foolproof pie crust

Before I talk about that lovely looking pie crust above, I wanted to share some information from my morning drive. I popped into the city for brunch with a dear friend, and spent the morning commute listening to Brian Lehrer. The open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Healthcare Act begins this Sunday, November 15th. I realize there are a lot of people who have had nightmare experiences with coverage since its enactment but when you hear the numbers of how many formerly uninsured people now have coverage, it’s clear that this was a step in the right direction. Nothing is perfect, and healthcare costs in our country still need much improvement.

The boggling aspect is the fact that each state can implement it as they see fit. Some have signed onto the federal program, and others opted to create their own state-managed ones. If you’re in New York state, and need help navigating the process, or are having issues with the insurance you already signed up for through the health exchange, it may worth giving the Community Service Society a call. I had no idea this existed, and am bookmarking their number for the future. I thought it was worth sharing that information. Even if you’re not in New York, perhaps your state has a similar organization that can help.

Okay, now onto something I think we can all agree about—pie! More specifically, pie crust. How many tears have you shed trying to create your own masterpiece? How many hours have you spent trying to make the perfect pie crust, only to be let down, yet again by a recipe that didn’t deliver? I feel your pain. It took years for me to settle on one that works perfectly—every.single.time.

The best part? You don’t need to chill the crust. Yes, you read that correctly. Finally a pie crust you can make, then roll and bake, in one felt swoop. The recipe is from my cookbook, Homemade with Love, so it may seem familiar to some of you. With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, my guess is this recipe will become your BFF.

Stay tuned for this pumpkin pie coming up next week. Until then, have a wonderful weekend. And don’t forget to be gentle with yourself these last six weeks of 2014. The holidays are a mixed bag of happiness and heartache. I think it’s human nature to dwell on what you wish things could be, instead of seeing the goodness in what’s right in front of us. I know quite well that managing it all can feel like a full-time job. Much love and hugs for staying by my side these last few years.

xo—Jennie

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More from In Jennie’s Kitchen:

Simple Scratch Cooking: a homecook’s journal for making easy, everyday meals

Fall 2014 – digital edition

Winter 2014 – available for preorder

Foolproof Pie Crust

Recipe from Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts or 10 hand pies

How many times have you tried a piecrust recipe claiming to be the best, only to find yourself reduced to tears? Yeah, me too. The inspiration for this crust came from Mollie Cox Bryan, and her recipe for a vinegar piecrust in Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pie. Vinegar has long been a secret shared for pie crust making, but it often gets paired with shortening. I’m not a fan of processed foods, so even organic shortening doesn’t appeal to me. I set out to have the best of both worlds—a buttery crust, with a tender crumb, that was a cinch to roll out. Now that I think about it, maybe we should call this the best piecrust ever.

Music Pairing: Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch by The Temptations

1/3 cup (50 grams) yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out

1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt

1 teaspoon (6 grams) natural cane sugar

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks – 168 grams) very cold butter, cut into 12 pieces

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons ice cold water

Add the flours, salt and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to mix well. Add the butter and pulse a few more times, until it forms a sandy-looking mixture, about 4 to 5 one-second pulses. Add the egg, vinegar and water. Pulse until it forms a solid ball of dough, about 8 to 10 one-second pulses.

Dump the ball of dough out onto a well-floured counter or smooth surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrapping one of them if you’re only make a single-crust pie (see sidebar). Roll one disc of dough out into a circle large enough to fit your pie plate. Proceed with the directions for whichever pie recipe you are using.

Freeze it! If you’re only making one pie, wrap the remaining disc of dough tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, then store it in the freezer in a zip top bag. One day before you plan to use it, transfer the wrapped dough to the fridge and let it thaw overnight. Use as directed in the selected recipe.

