Summer is just around the corner: You need a pie manual. Paula Haney’s 2013 Hoosier Mama Book of Pie is my absolute favorite.

Before applying her training to the world of pie and opening two shops, Haney worked for some of Chicago’s best chefs, including Grant Achatz and Shawn McClain. Thanks to her conversational tone (“Making pie is a pain in the ass”) and endless supply of tips (crust dust, a mixture of flour and sugar you sprinkle on a bottom crust, can prevent sogginess), you reap the benefits of experience from working in a professional pastry kitchen without the long hours and small pay.

With 125 recipes, this cookbook has something to offer every level of pie baker. For the novice, there’s traditional apple pie, fluffy lemon meringue pie, and a step-by-step guide to an all-butter crust, complete with photos. For more seasoned bakers, there’s blackberry passion fruit meringue pie and persimmon, two pies sure to please. And if you’re looking for a show-stopper, there are Haney’s “Over the Top” recipes, including Fat Elvis pie, with chocolate pastry cream, bananas, and peanut butter filling in a graham cracker, peanut, and pretzel crumb crust.

Haney’s passion for pie shines when she tells the stories behind her recipes, like Indiana’s state pie, the Hoosier sugar cream (busy pioneer farm wives used their fingers to stir the filling directly in the crust). The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie is as enjoyable to read as it is to prop open and bake from.

Get it: The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company, by Paula Haney; published August 2013 by Agate Midway

Apple pie photo from Hoosier Mama Pie Company / Facebook

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master’s in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.
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