A few weeks ago was another one of those fake holidays that doesn’t really mean anything. Sure, maybe you like to wait in line at IHOP for free food on National Pancake Day, or maybe you enjoy getting excited about National Donut Day only to forget about it when the time comes around. Normally, we let them pass without much fanfare. National Pie Day, however, was different. We were immediately excited as soon as we became aware of this day. Pie is our lifeblood at We Denton Do It. “Where’s the best place to get pie in Denton?” we asked. A couple people said Loco Cafe. Some suggested we go grab us some pie at Ravelin, but there was definitely not a definitive Denton pie place. That may soon change.
Last week we were fortunate enough to get a chance to sample the wares dealt by Keely Gilchriest Briggs, the brains behind the new local pie start-up, Lucky Star Pies. Lucky Star Pies is a home-run pie shop based out of Denton, TX. After we stopped by for the pies, we asked Briggs a couple of questions. Read below to find out about the potential future of Lucky Star Pies, Keely’s grandparents and our thoughts on the pies in question.
What made you want to start a pie business in Denton?
Lucky Star Pies: It's just an idea that got into my head somehow about three years ago - I had the name and everything picked out. The timing has not been right to open a store. I got the feeling that friends and family were getting tired of hearing me talk about this pie business that didn't exist. So, last summer I decided to just see if I could even sell a pie. So far, so good. No pie shop for now, but someday if the business continues to grow. For now I am happy to operate as a cottage business.
What’s your history with pie?
LST: I have always liked baking in general. Baking pie is a heritage thing for me.
As a child I would bake pies with my grandmother on my Mom's side. She was a special lady.
Then a few years ago I was talking with grandmother on my Father's side about my desire to have a pie business - about how "out of nowhere" the idea seemed to be. That grandmother told me that her mother was known as the "pie lady" where she had lived in South Texas. My grandmother then shared my great-grandmother's recipes with me. I focused on the crust recipe and adapted it to suit my family's vegetarian diet. Through trial and error I got to where I had something that was pretty good. From there I just kept baking pies.
I really feel connected to my past and the generations before me by baking pies. That combined with the joy I get out of making pies for people is what motivates me. After all, pie generally makes people feel good.
Do you have any plans for new pies to make in the future?
I have so much fun creating and testing new recipes. Family and friends get to do quite a bit of sampling of these new creations. If they give me the thumbs up, then a new pie is born. I also enjoy being challenged by my customers. Every now and then somebody will have a request that brings out the mad scientist in me. I probably am good for about one new pie creation a month right now.
Are any of your pies vegan or gluten-free?
To be clear, my pies are vegetarian friendly (using free-range eggs and organic milk; absolutely no lard or gelatin is ever used in my recipes). I just really have to stress that because there is so much confusion between vegetarian and vegan. If I say I don't have vegan pies then a lot of people may wrongly assume that I am not vegetarian friendly. I don't anticipate ever making a pie that is not vegetarian friendly. That is just too important to me.
I am researching and developing recipes for both gluten-free and vegan crusts. I am a little further along on the gluten free crust and hope to be ready to fulfill those orders later in the spring.
The big thing is that I don't want to compromise on the taste and quality of the crust in any of my pies. So if I don't think I have an out-of-this-world recipe for a vegan or gluten free pie crust then you won't see me selling a vegan or gluten free pie. I am working on it.
Our Thoughts on the Pies in Question
We placed an order with Keely a few days beforehand for both a tomato basil pie and a chocolate pecan pie, thinking that those two pies would cover the doughy gamut pretty well. Briggs offers the option of either having the pies delivered or picking them up from her home. We chose the latter. We were greeted at the door by three very polite young men and promptly brought inside to be handed pies. After figuring out how to best secure pies in a car (use the shoulder harness - we promise), we made our way to secret pie-eating location #7 (AKA Seven Mile Coffee).
We decided to follow our Mother’s rules and save the dessert for last. Besides, the tomato basil pie looked like it was ready to give its life over to our stomachs.
Let us tell you, this was a good pie. It has a really great consistency - which is hard to achieve in a quiche! We thought the balance of flavors was really great - the perfect amount of cheese to egg to vegetable. The various herbs and spices both looked and tasted fresh. But we know what you’re the most worried about, carb-lovers. How was the crust. You can rest assured that this is a very good crust, perfectly flakey in all the right spots while still maintaining its structural integrity. Briggs suggests this as a dinner pie, but we can also easily see this being used as a brunch centerpiece so long as there are plenty of bloody Mary’s to go ‘round.
We were already full at this point (two slices of the tomato basil will do ya), but the looks of this chocolate pecan pie (and our eating disorders) convinced us to keep going. The crust was of the normal Lucky Star Pie quality (read: great). The filling was of a great consistency. That can be a bit of a problem with some pecan pies. Some like them runny, some enjoy them to be like jello. This was the Goldilocks of pecan pies. We also commend the creative use of chocolate chunks sprinkled throughout this pie. If you’re a liar, keep in mind that these are totally homemade pies. You could easily also pass them off as something that you baked yourself. The prices are not excessive for the quality and the ordering process is painless.
Lucky Star Pies
Give Lucky Star Pies a shot and then think about answering our question again. Who has the best pie in Denton? We know our answer.