Joe’s Book Club: The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

I haven’t written a book review in a while since writing book reviews takes time and effort and I’m lazy. However occasionally a book comes along that’s too good not to talk about and this is one of them: The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie by Paula Haney. Paula Haney, as the book title implies, owns the Hoosier Mama Baking Company which is not in Indiana as you might presume, but in Chicago. It’s a tiny little place. So tiny in fact that it would almost be more at home in New York where no one has any space, especially people who run kitchens.

What makes Hoosier Mama such an impressive bakery is that they do little that is fancy and everything that is basic, wholesome and delicious. I mean let’s face it, how many pieces of pumpkin-espresso-mascarpone pie can the average person eat? By the same token I have yet to discover a personal limit for slices of strawberry rhubarb pie, which is I think the key to Hoosier Mama’s appeal, for me and many others.

I like the book for the same reasons I like the shop. It’s not encyclopedic, but rather it contains simple and clear instructions for most every every type of pie I’ve ever wanted to make, from cherry, apple and rhubarb to chocolate, key lime, banana cream, mincemeat and chicken pot pie on the savory side. That said there are a few creative curveballs thrown in such as corn custard pie with tomato jam and something called “Fat Elvis Pie” which, let’s face it, will be impossible not to try.

On the technical side the book has comprehensive instructions and a trouble-shooting guide for creating Hoosier Mama’s trademark ultra-flaky crust plus several others. Me, I’m still trying to perfect the crusts I already make — as much as I respect all of Chef Haney’s work — but that won’t stop me from using her filling recipes as often as I possibly can. Orange cream pie is little Joan’s favorite pie ever. Up until now I’ve never had a recipe, so I know what I’m doing this weekend.

I love it when a bakery or restaurant owner shows the confidence to publish the user’s manual for pretty much everything the business does. Clearly the vast majority of Hoosier Mama’s customers won’t let a little thing like a book get between them and a fresh persimmon pie on the way home from work in the evening. As for me, however, a former Chicago boy who only gets Hoosier Mama pies once in a blue moon, I can tell you that this book is going to get dog-eared mighty fast.

This is a book every pie lover should own.

9 thoughts on “Joe’s Book Club: The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie”

  1. What is the pie on the cover? It looks like it ought to be butterscotch meringue pie. I have never heard of such a pie existing but now I am convinced that I must have a slice right this very second.

    1. That’s great idea, Alex! I just paged through the book and I only found two meringue pie recipes: lemon and passion fruit. Butterscotch sounds better to me right this second. Maybe peanut butter? Or is that grotesque?

      – Joe

      1. I make a butterscotch peanut pie that always gets good reviews. Its pretty simple in that it just adds salted peanuts to a butterscotch meringue pie. The salty nuts make a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness. Never tried it but I bet a layer of peanut butter between filling & topping would substitute.

  2. I staged at Hoosier Mama about a year and a half ago. You’re right, it’s definitely tiny. 🙂

    Chef Haney is an absolutely amazing talent. They are easily the best pies I’ve ever had.

    1. Hey Brad!

      And a sweetheart as well! I’m always interested to see what happens when someone of her technical ability (of course she was once Pastry Chef at Trio) takes on something as basic as pies. Will they go nuts with the flourishes? To me she strikes exactly the right balance. People don’t want complicated when it comes to pie…at least not most of the time. Her success is very well deserved!

      – Joe

    1. Nice of you to drop by and clear that up, Paula! You’re written a heck of a good book here. I wish you all the attention and success such a fine effort deserves!

      – Joe

    2. I am going to buy this book based on Joe’s review. The woman stupid enough to marry me gives me a lot of grief that she can make the best crust without even trying while mine are well suited for pasties or saddlebags. If he says you have advice for getting it right it is worth a shot!

      If you really have provided working recipes I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I inherited my moms collects & and added my own to number over 300 cookbooks and too many of them have recipes that do not produce the intended results. People who care about the craft and provide functioning recipes should be rewarded with great sales. THANKS!

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