From now until Christmas, the bakers at Merritt’s Bakery will concoct around 5,000 pies.
That’s a lot of pie. And most of those are made for just two days: Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“It’s a real trick to schedule everything because nothing can be done very much ahead. We don’t bake and freeze,” says Larry Merritt, owner of Merritt’s Bakery.
Merritt’s has been in Tulsa 41 years, and has grown considerably since the early days when Larry and Bobbie Merritt were the only two employees. Now Merritt’s has 60 employees and three locations.
That’s where thousands of unbaked pie crusts are stored no more than a month before they’re filled and baked for the holidays.
The sheer number of pies picked up the day before Thanksgiving alone is staggering. That’s when shifts of bakers come in to bake through the night, starting about 24 hours before the first pies go out. Three bakers work for 8 or 9 hours before the night crew comes in to cook in the wee hours before handing it off to the morning crew. Around the clock they bake until every Thanksgiving order has been filled.
Merritt’s makes more than 30 varieties of pies, including some hard-to-find pies like mincemeat, sweet potato and egg custard.
The top four holiday pies sold are, in order, pumpkin, pecan, apple and chocolate cream.
Merritt’s pies don’t have intricate cut-outs or details, but that’s just how Larry Merritt intends it to be.
“We try to stay fairly middle of the road,” he says. “The working class is our market.”
The most outside-the-box holiday pies Merritt’s makes are the Dutch apple or caramel apple, both of which are delicious.
Merritt estimates he will sell between 800 and 900 pecan pies over the holidays. The pecan pies are made with pecans from the Miller Pecan Co. in Afton. He says fresh, local pecans are the secret to a great pecan pie.