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The $25,000 Apple Pie

apple pie
The most expensive pie on earth

It was spring 2002 when I developed this recipe. I had been accepted into classes at the Culinary Institute of America with a January 2003 start date. The CIA was accepting recipes for their All-American Apple Pie Scholarship and after much pushing and prodding by my admissions rep (thanks, Rachel B.) I entered.

At the time I was still doing PR and Marketing work for the Stilton Cheese Makers' Association and had little time to mess around with pies but fortunately, I made some. Occasionally providence looks kindly upon the feeble. The pie won the top spot and I the $25,000 top prize scholarship to the CIA. Thus the name of the recipe. Enjoy! Technically the recipe now belongs to the Culinary Institute of America because of the prize money. For $25,000 a recipe they can take some of my others as well!



  • 6 large apples, Braeburn

  • 5 Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup flour, reserved

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 Master Pie Crust Recipe

  • 1/4 cup half and half


  1. Preheat oven to 450˚ Fahrenheit.

  2. Juice lemon into large bowl, zest one-half and reserve.

  3. Add 1/4 cup of flour to a small bowl. Pit and chop dates into 1/4 inch pieces and toss to coat with flour. Sift to remove excess flour.

  4. Chop walnuts and add to dates.

  5. Core and peel apples. Quarter and cut into 1/4 inch slices starting at stem end working toward blossom end. As apples are sliced add them into the lemon juice and toss to coat.

  6. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and lemon zest together. Sprinkle half over apples and mix well, add balance and mix again. Refrigerate until crust is rolled and placed in pie pan.

  7. Place apple mixture in prepared crust and cover with second crust. Cut vents to allow steam to escape. Optionally, cut apple leaf shapes from crust trimmings and add to top securing with daub of water. Brush top of pie with half and half, sprinkle with very light dusting of sugar.

  8. Bake at 450˚ for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350˚ and finish for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly. If crust starts to brown too soon cover loosely with aluminum foil and remove for last 8 to 10 minutes of baking.

Master Pie Crust


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, chilled

  • 9 tablespoons butter, chilled

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • ½ cup ice water


  1. Cube butter into 1/4 or 3/8 inch pieces. Place in small bowl and refrigerate.

  2. Measure one 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening and refrigerate.

  3. Mix salt in ice water and keep chilled in refrigerator.

  4. In a food processor combine flour and sugar. Pulse two or three times to mix well.

  5. Add butter to processor and pulse several times. Add shortening and pulse until the mixture looks coarse and pale yellow.

  6. Place mixture into a large bowl and add three tablespoons of ice water. Knead the dough and water mixture until a loose ball forms. Add water one tablespoon at a time until mixture comes together. Be careful not to over knead as this will make a less flaky crust.

  7. Form pastry into a ball with your hands and divide into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Press into small disks on a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  8. Roll disks out on floured wax paper until the pastry is about 12 inches round and about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to pie pan. Fill with fruit and add top crust. Cut vents to allow steam to escape.


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