Limburgse vlaai’ is a pastry traditionally associated with Belgian and Dutch Limburg. The pastry is regarded as typically Limburg elsewhere in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is often offered on occasions when people want to emphasise the hospitality of Limburg.
One of the oldest mentions dates back to the 12th century. When Godfrey III of Leuven was besieging Sint-Truiden in 1189, the people of Truien offered him a vlaai baked according to an old local recipe. According to a mention by Abbot Nicolaas in the chronicle of the Abbey of Sint-Truiden, the duke then called off the siege.
The Limburg fascination with sweet pastries stems from the farms combined with the fruit region and the hospitality. Jacobus Craandijk described it as follows in his Wandelingen door Nederland met pen en pencil in 1878: The actual harvest festival takes place a little later on one of the following Sundays. Then, on the large table, the new white bread is prepared and the cake of wheat flour with fruit purée, which is a Limburg peculiarity and is called vlaai.
In February 2022, both Belgium and the Netherlands published applications in the Belgian Official Gazette and the Dutch Official Gazette respectively for recognition and protection at European level of the Limburgse vlaai as a regional product. If recognised, the vlaai will be subject to strict quality requirements and may carry the label of ‘protected geographical indication’. The application describes exactly what a Limburgse vlaai must meet: it must be baked on Limburg soil, including the filling. The application is more than a formality, because after the recognition, only vlaais that meet the strict conditions will be allowed to carry the designation. From then on, this is also legally enforceable.