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TIP OF THE DAY: Better Pie Crusts

Sugar cream pie has a filling of sugar, cream
vanilla and nutmeg. Photo courtesy Midway


Making good pie crust requires simple ingredients, but lots of practice. Paula Haney, co-founder with husband Craig of Hoosier Mama Pie Shop in Chicago, discovered that when she was already an acclaimed pastry chef.

During a 10-year career at some of Chicago’s top restaurants (including one of our all-time favorites, the late, lamented Trio in Evanston), Paula created sophisticated desserts for demanding foodies.

But on her days off, she wanted a simple, satisfying piece of pie—the kind her Hoosier aunts learned to bake on the farm. She took a summer off, taught herself how to make great crust (practice! practice! practice!) and ultimately opened the Hoosier Mama Pie Company.

Here are two tips, and you can purchase The Hoosier Mama Book Of Pie for many more.


BONUS: There’s an excellent amount of the book free online, in the “Look Inside” feature on Check out the chapter, “Lessons From The Rolling Table ~ The Making, Rolling And Handling Of Pie Dough.”



Blind baking is the term for prebaking a pie shell prior to adding the filling. The trick is to weigh down the crust to avoid air bubbles from forming.

Nothing works better for blind baking a pie shell than a large coffee filter (basket style) filled with dried beans. The filter fits perfectly into a 9″ pie shell, and the beans can be re-used many times.


Along with starting out with a good hot oven to set the crust, dust the bottom of the crust with a 50/50 mixture of flour and sugar. Paula refers to this as “crust dust,” and uses it with every fruit pie.


Techniques and recipes for baking great pies. Photo courtesy Midway Publishing.



Paula has also assembled a fun collection of pie quotes. Head to the Hoosier Mama Pie website for quotes like these.

He was as normal as pumpkin pie and now look at him.

—Elderly Neighbor in “Breaking Away” by Steve Tesich


Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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