Leila's Famous Apple Pie

Source: Leila Kang, Pie Contest Winner

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This pie won second prize in CUESA’s Pie Contest on October 25, 2015.

I call this pie “Leila’s Famous Apple Pie” because apple pie is a favorite among old coworkers, whom I love dearly. In particular, Damian, who I worked with closely, has been extremely willing and helpful to try all my baked goods and to give me feedback. When I sent him this pie, he loved it along with everyone still at the trailer. This pie is dedicated to them.  I love this combination or apples. They all add a slightly sweet but tart flavor that balance each other out.

Pie Crust (makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies)
¼ cup vodka (I use Grey Goose)
¼ cup water
2 ½ cups of AP unbleached flour
1 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 tablespoons  (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
8 tablespoons shortening (I like the butter-flavored kind), chilled

Apple Filling
1 ½ pounds Roxbury or Golden Russet Apples (Ashmead’s Kernel will also work)
1 pound Sierra Beauty apples
1 pound Philo Gold apples
2 medium-sized Honeycrisp apples
½ tsp ground cardamom
⅛ tsp ground clove
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup tapioca starch (sometimes called tapioca flour)
Zest of half a Meyer lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons of Meyer lemon juice

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk


To make the pie crust: Combine ¼ cup vodka and ¼ cup water into the same container and put in the freezer to chill; it should be really cold by the time you add it to the dry ingredients.

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large glass or steel mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the chilled butter and shortening to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until you have variable sizes of butter and shortening. Gradually add the water and vodka mixture to the dry ingredients and slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients until it easily gathers into a large ball of dough.

Divide the dough in half and shape into flat disks. Chill for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. If you’d like to make a lattice crust, you’ll need to make another double crust

To make the apple filling: Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wash thoroughly the apples in cold water and peel the skin off. Slice the large apples into 16 slices and the smaller apples into 8 slices and put in a large glass or steel mixing bowl.

Toss the apple slices with the spices, sugar, salt, tapioca flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Let it macerate for about a half hour, but no more than an hour.

Roll out 1 pie crust disk to fit comfortably in a 9-inch pie plate. Leave about a half-inch overhang or cut to fit the lip of the pie plate. Roll out the second disk and set aside.

Pour the apples along with the liquid into the bottom crust. Using clean hands or a spatula, move and push the apple slices into the bottom so that everything fits and there aren’t any gaps.

Gently place the second crust on top of the apples and cut off the excess dough. If there is an overhang, fold it onto the top crust. Or use a fork to seal the top crust with the bottom on the lip of the pie plate.

In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk. Brush the egg wash onto the top crust, including the edges. Using a paring knife, cut 3 slits to let steam escape when baking.

Place the pie on a sheet pan or other oven-safe vessel to catch any drips.

Bake for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 1 hour. If the crust becomes too brown or is close to burning, tent some foil on top.

When done, let cool for about 1 hour before serving.

Farmers Market Ingredients