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Learn. Cook. Eat

By Staff | Dec 27, 2013

THIS CARROT CAKE recipe came from Rose Behrens’ favorite, “We Give Thee Thanks” cookbook, published in 1980 by the St. Francis Rosary Society in Ossian. “This is the best carrot cake,” Behrens said.

CARROLL – Even though Martha Stewart indirectly inspired Rose Behrens’ annual cooking school, the media mogul has nothing on the Behrens family when it comes to trying new recipes and having fun in the kitchen.

“I’ve been hosting our cooking school for about five years, and we enjoy learning together,” said Behrens, whose farm kitchen southwest of Carroll buzzes with activity in November and December.

Behrens’ cooking school started when her niece, Jamie Wilhelm, wanted to learn how to make pie crusts and the homemade bread that Behrens frequently prepared when her three children were growing up.

This request evolved into cooking school, which has grown into a large family gathering each November at Art and Rose Behrens’ farm southwest of Carroll.

This year’s cooking school kicked off on Nov. 8 with a Friday night “Wine Down,” as Behrens’ family members gathered together to reconnect and visit.

THE BEHRENS family fries its doughnuts in canola oil in an electric skillet set at 350 degrees.

On Saturday, the baking began in full force as daughters, nieces, grandchildren and others prepared family favorites like glazed doughnuts, which Behrens’ mother-in-law, Margaret, has been making for more than 50 years.

Margaret Behrens received the recipe from her mother-in-law, and enjoyed making the glazed doughnuts for her six children when they were growing up.

“The doughnuts taste best when they have just been fried and glazed,” said Margaret Behrens, who stopped by this year’s cooking school to sample some of the finished products.

“We just eat our mistakes.”

The Behrens family also enjoys trying new recipes. This year, apples and apple butter provided inspiration for many new recipes, including a popular apple cinnamon pull-apart bread that Behrens’ daughter, Michelle Doerer, prepared.

ROSE BEHRENS’ mother-in-law, Margaret, has been making these glazed doughnuts for more than 50 years. Margaret received the recipe from her mother-in-law. Today, the glazed doughnuts are a family favorite at Rose Behrens’ cooking school.

Sharing culinary knowledge is also a big part of cooking school. Behrens has provided demonstrations on cooking basics, including how to cut up a whole chicken.

“It’s great to see my family gain more confidence in the kitchen,” said Behrens, who grew up on a farm near Calmar. “Part of the reason our cooking school is so fun is that there’s no pressure, and recipes don’t have to turn out perfectly. We just eat our mistakes.”

Through the years, the Behrens family has also invited guest cooks to be part of the experience, including Trish Roberts, of Carroll, who shared her secrets for baking kringla.

“I never thought cooking school would carry on all these years, but I’m glad it has,” Behrens said. “Cooking school started with the food, but it’s really about the relationships.”

Glazed doughnuts

ROSE BEHRENS, left, works with her niece, Jamie Wilhelm, of St. Paul, Minn., to prepare Glazed Doughnuts and serve other treats that were included in this year’s cooking school at the Behrens farm, including apple cinnamon pull-apart bread.

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup mashed potatoes

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 cups warm milk

2 packages yeast

6 cups flour


1 pound powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk

Combine sugar, mashed potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, egg, warm milk and yeast.

Add approximately 6 cups of flour. Mix the dough, and let it rise (about 40 minutes).

Roll out the dough, and cut with a doughnut cutter, or a drinking glass and a small jar lid (for the hole).

Let the doughnuts rise until they reach desired size.

Fry doughnuts in canola oil in an electric skillet set at 350 degrees. Turn the doughnuts in the oil when they start to turn golden brown.

Combine all glaze ingredients in a bowl. Add just a little water to make a paste. Dip doughnuts in the glaze while the doughnuts are still warm.

Instead of a glaze, the doughnuts can also be sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

Carrot cake


2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 cups shredded carrots

1 teaspoon vanilla


8-ounce package cream cheese

1 stick margarine

1 pound powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups walnuts

1 cup coconut

Cream sugar, vegetable oil and eggs, beating after each egg is added. Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

Add shredded carrots and vanilla to creamed mixture.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Combine frosting ingredients, and frost the cake after it has cooled.

Apple cinnamon

pull-apart bread

Behrens’ daughter, Michelle Doerer, of Coralville, shared this tasty recipe at the family’s 2013 cooking school.


2 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 package regular active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 medium Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced


1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 3 tablespoons milk

In 3-quart saucepan, stir together milk, oil and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Heat to simmering over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat; cool until warm (between 90 and 110 degrees).

Add yeast and 2 cups of the flour; stir until blended. Cover; let rise in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, the salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-by 4-inch or 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. On floured work surface, roll dough into 20-by12-inch rectangle.

Cut into five 4-inch strips, then cut crosswise six times, making 30 4-by-2-inch) rectangles.

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Spread mixture over rectangles.

Place 1 or 2 apple slices on each rectangle. Create five stacks of dough with six rectangles in each stack.

Place stacks in loaf pan, edges facing toward bottom of pan and sugared sides facing center of loaf, not ends of pan.

Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients with wire whisk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over loaf.

Smoky apple butter ribs

(Juicy, slow-cooked pork served with apple butter sauce makes an easy dinner option.)

3 pounds boneless pork country-style ribs

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 cup apple butter

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place ribs in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Cover with onion slices.

In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; pour over ribs and onion.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours. Remove ribs from cooker; place on serving platter. Cover to keep warm.

Pour juices from cooker through strainer into 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium.

Cook about 5 minutes or until sauce has slightly thickened. Serve sauce with ribs.

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