30 Comments

  • Megan

    For most people, the ACA is a disaster no matter which State you live in. Deductibles are unaffordable, and more restrictions are coming in 2015. Many Hospitals will not accept any ACA plan -so people go to an ER when sick. Many new medications will no longer be covered & testing will be cut back due to rising costs.
    Many States do have a help line, but the limitations of the plans vs the costs cause many to remain uninsured. Most of these people were covered by insurance before the ACA was passed.
    People who get a subsidy must be very careful, as their deductibles & co pays may be much higher & SCOTUS may eliminate subsidies for everyone.
    I volunteer at a NY/NJ help line & many people are stuck. The plans are either too expensive or too restrictive. As more & more Hospitals and Doctors opt out -it’s a scary situation for them to be in. Also, many Hospitals & Doctors do not have to let you know until 2015 if they will accept your particular plan. I know a lot of people blindsided this year (2013/14) as they found themselves without a Hospital near them or Doctors willing to take their plans.

    As more people are placed on Medicaid, the wait times for treatment only get longer & the Doctors more scarce.
    I don’t call this situation a step in the right direction.

  • Liz

    The pie crust IS beautiful!

    But, I do have to agree with Megan’s conclusion re ACA being a disaster and NOT a step in the right direction. The statistics are misleading. I have little doubt that I have been included in a person who “now” has insurance – every communication has been “Welcome”. But I have had insurance (paid for by ME) for my nearly 30 years as a self employed person! I am being “welcomed” in error and it is annoying. Additionally, I am one who is paying more and getting less unless, of course, you count that as a 59 year old single, childless female, I now have access to birth control and also dental for my non-existent children but no dental for me.

    I consider ACA an insult as it assumes that I cannot decide what kind of coverage I want and “provides” the coverage deemed necessary as if I cannot read and decide on a policy.

    Maybe some have subsidized coverage that did not have it prior, but I am not happy at being the subsidizer having paid through the years for both health and disability since I am self-employed.

    I do NOT believe the statistics – knowing my own situation – and I do NOT believe the current law is a step forward except that maybe it makes so many so angry that ultimately there might be some improvement.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    I knew making any mention of the ACA would be a lighting rod issue, but this being my virtual home, I also want to be free to discuss the issues important to me and my family (probably not the best for universal appeal, but I’ve never written this blog for that reason). What I can say is that regarding my experience, it has been a blessing. My husband’s Cobra plan was about to run out, and our $1500 premium went to less than $850 a month using a company called Health Republic. So far, all of our doctors are on the plan, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays the same. Before the ACA this insurance plan wasn’t an option (and I chose not accept the subsidy).

    I will concede that it was not a seamless change for us, either. I waited months for the dust to clear because it was initial insanity, and the website kept crashing. Yes, it is not a perfect system, but at least it is a step in trying to make a change towards something more affordable for everyone. My hope is that it will get better with time.

  • Claudia

    The ACA is not perfect, and needs to be changed/revised as problems come to light….BUT, it is a step in the right direction. If you are someone who has never been able to afford healthcare for yourself or your family, been denied coverage because of a preexisting condition or have maxed out your lifetime benefits already due to chronic illness, then it is a lifesaver.

  • Kenda

    I’m still amazed that people still believe the ACA is an insurance plan when in fact it is insurance regulation that actually gives people more protection. No it’s not perfect or even close and if politicians worked together to make it better instead of working against it imagine how good it could be. It has helped members of my family and for that I’m grateful. I guess some people forget that insurance rates have been skyrocketing. The ACA has not excelerared that. We need single payer Medicare for all

  • Beth G from South Jersey

    Love, love, love this piecrust! The first time I made it I tweeted you not only how easy it was, but how delicious it was! My husband said it was the best pie crust ever – this comes after many years of trying to perfect it and giving up…until your cookbook!!! Thanks, girlfriend!!!

  • Rosemary

    While I have to agree that the ACA has not been a good experience for me and I dread having to start the process again tomorrow, I do appreciate the contact info for a navigator. My primary doctor whom I love, only accepts 3 insurance co’s all of which are really expensive. I was under the impression that the ACA would really help freelance individuals like me, but it has only increased my costs. I could get something lower with high deductibles but then would have to find all new doctors. I am a healthy person but should I contract an illness I would like my current GP to treat me. Also, I found out from a relative who works for an insurance co, that NY is one of the worst states for individuals because the insurance companies feel they don’t make any money off of us + they ask for exorbitant increases which NY state doesn’t always grant so a lot of companies are either pulling out or reconsidering if they want to cover us. I am glad you had a positive experience and I do believe others have as well but I am not one of them although I was a supporter. I think the program could have been better if Obama didn’t compromise so much and if the Republicans didn’t allow businesses to control our government and citizens.

