Gayle Schultz knows a thing or two about baking pies. And if you live in Adel, chances are you’ve eaten a piece of one.
The Adel woman has been baking the pies for Patrick’s Restaurant in Adel since 1975. Word of her delicious pies quickly spread to the point where she now makes dozens of pies for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
And what may surprise some is that instead of traditional pumpkin pie, many ordered Dutch apple pie for Thanksgiving. It’s similar to a regular apple pie but with a crumbly top.
“People have gotten so they can buy the shells and put the pumpkin in it,” Schultz says. “It’s gotten a lot easier so people don’t order as many pumpkin pies.”
Schultz learned to bake from her mother. The family lived in Coon Rapids and her mother also baked for restaurants. Schultz moved to Adel as an adult and made pies for local bake sales. The owner of Patrick’s Restaurant bought a couple of her pies and asked Schultz to start baking for the restaurant.
She now bakes anywhere from a dozen to 16 pies a week for Patrick’s. The flavors range from strawberry-rhubarb crunch and blueberry crunch to peach, cherry and blackberry. Sometimes she’ll throw in a red raspberry and a raisin, which customers seem to really like. At Christmastime, orders mostly consist of Dutch apple, her personal favorite in addition to soft pies, though she doesn’t make and sell those.
The Dutch apple pie recipe is one she devised on her own.
“It’s by trial and error a lot of times,” she says.
For her apple pies, Schultz says she uses Jonathan apples if they’re available. If not, then she mixes Yellow Delicious apples with Granny Smith. She says the yellow apples balance out the tartness of the Granny Smith. Most pies contain two yellow apples, two Granny Smith and two or three Jonathan.
Schultz uses fresh fruit in the summertime and when it’s in season, but otherwise she buys frozen fruit to use in her pies.
Most of the recipes came from her mother and are only recorded in Schultz’s mind.
“There’s no real recipes written down,” she says. “I just do it. My girls keep telling me I need to write it down.”
Schultz’s mother always used lard to make her pie crusts. She started out doing the same but found there was too much variation in the lard she could buy — sometimes it was too watery; other times, it wasn’t. Now she uses Crisco shortening to make her crusts from scratch.
Schultz admits she sometimes tires of pie-baking. She works for the school district, and on baking days, she takes a quick power nap and then gets to work in the kitchen. Most pies take about an hour to bake, so she’s finished about four hours after she gets the first ones rolled out.
The key to a good pie is the crust, she says. She makes her crust dough the night before and puts everything in the refrigerator except for the liquid. When she’s ready to make the pies, she pours in ice water — that’s the secret — and rolls out the dough.
“You just go by the feel of the pie crust when you’re mixing it up,” Schultz says.
The love of baking
For Teresa Wichtendahl of Adel, baking is a way to show friends and family how much she cares for them.
“I love to bake,” she says. “I like to bake for my friends and family as ‘Thank yous.’ ”
Wichtendahl is perhaps best known for her cinnamon rolls and her cookie of the month order that she donates for the silent auction for the Ladies Guild at Faith Lutheran Church. Dallas County Treasurer Darrell Bauman always purchases the cookie of the month to share with his employees and others in the courthouse.
“My staff and I enjoy her cookies,” Bauman says. “She’s such a great baker.”
He says his favorite cookies of Wichtendahl’s are her peanut butter and oatmeal raisin. The office also enjoys her frosted pumpkin bars and frosted sugar cookies at Christmastime.
Bauman places an order with her every month. “She’ll even try things that we just come up with,” he says.
Wichtendahl’s heritage is Norwegian. At Christmastime, she always makes krumkake, a Norwegian cookie that is made in a waffle pan and then rolled up and filled. She also makes Scandanavian almond cake and will put them in her neighbors’ mailboxes.
Wichtendahl learned to bake from her two grandmothers, whom she grew up around. One of her grandmother’s specialties was rye bread (the recipe is listed at the end of this article), which Wichtendahl now makes for holiday family get-togethers and to give to others.
With Christmas fast approaching, she’ll make Scandanavian almond cakes every couple of days to give as gifts.
“I do enjoy doing it,” Wichtendahl says. “I feel we’re so busy nowadays and to be able to take the time to make something for somebody is to let them know I care about them or how much I appreciate what they’ve done for me.”
Christmas dinner for her family will include her dinner rolls and her grandmother’s rye bread. She’ll also make lefse and crescent rolls.
“Those are a big hit with the family,” she says.
If family stays overnight, she’ll serve her cinnamon rolls or braid bread for breakfast.
Wichtendahl’s daughter has now taken over some of the pie, cookie and cupcake baking. She’s teaching her how to master the rye bread recipe.
“Watching my grandmas do it and growing up with it and having my kids do it with me is a comfort thing,” she says.
As soon as Colleen Tauke’s daughter comes home from college for holiday breaks, the baking begins. From soft pretzels to homemade pies, there’s a list that both daughter Caitie and her friends want.
Last month, Tauke and Caitie made an apple pie together while Caitie was home for Thanksgiving. The recipe, which uses Granny Smith apples and a made-from-scratch crust, has been passed down from Tauke’s great-grandmother. Both of her grandparents had apple trees on their property, so apple pie was a common dessert served in their households.
“It seems like a very ordinary thing (the apple pie), but whenever I take a pie to an event, everyone is asking ‘Who make this? Who made this?’ ” she says.
Tauke learned a lot of her baking skills from her grandmothers, as well as from nine years in 4-H and with her college education in home economics. One grandmother would make cinnamon rolls every Saturday morning. She would call all of the nearby family and tell them rolls would be coming out of the oven in one hour, and everyone would rush over to eat.
She says she remembers one of her grandmothers, who is now 94, in the kitchen when she was a child.
“She never measured anything,” Tauke recalls. “She used her hand for everything. She would put the flower in by the handful.”
She’s trying to pass those same recipes to Caitie. Her three sons also occasionally help in the kitchen, though mostly like to eat.
Whatever she makes “usually doesn’t last very long if everybody is home,” Tauke says.
Tauke and her family also make cutout sugar cookies at Christmastime. Everyone gets involved because they also like to decorate their own cookies. Holidays in the Tauke household also mean each child makes a request of what he or she wants made, whether it be homemade fudge and Oreo balls or chocolate-dipped pretzels and Snicker surprise cookies.
The family will spend the days before Christmas making and baking two or three varieties of cookies and candy each day. Then they pack up everything they haven’t eaten and take it to share with family for Christmas.
We at Adel Living wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!