Tarts, pies, cheesecakes and cookies…oh, my!
CiderHouse Pies Shop is not just in Summerville anymore — now it is in Walterboro, too.
Debbie Wentzel is a pastry chef specializing in made-from-scratch handcrafted pies, tarts, cheesecakes, cookies and whoopee pies of all types and flavors using highest quality local ingredients. She is now baking and selling at the Community Kitchen and the Walterboro Museum and Café.
Wentzel has been a flight attendant, an EMT, and several other jobs, but life took a sharp turn for her when she discovered she had rheumatoid arthritis and then breast cancer.
“I had started working at Roper and realized I wasn’t feeling well. I had a routine mammogram and they found cancer. I had radiation and worked at getting my strength back up. There are still some things I can’t do and need help with, but I love baking; it’s my passion,” said Wentzel.
Originally from Odessa, Texas, she married her German husband Holger who came to this area to work for Mercedes Benz. Holger encouraged Wentzel to pursue her dream of becoming a pastry chef/baker. She took classes, but really learned her love of baking pies from her mother and grandmother.
“I remember baking my first pie with my grandmother when I was 14 years old. I was really proud of myself. I asked my Mawmaw how would I know when the pie is done. She said it needed to be bubbling. Every time a pie would come out of the oven, she would say, ‘it’s bubbling,’ and then she would sing, ‘Jesus’s love is bubbling over, Jesus’s love is in my soul…’ It was wonderful, and baking became an important part of my life from that experience,” said Wentzel.
While scooping chocolate chip cookie dough to prepare for baking, Wentzel showed her devotion to baking by carefully patting each dough ball into a perfect size and shape. “I love to have my hands in flour and making food that makes people happy,” Wentzel said. “That’s why I started CiderHouse.” She gave the business the same name as the cabin where she spent her honeymoon.
She remembers years back when she made scones and pies for people at her husband’s job. “They were very popular, and I was constantly asked to send more and more. That’s when I realized that my baking was better than the average,” Wentzel said. In the Community Kitchen, she began prepping dough for pie crusts using specialized and healthy ingredients that are kosher, non-GMO and organic. She started baking at 9 a.m. and wouldn’t finish until midnight. She puts her heart and soul into every single pie she creates.
Wentzel began selling her wares in her neighborhood near Ridgeville. Word quickly spread and her fame grew. She added another neighborhood and then the Summerville Farmer’s Market. But because of word of mouth and Facebook advertising, she discovered that she couldn’t keep up with the workload.
“It took me a year to figure out what to do with my baking and how to get organized, and now, it has grown so much that I can’t possibly keep up, so I have decided to stop selling at several places and concentrate on baking for my neighborhood, at events, and at the Community Kitchen and Farmer’s Market deli. I have really grown to love this area; it is special because the people appreciate good tasting food here more than anywhere else,” Wentzel added. “It is also wonderful that I can make something in the kitchen here in Walterboro and take it down the hallway to be sold in the deli. This helps with transportation costs.” Now she sells in the deli, her neighborhood, and online.
“The petite pies have exploded, and I always sell them fast. They are perfect for couples who don’t want to buy a big pie, for a date night, or for a small family who doesn’t want to feel guilty about eating sweets!” laughed Wentzel. “But people in this area love pie and can’t get enough of it. I stay busy,” she added. “Our little community here has real people. We are ‘pie’ people. We are social eaters and enjoy eating pie with family. We know and love good food in this part of the world.”
In the last few weeks, CiderHouse Pies has been serving up some “made from scratch” handcrafted, hot fresh chicken pot pies for $10 on Thursdays for lunch service at Colleton Museum & Farmers Market Café. These pot pies are six inches around and made with two crusts (bottom and top) with all non-GMO, free-range, hand-pulled chicken, potatoes and organic mixed veggie filling. Wentzel is selling beefy cottage pot pies with cheddar and chive biscuit topping as well. They are in such demand that they don’t last very long at the deli.