Fellow church members at First Church of the Nazarene in Elizabethton call Joe Schultz “Mr. Delicious” for his ability to bake a variety of tasty pies, cakes and breads.
Joe and his wife, Patty, both worked as registered nurses before their retirement. When they retired in late 2002, they moved from Nashville to Elizabethton.
“We love it here,” Joe said.
The couple reside on a nine-and-a-half-acre plot of land they refer to as their personal “wildlife sanctuary.”
They are both involved with church activities at First Church of the Nazarene.
“For the last few years, we’ve hosted the Easter Sunrise service here,” Joe said, adding that he even makes a special breakfast casserole to serve after the service.
Their home on Centerview Drive offers some spectacular views, perfect for witnessing the sunrise on an Easter morning.
Peggy Gales, a fellow church member, is responsible for encouraging Joe to enter the annual Cooking Contest held in conjunction with the Unicoi County Apple Festival.
“Peggy enters every year,” Joe said. “She finally talked me into entering last year.”
He entered his Apple Caramel Cheesecake in the “Other” category in the cooking competition and won first place. The other categories in the yearly competition include “Apple Pie” and “Apple Cake.”
For his winning recipe, Joe used Honey Crisp apples.
“I like Honey Crisp apples,” he said. “They’re nice, firm cooking apples.”
Typically, cooking apples are round. Joe said some other good cooking apples are Granny Smith and Gala.
Eating apples are oval apples, such as Golden Delicious and Red Delicious.
Now, as the winner of the 2011 Unicoi County Apple Festival Cooking Contest, “Mr. Delicious” has an accolade to back up his nickname.
He plans to enter the competition again this year, but hasn’t decided what category he would like to enter.
“Baking is what I really like to do,” Joe said. “A lot of people don’t make bread any more, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
He said that rapid-rise yeast now makes the baking process a much shorter one, which should encourage more people to bake.
“A lot of people think that baking takes too long,” Joe said.
He said he follows the example of his mother and his mother’s grandmother when it comes to kneading the dough for his bread.
“I know a lot of recipes will tell you to knead it on a flat surface, but I use a bread bowl just like they did,” Joe said.
After kneading his dough and cutting it into slices, he braids the slices into loaves that he fits into baking pans. Before giving the dough time to rise, he applies a brush with an egg yolk glaze that will give the finished bread a pretty shine.
“My recipe for bread makes a very tasty, delicate loaf,” Joe said.
One of the final touches for one of his loaves involves toppings. He said he will sometimes sprinkle his loaves with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or even coarse sea salt.
“It’s very good,” Patty added.
Joe joked, “My wife is my biggest supporter, and my most violent critic.”
Patty is also a fan of her husband’s hand-made pie crusts.
“For a successful pie, you have to make your own crust,” Joe said.
He described his pie crust as a “very flaky” crust that he refers to simply as a Crisco Classic Crust.
When they both still worked in the health field, Joe would bake items that they both could take to their workplaces to share.
A secretary in Patty’s workplace was the first person to dub him “Mr. Delicious.”
Patty was also known for hosting “Tea at 3 with Patty” at her workplace.
“No matter what Joe made, the president of my office always wanted three pieces,” Patty said.
Once they retired, however, the couple didn’t exactly slow down.
“We’re busier now than when we were working,” Joe said.
Patty, who is a member of the Sycamore Stitchers, has taken up quilting. She plans to exhibit one of her quilts in the upcoming Sycamore Stitchers Quilt Show.
In addition to his baking, Joe tends garden and is an avid bee-keeper.
“We have some chickens, and I use their eggs for my baking,” he said.
Joe also uses the honey harvested from his honeybee hives in his cooking, and he harvested 300 pounds of honey from his 10 hives this year.
“Last year, I had enough honey to sell,” he said. “I sold some at Nancy’s Kitchen and the Bonnie Kate Café.”
In fact, the Bonnie Kate Café uses his honey in some of its own dishes.
Joe is also a member of the Washington County Beekeepers, a local organization that meets the first Tuesday of each month.
Ironically, Joe hasn’t always been fond of cooking and baking. He said that he and his son would both come home. His wife, who also worked, would arrive home, but she was expected to prepare dinner and then do the dishes.
“One evening, I surprised her,” Joe said. “I had supper already fixed when she got home. My son and I also did the dishes.”
Patty was delighted with the surprise. “Everything tasted wonderful,” she said.
Since that time, Joe said he has continued cooking for his wife and for a wider audience that has also come to embrace his baking and cooking.
He’s still not fond of doing dishes.
“I don’t mind telling you, that is my most unfavorite task,” Joe said.
Joe and Patty recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.
They are the parents of a son, Joseph T. Schultz III, who resides in California where he works in Hollywood as a freelance producer for post-production sound for motion pictures.
Joe said that he and Patty are, in every way, perfect partners, including in some of their shared interests.
In addition to their involvement in activities at their church, they also enjoy simple pleasures at home by watching the many birds that visit their feeders and bird-houses.
Joe is sharing recipes for his Celebration Egg Bread and Apple Caramel Cheesecake.
Celebration Egg Bread
NOTE: Joe said this is a delicious and very delicate bread. Prepared as per directions it is one large loaf, but by dividing the dough in half and each half into three pieces then making two small braids and putting each in a bread pan results in two beautiful, glossy loaves. One to eat and one to give away.
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
4-1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the butter, sugar, salt, eggs and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface or simply knead in the bowl, adding small amounts of flour as necessary until bread is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. At this point, the dough will spring back when a finger is pressed lightly into its surface. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four pieces. Shape each piece into an 18-inch rope. Place ropes parallel to each other on a greased baking sheet.
Beginning from the right side, braid dough by placing the first rope over the second rope, under the third and over the fourth. Repeat three or four times, beginning each time from the right side. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Beat egg yolk and water; brush over braid. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
Apple Caramel Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs, about 8 whole crackers
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
One 14-ounce package caramels
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups peeled and chopped apples
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18-inch square). Securely wrap foil around pan.
In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of prepared pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees or 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook and stir caramels and milk until melted and smooth. Pour 1 cup over crust; sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans. Set remaining caramel mixture aside.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon flour and remaining sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Combine the apples, cinnamon and remaining flour; fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour into crust.
Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Reheat reserved caramel mixture if necessary; gently spoon over cheesecake. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.
Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until center is just set. Remove pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
This week’s column was written by Bryan Stevens, assistant editor of the Elizabethton STAR.
To submit your own recipes or suggest a person for “Chef’s Corner,” email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 297-9077.