Forget the old platitude easy as pie.
“Making good pie dough is hard,” says Haney. She should know. Former head pastry chef at such well respected Chicago restaurants as OneSixtyBlue and Trio before opening the Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago, Haney and her staff have made—from scratch—more than 100,000 pies in the last five years. She even took a summer off between jobs one time to do nothing but perfect her pie crust.
And so when Haney agreed to write her recently released "The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company" with Allison Scott (Agate $29.95) she turned to one of her favorite cookbooks, the classic 1948 "Betty Crocker's Cookbook."
“My mom and I used to use their dough pie recipe when making pies,” says Haney, who grew up in Indianapolis. “I didn’t want to write just a pretty cookbook, I wanted one that was instructional like the Betty Crocker book.”
Haney started Hoosier Mama after not being able to get her pie needs met.
“I was working six days a week and what I wanted was a piece of pie on my day off,” she says. “And I couldn’t find one.”
Asked if she is surprised by the success of her company – named one of the “Top Ten Best Places for Pie” by Bon Appétit magazine, Haney laughs and says yes before noting that she thinks we all have this yearning for a good piece of pie.
But good pies were hard to come by. In her informative book, Haney notes in 1909, Chicago’s 200,000 residents consumed 70,000 pies a day and each of the city’s six or so pie companies had horse drawn pie wagons delivering the crust-filled desserts.
Known as the King of Dogs, Doug Sohn was also inspired by the past. For him it was such hot dog places as Stash’s he’d go to when growing up. And so when he opened Hot Doug's: The Encased Meats Emporium and Sausage Superstore, his now famous hot dog eatery which is on Anthony Bourdain's list of the 13 places to eat before you die, he wanted to recreate the taste and feel of the classic hot dog joints.
Sohn, a former book editor, didn’t plan on making his enjoyment of hot dogs a career but what started off as a hobby with friends to visit and rate Chicago hot dog places soon morphed into a calling. People wait in lines, sometimes for up to two hours to get a taste of his dogs.
A witty raconteur who loves schmoozing with his customers, Sohn finally gave in to requests to write about his creation. The result is "Hot Doug’s: The Book" (Agate $24.95) with Kate DeVito.
“My philosophy,” he says, “is to do one thing but do it very well. When you walk into a restaurant and see 75 things on their menu you know they can’t be doing all of them well. We do hot dogs and that’s all.”
Haney and Sohn will do book signings at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln, Chicago. Cost to attend is free. Books will be available for purchase. For more information, call (773) 293.2665
The following recipe is from "The Hoosier Mama Cookbook."
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 9-inch partially baked pie shell
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pinch kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
DIRECTIONS: Combine sugars, flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk or your hands to break up any clumps and combine ingredients.
Gently stir in the heavy cream with a wooden spoon or spatula. Do not overmix. Whipping the cream will prevent the pie from setting. Stir in the vanilla paste or extract and mix to combine.
Pour filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Bake pie for 20 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until large bubbles cover the surface. Pie will not appear to be set when it comes out of the oven.
Let pie cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight before slicing. Dust with sifted powdered sugar before serving. Pie may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.