The $25,000 Apple Pie

An Amazing Journey with an Apple Pie

Winning entry in the Culinary Institute of America's contest

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 screw around with pies but fortunately, I made some. Sometimes providence looks kindly upon the feeble. The pie won the top spot and I won a $25,000 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!

This recipe looks more complicated than it is. The pie crust is here.

The $25,000 Apple Pie

15 minutes

1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 pie


  • 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.
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