PHoto: ratko radojcic
The first cookbook from Paula Haney of the popular-as-ever Hoosier Mama Pie Company (1618 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-4846), titled The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie (Agate Midway, $29.95), is now available in bookstores and on Amazon. Dish chatted with Haney and Allison Scott, who spearheaded the savory pie recipes, about calculating pie out to many decimal places.
Dish: Did all of these recipes exist, or were some developed for the book?
Paula Haney: They are the recipes we use in the pie shop. We would write the recipes out and hand them to different bakers in the kitchen and make sure we knew everybody’s tricks and secrets.
D: So everyone on your staff was involved?
PH: Either directly, in testing a recipe, or by holding it together while we ran off and wrote.
D: Writing a cookbook is brutal. Why did you want to undertake this project?
PH: I always wanted to write one. I loved reading them when I was little. I went to journalism school. I thought I would be a writer, but I’m not that good at it. But I always knew how I would do a cookbook.
Allison Scott: We signed the contact in April of last year. I remember because I was on my honeymoon. All of our deadlines were bad. The first draft was due the week after Thanksgiving. The first revision was due the week before Christmas.
PH: I had to leave a family holiday gathering and go to a coffeehouse to work on it.
D: How did you develop your pie crust recipe?
PH: I took a summer off between jobs one time and worked on nothing but this pie crust recipe. I just pulled together all the cookbooks I had. My mother’s Betty Crocker's Cookbook from 1948. Rose Beranbaum’s book [The Pie and Pastry Bible] is amazing. I tried different flours and salts and sugars. I asked friends and neighbors, and they brought me their grandmothers’ recipes. I worked until I found something I liked that was repeatable.
D: Is there anything you won’t put on a pie crust?
PH: I think if you worked at it, you could do anything, but I’m not a huge fan of unusual combinations in a pie. Of course we make sweet corn pie with candied tomatoes.
AS: It seems that every time we thought of something undoable, we figured out how to do it. We’ve even made horchata pie. That’s how I come up with new recipes. I make something at home for dinner and think: How can this be a pie?
D: What’s your favorite pie?
D: Why isn’t your scone recipe in the book?
PH: Because I am trying to get them to give me another book.