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Kolaches

So, an article in this month's Gourmet has got my mouth salivating. Unfortunately, there were no recipes attached. I searched the web, but frankly who knows what recipes are good and which are crap. I eliminated the ones without yeast straight off, but then was left with many different versions - with sour cream, without it, with cream cheese - without. Does anyone have a recipe that has been passed down from your grandmas or other Czech relatives?

My favourite things in the world to eat/make are any pastry made with sweet, yeasty dough. I've done Pannetone (okay, I TRIED to make Pannetone - if you want to get technical), romanian cozonac, polish babkas, french brioche - well, you get the idea.

So, any old family recipes for fruit kolaches? Oh yeah, I must specify that the "pigs in a blanket" variety don't tempt me.

THANKS!

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  1. I may not be of much help, but I'll make a suggestion anyway. There are 3 Czech enclaves in the US of which am aware. They are Berwyn, IL, Des Moines, IA and parts of Texas. There may be more, but I do not of them. Surf the web for these places using keywords that include these areas. Meanwhile, I'll go downstairs and look to see if my Czech cookbook has anything of value. I assume your interested in cakes and not the small pastry known as kolacky.

    Berwyn may have a few Czechs still living there, but the ethnicity has changed in the last 2 decades. There was a time when Bohemian was the franca lingua of the town.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      I looked in The Czechoslovak Cookbook by Joza Brizova published in 1965 by Crown Publishers, but what is labeled kolache are fruit or cheese pies. I do not speak the language, but my late mother was fluent in the language. Sorry that I was not of any help.

      1. re: ChiliDude

        Actually, it is the small pastries filled with either apricots or plums or poppy seeds. I didn't even know a cake was possible, but unless it's made of a yeasty bread dough - no thanks.

        In the article, they mention the fruit ones (apricot, peach, plum) and the cheese ones. The recipes I have found on the web so far have the cheese in the dough, and not as a sweet filling plopped in the middle of what looks like a pillowy dough puff.

        1. Dissolve a single (1/4 ounce) package of dry yeast in 14 cup of warm water. Stir and set aside.
          Cream 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons of Crisco and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and whip until fluffy. Set aside.
          Mix 1 egg yolk with 1/3 cup whole milk thoroughly, then combine it with the creamed butter/Crisco/sugar mixture. Stir in 1 cup (4.6 ounces) of flour and the dissolved yeast to make smooth soft dough.
          Rub a light film of melted butter inside a bowl, form the dough into a ball, place it into the bowl and cover with towel. Set aside and allow dough to rise until double in size.
          Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper.
          Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten with the palms of your hands and use a pastry cutter to divide the dough into pieces just slightly smaller than a golf ball.
          Place these pieces on the cookie sheet, spaced about an inch (or a little more) apart, cover with towel and set aside to rise once again until doubled in size.
          Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
          Slightly flatten each of the dough balls and press your thumb into the center of each one. Press hard to make a deep impression but don’t press so hard as to rupture the dough ball’s bottom. Brush each of the Kolaches with a little melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar..
          Fill each of the depressions with your choice of filling (chopped prunes, golden raisins, apricots, peaches, raspberries, finely chopped pistachios, chopped smoked almonds, or a savory filling if you prefer) and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.
          This should give you about a half dozen Kolaches. I keep the recipe small because I’m usually cooking for just the two of us, but you can adjust the ingredients if you need to feed a larger crowd.

          3 Replies
          1. re: todao

            Where and when do I add the butter, sugar, Crisco mixture?

            1. re: maisonbistro

              Thanks for catching that. When I'm working out of my head I often overlook those little details and without younger folks to catch my mistakes I'd be lost.

              1. re: todao

                Thanks for amending that, and thanks ever so much for the recipe. I can't wait to try it out, if not this week then for sure tnext weekend.

          2. Is this the article?
            www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2009/0...

            Those fully enclosed buns, in Bohemian tradition anyway, are buchty- usually filled with poppyseed or prune filling. The open ones are the real koláče/kolaches, although those look like the Americanized versions you find in Texas, so what you're asking for (a more traditional straight from the Czech Republic recipe) might not look so much like those.

            The Czechoslovak Cookbook by Joza Brizova will give you a good recipe for both kolaches and buchty- very, very similar to the ones my Czech grandmother made (I'm a 1st generation American and grew up in a thoroughly Czech household- we speak Czech and eat Czech food on a daily basis). My grandmother's recipe is a list of ingredients, untranslated and unconverted :).

            Check out this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/348882
            And this recipe looks about right: http://na-zdravi.blogspot.com/2006/04...

            However, remember that "Czech" food can be either Bohemian, Moravian or Slovak (or mixed, of course); the food can be very different in each region and kolaches will differ depending on which region you're talking about.

            8 Replies
            1. re: sfumato

              I am polish, so I know firsthand about the regional varieties of one single food - I think it's pretty much the same in any country though. They used what they had!

              It's not so much the picture that got me - it's the sweet yeasty dough. THAT gets me everytime. I'm a sucker for that. My favourite is probably Tsoureki - which is a greek Easter bread. YUMMMM.

