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.