  • Mom24_4evermom

    I think it’s awesome that you posted this. People need to know about the coverage available and, for whatever reason, that word is not getting to the people who need to hear it the most. Kuddos to you for trying to help. You could honestly change someone’s life if they’re able to obtain coverage they did not know existed as an option.

  • Fran@fransfavs.com

    The ACA was a blessing to my family as well as we were able to save almost $9,000 cold hard cash each year for the last three years by our three children under age 26 being able to stay on our family plan. There are both positive and negative stories out there re the ACA, and I firmly believe that we need a single-payer system (Medicare for all). The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t have it. That was the aim of the ACA originally but it was met with such opposition that progressives had to settle for what they could get. The aim of the opposition was to sabotage the plan, and they succeeded to a certain degree. Single-payer was and is the way to go. Kudos for bringing up the discussion. The pie crust looks fabulous. The corn meal seems to be an unusual ingredient, and I’m wondering if you can detect it in the texture?

  • Barbara

    You’re fortunate to live in NY and have people who help you navigate the ACA choices. For those who live in states like Missouri and Florida, like my family, it is another story. In Missouri it is actually against the law for someone to help you sign up. That’s what this country has become. Everybody for themselves. I hope the program continues but gets better. Luckily for me, my rates are not going up next year, but they are already so high I would have to cancel if they did go up. Thanks for the pie recipe. I will try it!

  • Susan P

    This not so perfect system of the ACA is a disaster. To insure 8 million people they have destroyed the insurance of over 89 million. People are not signing up because it’s unaffordable. You tell me how I have benefitted when my deductible has risen to $6000 from $1500, and my family coverage has gone from $650 a month to $895 a month. And don’t tell me that there are other plans out there I can get. Believe me I have tried. I can no longer see the physician (family practice) that I have been seeing for 12 years. The recent videos where Jonathan Gruber states that the bill had to be passed without transparency because it wouldn’t be passed otherwise and they did it because the American people are too stupid to understand is another reason it has to go. Have you watched the video. Please google it, because I assure you that if you are only listening to Brian Lehrer and the mainstream media you will hear nothing about it. I’m so outraged by it all……I could scream!!!!

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Hi Fran,

    Thanks for your input, and I agree about the single-payer system. We’re so divided as a country, that I wonder if we can ever really get there. Re: the cornmeal, it is detectable, but in a really good way. It adds a surprising;y lovely texture.

    Jennie

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Yes, on all those points Rosemary. I fear no real change will happen now with the midterm election results. It was a friend’s insurance broker who recommended Health Republic to me. You should check them out. Of all the plans I researched, they were the most affordable, and had all of our doctors were on the plan. That brings up another issue of doctors limiting what they accept, and they are usually the only upper tier, uber expensive plans.
    -JP

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Yes, to everything you said Kendra! Risnig insurance rates need to addressed as well. My insurance used to regularly increase 20% TWICE a year. That leads to a bigger discussion on campaign financing, and the dangers of it letting big business control legislation.
    -JP

  • GERI

    Jennie, I enjoy your blog alot. But I really think you are out of line about Obamacare… Many people who HAD insurance were cancelled and now pay enormous premiums and deductibles which have gone up more this year… The whole bill is a lie… ” you can keep your doctor”, “You can keep your hospital” . Have you heard about an MIT professor by the name of Grubber? He was one of the architects of this horrible bill. If you listen to the main stream media, you will not have heard his despicable comments. The only solution is repeal/replace. You ought to limit your comment to food and cooking… People don’t come to your blog for political commentary….

