When it came time to make Thanksgiving dinner, Shelley Keetch always knew her assignment included baking pies — about 20 of them.
“I made a lot of pies,” she said.
Keetch would double or triple her shortening recipe, but the results weren’t always the same. One batch would be beautiful, she says, and the next would turn out badly. Why the inconsistency?
“I held my mouth wrong,” Keetch said in jest, adding, “I have no idea why.”
Keetch has since found a solution — a pie dough recipe she figures is about 50 years old. Made with four ingredients — flour, lard, salt and water — the old-fashioned dough is tender and flaky, she said.
“This pie crust is absolutely wonderful,” Keetch said.
With the help of her daughters, Keetch mass-produces the pie dough in a shop in Grace, Idaho. She sells frozen loaves of the dough in Idaho and Utah, at locations including Anderson’s Seed and Garden in Logan.
They make the dough from the end of September through Thanksgiving, and some other times throughout the year, Keetch said. If she can use three to four 50-pound cases of lard in one day, “it’s a good day,” she said.
“Pie crust is a lost art,” Keetch says, and she is working to keep the recipe she uses alive. She says the recipe was created decades ago by a couple in Idaho.
“They made it in a box car, a railroad box car,” she said.
To continue the tradition of the old-fashioned dough, Keetch said, the recipe was later purchased by the owners of London Drug in Grace. Then, in 2003, Keetch bought the product. She hasn’t changed anything about the recipe and she says she never will: “How he did it is still the way I make it.”
In addition to making and selling dough, Keetch makes pies for other events, such as fairs. Cream pies are her top sellers.
“Then boysenberry and pecan are usually neck and neck,” Keetch said.
Her favorite is pumpkin.
Locally, Tawny Lowther makes pies from scratch for Angie’s Restaurant. For the crust, Lowther uses flour, shortening, salt and water.
“It’s really simple,” she said.
Lowther, who has been a baker at Angie’s for about four years, said the crust falls on the savory side.
Pies have an element of tradition and comfort, she said, and people should treat themselves to a slice.
“I think it’s just like one of those things in life that you need to really enjoy,” Lowther said.
Lowther says she grew up baking with her mom, and making pies reminds her of being with family.
“My favorite part of pie is the smell ... it reminds me of, like, home,” she said.
Lowther makes about six pies a day, and she says the desserts are usually gone by the next day. Right now, she said, the most popular pie flavor is chocolate.
In addition to pies, Lowther also bakes cheesecake, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls and brownies for Angie’s Restaurant.
Tips for making pie
• Lowther says making pie takes practice, patience and good weather: “The weather makes a big difference when you’re baking.”
• Have no fear: “People need to not be afraid of it — making pies or pot pies. I took the hard out of it for you,” Keetch says of her frozen dough.
• After rolling the dough for pie crust, Keetch suggests lightly dusting each side with flour and then poking holes in the dough. The flour prevents the crust from getting soggy.
• To prevent the dough from falling, Keetch rolls up a strip of tinfoil, cuts slits into the foil and places it inside the crust while it bakes. “Wrap it around the side of the pie tin and you have got a beautiful crust,” she said.
“It’s what Grandma made.”
Keetch says her old-fashioned dough tastes like something your grandma cooks. The dough can be used for dessert pies or pot pies.
“It’s really versatile,” Keetch says.
She also likes to make pie crust cookies with the dough. After placing the dough on a cookie sheet for baking, Keetch sprinkles it with cinnamon sugar, made with a two to one ratio — two cups sugar, one cup cinnamon or two tablespoons to one.
The packaged dough Keetch sells has enough to make two 9-inch single crust pies or one 9-inch double crust.
Pie flavors at Angie’s Restaurant
• Banana cream
• Cherry amaretto cream
• Chocolate cream
• Chocolate peanut butter
• Coconut cream
• Pumpkin and pecan (these two are sold seasonally)