Food & Drink

Richmond’s Pie Prodigy

How Kate Aliberti weaves dreamy latticework for her home-baked pies—like this stunning apple pie with sorghum and cinnamon

Photo: Fred Turko

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, avid home baker Kate Aliberti was part of a ‘pie family.’ When other families had cookies or cake, hers made pie. “We even had birthday pies,” Aliberti says. “It’s just the way our family has been as far back as I can remember. All the women in the family are pie makers. It’s an in-born skill.”

Aliberti, who recently found her calling in the world of food and textile styling, remembers how her family would come together every year at Virginia’s Sandbridge Beach for Labor Day. Her great aunt Peggy Blassingham, now 96 years old, would treat them all to her legendary peach pie with vanilla ice cream. “It was a huge pie in one of those Corningware casserole dishes, easily the size of three regular pies,” she recalls.

Nowadays, weaving dizzyingly intricate lattice-crust pies is Aliberti’s love language. “If anyone within a fifty-mile radius has any kind of life event that calls for a gift of food,” she says, “I will be there with a pie in my hand on their doorstep the next day.”

photo: Fred Turko

For her own crusts, Aliberti eschews the all-butter crust of her youth in favor of a recipe from cookbook author and Food Network personality Ina Garten, which combines butter and shortening for optimum flavor and pliability. In a pinch, she’ll grab a premade Pillsbury crust, which she says also works beautifully. Creating her meticulous designs, she says, is about thinking of pie dough like fabric—something to be transformed. “Pie crust has a mind of its own,” Aliberti says, “so you have to listen to the dough.”

Make the dough at least a day in advance, and keep it wrapped and chilled so it doesn’t lose moisture and remains easy to manipulate when rolled and woven. When you’re ready to roll and weave, use a chilled baking sheet to help keep the dough cool as you work. “It’s easier to weave when it’s almost frozen,” Aliberti says. Her ultimate tip: “I assemble my lattice on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet, freeze it, and then put it on the pie to bake so the pattern stays well-defined.”

When it comes to the fillings, Aliberti rarely uses a recipe. “I change it up depending on who the pie is for,” she says, but notes that her classic apple pie, with sorghum and cinnamon is a hit with nearly any audience. Get the recipe below, and to see more of her elaborately woven pie crusts, check out her Instagram account.


  • Lattice Crust Apple Pie with Sorghum and Cinnamon

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie

    • 3 prepared pie crusts

    • About 2 1⁄2 pounds apples (use a tart, firm variety such as Granny Smith)

    • ¼ tsp. salt

    • 2 tsp. cinnamon

    • 1⁄2 tsp. cardamom

    • ¼ cup sorghum

    • 3 tbsp. brown sugar

    • 2 tsp. cornstarch

  • For egg wash:

    • 1 whole egg

    • 1 tbsp. water

    • 1 tbsp. whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. For an intricate lattice weave top, roll out two pie crusts to 12-inch circles, approximately ¼-inch thick, and place on parchment paper. One will supply strips for the vertical weave; one for the horizontal. Using a ruler and pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut strips of dough 3/8- to ¾-inch thick on each circle (thinner strips make a tighter weave). Chill dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes, or until firmed up.

  3. Remove dough from the refrigerator and weave the two crusts together: Evenly space out the vertical strips, depending on the desired look, on a sheet of parchment paper placed on a chilled baking sheet. Then fold every other strip in half-back over itself. Weave horizontal strips over and under each vertical strip, starting with the longest strip in the center, rolling the vertical strips back over each horizontal row as you progress. Turn the crust around and repeat to complete the other half, putting woven dough and strips in and out of the fridge as needed to maintain a chilled temperature. When the weave is finished, place in the freezer.

  4. Peel and core apples. Thinly slice apples about 1/8-inch thick. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add everything but cornstarch and mix to combine. Add cornstarch after everything has been mixed and toss to combine. Set aside.

  5. Make egg wash by combining egg, water, and milk in small bowl. Whisk until well incorporated, and set aside.

  6. Roll out the remaining pie crust and place into the bottom of the pie dish. Scoop apples into the pie dish, lightly pressing them to flatten as you go along.

  7. Remove frozen lattice top from freezer and slide off parchment over top of apples in pie dish. (The top will begin to melt and dome over the apples.) When the top lattice dough touches the bottom dough in the pie dish, cut the top dough to fit and press top and bottom crusts together. Trim crusts, and paint with egg wash.

  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top crust has set, then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake until pie is golden brown and bubbly, about 30-40 more minutes.

  9. Best served warm with ice cream, or cold with plain Greek yogurt for breakfast.