March 10, 2023 at 7:13 p.m.

Pizza from the prairie

Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen churns out Italian classic
Roger and Lori Pietz started making kuchen in 2008 at their business, Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen, in Scotland, South Dakota. They began to make and sell their South Dakota Pizza in 2019.  PHOTO SUBMITTED
Roger and Lori Pietz started making kuchen in 2008 at their business, Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen, in Scotland, South Dakota. They began to make and sell their South Dakota Pizza in 2019. PHOTO SUBMITTED

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SCOTLAND, S.D. – Few small, independent food businesses can claim they go through 500 to 750 pounds of cheese to make pizzas each week. But that is exactly the case for Lori and Roger Pietz, who own and operate Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen of Scotland.
Roger and Lori got into the pizza-making business via a circuitous route.
“We started making and selling kuchen in March of 2008,” Roger said. “That was the culmination of a dream that was in the making for 20 years. When I was a boy, I would stand on a stool and watch my mother make kuchen. I knew that if we could develop a kuchen recipe that was close to Mom’s, I could sell it.”
Kuchen is the German word for cake. There are numerous types of kuchen; the kind that is made at Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen includes a custard-like filling that contains cream and fruit. Kuchen is considered by many to be a dessert.
The South Dakota Legislature designated kuchen as the official state dessert in 2000.
Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen soon developed a following and became widely known for its delicious kuchen, kolaches and meat rolls. Kolaches are a round Czech pastry that are traditionally made of sweetened yeast dough with a fruit filling in the center.
“We have shipped our products to every state except Hawaii,” Lori said. “We have also had visitors from nearly every state stop by for a visit of our kitchen facilities. Many people who are vacationing to South Dakota learn that kuchen is the state’s official dessert. They want to have the full South Dakota experience, so they … and drop in for a visit. They usually buy some of our products too.”
Roger and Lori decided to take the plunge into making pizza in 2019. It took them some time to develop all the different types of pizza they now offer.
“We experimented quite a bit with our recipes before we settled on their final versions,” Lori said. “Our family and our four full-time employees were our taste testers. They really enjoyed that part of their jobs.”
Roger and Lori decided to name their lineup of pies South Dakota Pizza.
“We use as many South Dakota-sourced ingredients as possible in our South Dakota Pizzas,” Lori said. “This includes such things as the South Dakota-produced flaxseed and the honey that we include in our pizza crust.”
Cheese is the star ingredient of every pizza. Roger and Lori did not have to look far for a source of this all-important component. Dimock Cheese, a small artisanal cheesemaker, is located about 35 miles north of Scotland.
“We asked the folks at Dimock Cheese if they could supply the cheese for our pizza, and they immediately said yes,” Lori said. “It was a natural fit for everyone concerned.”
Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen offers more than a dozen pizzas, including three breakfast pizzas.
“We are now working on a recipe for a taco pizza,” Roger said. “We hope to introduce it soon.”
Lori said the products sold are handmade and contain no artificial preservatives.
“Our grandsons grew up in the kitchen, so they know how to make kuchens and kolaches,” Lori said. “We make everything from scratch, including our marinara sauce, and we use as many natural ingredients as possible.”
Roger said their pizza is unique.
“There’s nothing else like them,” he said. “Our pizzas might cost a little bit more, but we feel that their quality is unmatched.”
Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen churns out about 2,000 pizzas per month along with about 2,000 kuchens.
“We purchase our cheese in blocks from Dimock Cheese and shred it ourselves in our big mixer,” Roger said. “We will make 1,000 pounds of pizza dough at a time. On a normal day, we will whip up about 300 pizzas and 500 kuchens.”
There are presently between 70 and 80 retail establishments and pubs that carry South Dakota Pizza. Roger and Lori hope this number will soon grow.
“We became a federally inspected facility last year, so we can now sell our products across state lines,” Roger said. “Our pizzas and kuchens have proven to be popular for fundraisers. For instance, the Yankton High School band recently placed an order for 1,000 items that they will use to raise money.”
It was only fitting that one of the first retail establishments to carry South Dakota Pizza was the store at Dimock Cheese.
“South Dakota Pizza is our best-selling item in our frozen food section,” said Kim Tiede, retail store manager at Dimock Cheese. “We sell thousands of pizzas per year. The Mammoth Three Meat and the Homesteader’s Supreme are the most popular.”
Roger and Lori continued to be surprised, yet satisfied, with their delicious success.
“I never thought that our pizza would reach this level of success,” Roger said. “It has been a lot of hard work, but we love it.”


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