the vinegar and sugar.
  4. Knead the mixture until you get a smooth dough. Do not knead too long or too much, else the dough will dry out and end up hard.
  1. Roll out into a round shape that’s at least 10cm larger than the pie base. Gently drape the pastry over the pie dish. Trim the sides where necessary and poke holes into the pie base with a fork. Sprinkle some ground hazelnut on the base for a drier texture (optional).
  2. Blind bake the pie shell in the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let it cool on the counter.   
  3. Arrange the apple wedges in the pie base. You may opt to sprinkle some sugar over the apples if you like your pie sweeter.
  4. Mix the eggs, cream, milk, cornflour and sugar together in a jug. Pour into the pie base. The custard should just about cover the apples.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is cooked and the top slightly browned.