  • geri

    I see that because I expressed my opinion about your comments regarding Obamacare,my comments were deleted. Yes you do need to limit your comments to food, your area of expertise… Not politics….

  • Fran@fransfavs.com

    It’s nice to see rational discussion on this very important issue. If only our legislators could do the same! I did want to add that I find it morally repugnant that insurance companies should profit off of people’s suffering and ill health. Their business model is such that their profits are based on denying people care. The insurance companies are the ones–not the government–that have been and are continuing to pull the plug on granny or perhaps your child because it’s not profitable to allow people the critical care they need to survive. We need a single-payer system–Medicare for all.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Geri,

    Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I have a life outside of my blog? My comments are moderated, and unless you’ve commented previously, and have been approved once as a user, my web host holds them for approval. I’ve been out all day volunteering at my daughters’ school (not that I think I need to provide an explanation). As for your comment that I should limit my posts to food and cooking, and that this is not a political blog, as I said in one of my comments, this is my virtual home. I write it for MY benefit, a therapeutic outlet, and am eternally thankful that others have found it a place to enjoy.

    I expect people who visit here to be respectful. Your comments are now published for everyone to see, even though you didn’t find respect to be something of value. I often talk about walking gently in the lives of others, but obviously that message has not been one you’ve taken away, so perhaps another food blog can fit your needs. There are plenty out there from which you can choose. My home here is open to people who can show care, consideration, and respect for everyone inhabiting this space.

    Regards,
    Jennie

  • Kelly Collins

    Dear Jennie.
    Like great loss, rebuilding your life, your darling kids and fab recipes, healthcare is an integral part of life in America! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful, well intended views. What an angry divided group we can be at times. Geesh.
    Love your blog.
    An ER nurse from Philly

  • Michelle

    You do have a life outside of the blog. Good for you trying to help people. Single payer would have saved everyone. As long as we send the same people back to D.C. we will have gridlock.

    Your recipes are wonderful and so are you!

  • nathalie

    I am going to try this pie crust. Pie crust is the bane of my existence and I work at the Culinary Institute of America, for heaven’s sake. You’d think someone here could help a girl out.

    And on the other note … you just keeping being you. Last time I checked it was still a free country and that grants you the right to say what you think EVEN if not everyone agrees with you.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Nathalie,

    You’re not far from me if you’re in Hyde Park. I think we need to bake a pie together!

    -Jennie

  • Sarah

    I’ve never made a pie crust with cornmeal. Will definitely have to try that.

    I think it’s great that you have the courage to speak about what you feel and believe. In this post and in others I’ve read. I also think its great that you have the courage to defend yourself in your virtual home. Sorry that you’ve had to deal with some harsh and unfriendly comments.

  • Fran@fransfavs.com

    I just want to clarify that those unfriendly comments appeared AFTER I said how nice it was to have a rational discussion about the ACA. I would never have classified the comments which appeared immediately before mine as “rational.” Jennie, keep on keepin’ on–we love you just as you are, and your recipes and narratives are extraordinary.

  • Wendy

    Jennie,
    Thank you for putting yourself out there on this post to provide help to people even though you knew some would disagree. For my family, the state exchange has been a life saver. We wouldn’t have insurance without it. Do I like the website? Not really. Do I like the cost? No. But I am very thankful we are covered.

    In my opinion, and it’s just that- my opinion, the government needs to limit the profit levels of health insurance companies and the pay to the C suites. Then limit pharmaceutical profit and hospital profits and then we’ll be getting somewhere. Can’t stop rising costs if these organizations aren’t regulated.

    Anyways, thanks again for putting yourself out there. I think you will find more of your readers will be genuinely thankful (or just neural) than pissy about it.

  • Deena Brazy

    I like this pie crust’s taste and texture a lot, but am using a recipe for the filling that requires me to prebake for 20 minutes. When I take it out of the oven, the crust has lost its shape and has slipped down the sides of the pie pan. Any thoughts?

    Thanks

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Hi Deena,

    My advice would be to cover the top of the pie with a sheet of parchment, and rest another pie plate of equal size on top of it, to keep the crust intact next time.

    Jennie