'Hoosier Mama' serving up delicious pies

May 8, 2009 Food reporter Steve Dolinsky says a new pie shop in the city is baking up memories by the forkful.

The Hoosier Mama Pie Company has been around for a while, but only through farmer's markets, cafes and on the occasional dessert list at local restaurants.

But just a few months ago, the owners finally moved into a full-time space where they now share their love of butter, flour and sugar with anyone who's interested in a sweet taste of nostalgia.

There is a certain respect for the repetition. The rolling, the filling, and the whipping and topping. For the last few years, Paula Haney has been content to sell her pies at farmer's markets and coffee shops, but now that she has her own bricks-and-mortar store in Ukrainian Village. The Hoosier Mama Pie Company can grow into its permanent home and get ready for the fruits of spring and summer.

"I just love the seasonal pies the most. We're really excited about spring and all the new fruit coming on. Summer is the best time with berries and rhubarb and peaches," Haney said.

This time of year, it's mostly about rhubarb. However, there are also ample selections to either take out, or just enjoy in the comically small cafe. Tart lemon chess, creamy coconut custard, even rustic apple, all make frequent appearances.

But Haney acknowledges customers would most likely revolt, if she ever got rid of her lemon meringue or banana cream, two pies that seem to induce deep childhood memories.

"I think people remember their grandmothers and their mothers making pies for them, and you have that nice nostalgic feeling. They remember their childhood," said Haney.

A former four-star pastry chef, Haney now spends her days rolling out her homemade dough, supervising her staff, and personally supervising the baking of dozens of pies both large and small everyday. It's been years since she worked in a high-pressure, high-end restaurant kitchen, and that seems to be just fine with her, especially in an economic environment that rewards comfort over complexity.

"It's just the world's most unpretentious food. I mean, it's easy to love a slice of pie," she said.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company
1618 1/2 Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-4846

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