              I'm also familiar with that list of untranslated ingredients without instructions. My babcia had a cookbook full of them!!

              1. re: maisonbistro

                True! I just know how you can be looking for one thing, and if you get something different it's not quite the same, you know?

                Oh, how funny- yep, I have my Babi's recipe book, too! And I know what you mean about that sweet, yeasty dough. SO good. Mmmm.

                How about this? http://www.callertimes.com/2001/octob...

                1. re: sfumato

                  Wow!! Great resource for this subject. For those who hope to translate grandma's recipe book: My attempts at that have been frustrating. Not that the language is difficult to translate, that's the easy part. It's that grandma used terms like "some" and other nondescript termst specify amounts of ingredients. All I can do guess how much "some" is. That can be pretty difficult. She also used an oven without a thermostat. I feel lucky if the recipe even offers a temperature recommendation (like ""hot oven" - how hot is "hot") but it's still good fun.
                  Also, re: the butter/Crisco ratio. I find that using the heavier shortening for half the required amount helps the dough hold up better; makes the Kolaches lighter. But you could use butter alone - your choice.

                  1. re: todao

                    I love the "cup" measures. I happen to know that my Babi used a very specific teacup for those cups, so who knows how much the amount REALLY is! Thankfully, both my parents are fabulous Czech cooks AND they also have her recipes and are helping me by racking their brains to remember what she did. :)

                2. re: maisonbistro

                  My family made the Polish version (kolacz, etc.), which are just an unleavened pastry with cream cheese, flour, and butter filled with whatever and dusted with powdered sugar. Delicious.

                3. re: sfumato

                  This thread inspired me to make the buchty from the Czechoslovak Cookbook by Joza Brizova, and my friends are currently devouring them in the kitchen. I highly recommend the soft yeast dough recipe there- it's worked for me every time.

                  1. re: sfumato

                    Would you be so kind as to paraphrase the recipe here for me, or if not, inviting me over next time you make them? altough it might be a bit of a trek for me since I'm in Montreal, Ca. LOL

                    1. re: maisonbistro

                      Sure, come over anytime! :)

                      In the meantime, this one is very similar proportion-wise:
                      homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2007/03/sweet-escape-kolaches.html

                      My recipe also has a teaspoon each of vanilla extract and lemon zest, and the instructions have you proof the yeast in 2 tablespoons of warm water+sugar with a little flour sprinkled over; when that has sat for 10 min in a warm place, you just add all the other ingredients, stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate, and then put the dough on a floured board and knead until smooth.

                4. We use butter, and keep it simple with just yeast, milk, sugar, flour, eggs, and salt. Whip up your your own fillings -- prune and poppy seed are old timey favorites. Pull off a round palm-sized disk of dough, add a heaping tablespoon of filling to the center, then pinch together two sizes to meet in the middle. Brush with melted butter and bake until golden (and sprinkle on icing sugar after it has baked if you like sweeter things).

                  I do not have the old tattered Czech cookbook handy, but there is a pretty familiar recipe on The Homesick Texan blog from March 2007. Please, enjoy.

                  1. I AM interested in the pigs-in-blanket kind. When do you put the sausages in there? Before rising or after?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mordacity

                      I would have to say to put them in after the first rising - if it is a dough that you punch down and raise a second time.

                      1. re: maisonbistro

                        Ok, so I'm now understanding that the kolaches that I grew up eating (and still have to have every time I'm visiting my parents!) in the Houston, TX area aren't necessarily true kolaches-- I'm talking the egg and cheese/bacon/huevos rancheros fillings that you find at places like the Kolache Factory and Shipley's Donuts. I've been on the hunt for a good recipe for these types for years, and now think I'll try some of these recipes and play and pray that it works! Is anyone else familiar with this style of what we call "kolache"? From my memory, I would say that the eggs/cheese/etc were scrambled together first and then placed in the dough-- but after which rising would you put that type of filling? After the first, like the sausages? This post has re-fueled my quest for finally creating kolaches all the way up here in Boston...

                        1. re: stay_classy

                          Howdy fellow Houstonian! I feel your pain. Every time I go back to Texas I bring up a dozen sausage-and-cheese to put in my freezer, but even doling them out they never last long. I'm planning to make my first attempt at kolaches sometime next week - I'll let you know how they turn out!

                          1. re: stay_classy

                            Stay_classy,

                            I would do them after the first rising. After the second rising, the dough would have a hard time rebounding I think.

                            Good luck on your funky klobasneks.

                        2. re: mordacity

                          Then you are looking for a klobasnek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klobasnek)! For my sweet buns (buchty), I do two risings in a bowl, then form+fill the buns, and let them rise one more time for a few hours (depending on the weather and how fast they're rising) in the pan before baking. I use only sweet fillings, though, and I make the buchty recipe in the Czechoslovak Cookbook mentioned above (that particular recipe calls for the "soft yeast dough" in the cookbook, which is the dough I like best).