Next time you’re guiding a forkful of flaky, buttery pie crust and subtly spiced fresh fruit toward your mouth, you might well have Paula Haney to thank. Her Hoosier Mama pies have made their way to farmers’ markets (like Green City) and coffee shops (like Noble Tree Coffee & Tea, 2444 N Clark St, 773-248-1500) across the city, and soon they’ll be available at her own pie shop, opening in the spring in Ukrainian Village (at 1618½ Chicago Ave). These five varieties made up two-thirds of Hoosier Mama’s sales this year:
1. SEASONAL FRUIT Haney captures the seasons with strawberry-rhubarb pie in early summer, peach-raspberry-pecan crumble at the peak of the hotter months, and pear-apple-cranberry with a walnut crumble as the weather turns brisk.
2. APPLE “You can’t have a pie company without a really great apple pie. Over a third of the pies we make are apple,” Haney explains. Instead of a traditional spice blend, her secret ingredient is Chinese five-spice powder, which contains star anise, cardamom and more traditional cinnamon, which “really bring out the floral and spicier notes of the apples.”
3. PUMPKIN “The key to our pumpkin pie—well, it has some heavy cream, but besides that—is that it has a little bit of black pepper in it, which brings out the flavor of pumpkin,” Haney says. “We get all our spices from the Spice House, so they’re superfresh. And we go through just a ton of vanilla during pumpkin-pie season.”
4. BANANA CREAM Haney piles these high with banana cream, but she sticks with a recipe that makes even more of the rich, speckled cream than each pie calls for, so there’s always a little bit left over for her and her weary pie-makers to spoon up at the end of a long day of baking.
5. CHOCOLATE CHESS “Nobody knows why it’s called ‘chess,’ just like nobody knows why [a person from Indiana is] called a Hoosier,” Haney says. “This is an old, old, old Southern pie recipe that came over from England with the Pilgrims.” The rustic custard made with lots of Venezuelan chocolate “tastes like a brownie in a pie shell.” We need no further explanation for its popularity.