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Kolaches

Kolaches (koh-LAH-chees) are Czech yeast dough pastries traditionally topped with a dollop of prune, apricot, poppy seed, or cheese filling. In appearance, they resemble a danish, but there is a difference: danish dough is light and flaky whereas a kolache tends to be slightly more dense and sweet with the dough being similar to brioche.

Kolaches, which take their name from kolae, Czech for “cake“, were introduced to America by immigrants from the Czech lands of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia in the 1800’s. These immigrants settled in different areas across the United States, including The Coal Region, Texas, and areas of The Mid-West.

What you know as “kolache” varies, usually dictated by “where you’re from”. The sweet fruit-topped version is true to the Czech tradition that holds kolache are only filled with sweet, non-meat fillings, but across the “Czech Belt” of Texas, “kolache” morphed into dough wrapped around sausage, which are known in many other areas in the USA as “pigs in a blanket”. But, “pigs in a blanket” are what halupki (stuffed cabbage rolls) are known as in parts of Pennsylvania.

Then there are the cookies, made from a yeast-based or cream cheese/butter dough known by some folks as “kolache”, but also as kolacky. See, so much really does depend on “where you’re from”!

The Texas version of kolache (the meat-filled one) is more similar to a Czech pastry called a “klobasnek”, but in Texas, both the sweet, fruit-filled version and the sausage-filled are known as “kolache” to most people and it is not unusual to find both side-by-side in a shop or bakery.

Texas “kolaches”

Traditional kolaches, are a staple among Czech communities, appearing at church events and family gatherings and often made by the hundreds for weddings. They are popular for holidays, but are enjoyed any time of the year as a comfort food. Not difficult to make, why not create a batch for your family today? My recipe includes both the traditional prune and simple cheese fillings, but you can use your favorite flavor of canned pie filling or jam instead.

If desired, kolaches may be drizzled with a confectioners sugar glaze or dusted with powdered sugar.


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Kolaches

Recipe by Lori Fogg, A Coalcracker In The KitchenCourse: Desserts, SnacksCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
Servings

24

servings

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup warm water

  • 3/4 cup milk, scalded

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

  • 2 eggs

  • Filling of your choice (prune and cheese included with this recipe below)

  • Prune filling
  • 1 1/2 cups prunes

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Water

  • Cheese filling
  • 2/3 cup cottage, well drained

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions

  • Dough
  • Soften yeast in warm water
  • In large mixing bowl, combine hot milk, sugar, shortening, salt, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Cool to lukewarm (105 to 110F). Stir in 1 cup flour; beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Add softened yeast and eggs; beat well.
  • Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic ( 6 to 8 minute). You may wind up kneading in 1/3 to 1/2 cup more flour.
  • Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat surface. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place until dough is doubled in size, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Punch dough down to deflate; divide in half. Cover and allow to rest 10 minutes.
  • Pinch off and shape each half into 12 balls, roughly the same size. Place the balls 3 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets; flatten each ball using the palm of your hand to 3 inches in diameter. Cover lightly and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Make a deep depression in the center of each piece of dough using the back of a round tablespoon-size measuring spoon. Fill with filling. Make the depression deep enough that the filling will not run off during baking, but don’t press all the way through the dough.
  • Bake at 375F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. May be dusted lightly with confectioners sugar or topped with a glaze made from confectioners sugar with enough milk added to attain a consistency than can be drizzled from a spoon, if desired.
  • Prune filling
  • Place 1 1/2 cups prunes in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them about 1 inch above their surface.
  • Cover, then bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
  • When cool enough to handle, pit prunes and chop. Stir in the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, mix well. Set aside to cool completely.
  • Cheese filling
  • Press the drained cottage cheese through a fine sieve or process in a small food processor. Combine with the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and raisins and stir until blended. Set aside until ready to use.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted from Cooking With Baba Cookbook, SS. Cyril and Methodius Church, Reading, PA
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