I’m not completely crazy about white bread […] (Unless I time-travel back to when I was 14 and get a big thick slice of Mum’s bread still just a little warm from the oven – slathered with butter and top layered with thin thin thin slices of cheddar cheese.)
– me, blog from OUR kitchen, Cream Cheese Garlic Buns (BBB May 2023)
Kolache postponed until the end of July….
Best laid plans, and all that…. I WAS going to make kolache earlier this week and schedule the write-up to appear today [16 July]
– me, blog from OUR kitchen, BBB July 2023 Kolache postponement: Busman’s Holiday
Postponed until the end of July, eh? Promises, promises.
Here it is over a week after the end of July. Late I am. But at least I finally made kolache! And because I’m a wayward BBBabe, I used some of the dough to make a small brioche. And only two kolache.
Kolache!? What is that, you ask?
Before July’s BBB host Judy (Judy’s Gross Eats) told us about the July project, I had no idea. Even though it turned out that I had seen and read about them before.
Here’s what I learned about kolache this time round (I think I may have retained the information this time too):
Brought to Texas by Czech immigrants, these palm-size sweet (and sometimes savory) pastries are a sibling to the Danish and are heaped with either a cheese or a fruit filling. The amount of pride Texans from all over the state have for these treats rivals that of New Yorkers for their bagles, and multiple towns claim the title “kolache capital” and hold kolache festivals. The dough for these much-beloved buns is enriched with eggs and butter […] very much like a brioche dough.
– America’s Test Kitchen, ‘Kolaches’, Bread Illustrated, p.511
Made with sweet yeast dough, these fruit-filled pastries were featured in our June/July 2009 special issue about the food wonders of Texas. Kolaches, which are Eastern European in origin, can be filled with just about any fruit, from blueberries to apricots.
– SAVEUR Magazine, Strawberry Kolaches
We love Texas kolaches as much for their soft pastry as for the variety of sweet fillings.
– SAVEUR Magazine, Apricot Kolache Filling
Admit it, food lovers of the world. There’s a part of you that wishes you were Texan. And who would blame you? Texans, virtually all 25 million of them, have a way with food you won’t find anywhere else […] Is it possible to capture all the bravura and glory of Texas food in just 24 short articles? Probably not, but it would be awfully un-Texan not to try.
16. Desserts with Attitude Texas home cooks have a legendary sweet tooth, as evidenced by the state’s early cookbooks, which practically overflow with baked-goods recipes. Buttery kolaches are yeast rolls filled with fruit preserves and cottage cheese
– SAVEUR Editors, Twenty-four Reasons Why We Love Texas, SAVEUR No.121 “The Texas Issue” (July 2009), p.33,63
On my second day living in New York City, I woke up hungover and hankering for something doughy and delicious. Naturally, I asked my then-roommate, a native San Diegan, if he knew where I might find a simple kolache in Manhattan. “A who?” he asked, bemused. […] If I ever had a we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore moment after moving from Houston to NYC seven years ago, this was definitely it: realizing that the kolache (pronounced koh-la-chee) of my childhood—with its pillowy, yeasted dough encasing fillings both sweet, like fruit jams, and savory, like sausage, cheese, and jalapeños—would no longer be a morning tradition.
Over the next century, a new Tex-Czech hybrid category evolved, making use of local ingredients like dewberries and prickly pear, yielding riffs that are still made by the Czech-American community today. […] [S]avory versions with spicy sausage, ham, or chorizo begin to emerge under the umbrella of “kolaches,” when in reality, you’d never find a meat-filled kolache in the Czech Republic.
– Dan Q. Dao, ‘Kolaches Are the Texas Breakfast Staple Worth a Trip to the Lone Star State: How the traditional Czech pastry became as quintessentially Texan as smoked brisket and pecan pie’, SAVEUR No.188 “Eat the World” April/May 2017
If you’ve never had a kolache, you’re in for a treat. This Czech pastry is made with sweet dough and all sorts of delicious fillings. […] [T]hey aren’t that difficult to pull together. […] [Y]ou only have to worry about your filling. And this recipe shows you how to add a cheese or fruit filling. If you go the fruit route, you can pick whatever flavor you like best.
– Kim, Insanely Good, 10 Best Kolache Recipes (Sweet and Savory)
Here is what I did with the BBBabes July 2023 project:
BBB Kolache diary:
7 June 2023, 15:58 T is going to be out of his mind with joy with these pastries! He is always badgering me to make brioche-like bread with commercial yeast. I love that Judy’s “grandma” made great dumplings and equally great kolache for you. (I’m reminded of our “great aunt” who brought Icelandic cake – vinarterta – to our family every Christmas. I sure hope this sort of food/family sharing still goes on!)
23 June 2023, 10:21 Both of us really miss our furry black fiend! Even though part of his mission in his far too short life was to destroy the kitchen door jamb (as well as other parts of the house…).
The house is so so so quiet.
28 June 2023, 19:23 We’re so excited! We have a new decoration for the kitchen window: a cute little cat.
4 July 2023, 14:10 Our favourite Portuguese butcher sells fruits and vegetables as well. When we were there today, we couldn’t help ourselves from buying some beautiful looking Bing cherries that were about half the price per pound of cherries elsewhere in Toronto. There were only 3 bags left on the otherwise empty table. We had to get a bag. T wants to have cherry jam in his Kolaches.
5 July 2023, 11:03 Today I spent about an hour failing to fix the belt on our hand vacuum: a Dirt Devil. Some jackass of a designer decreed that the screw holding down the oh so cute cover for repairing the belt should be buried deep deep inside a little cavern. The screw head can only be seen with a flashlight. It can only be accessed by a long-shafted x- screw driver. There are ZERO instructions on the little vacuum about this stupid screw. There are all kinds of instructions on how to fix the belt itself. And the hole for the belt screw is exactly the right size for the implement to attach the belt.
Why didn’t I go online to find out how to do it? Because it’s a long and sordid tale.
We have only one computer right now and no wireless access. But at least we HAVE internet access now. This is a great improvement over a couple of days ago when we had zero internet, zero cellphone (because the provider said we had to pay more because we had used up all of our time allotment being on hold with Bell), and only outgoing calling ability on our phone. The phone is fixed now. We also have an internet connection. And a working cellphone. Maybe, maybe, maybe, we’ll have wireless access tomorrow when our computer guy comes.
17:52 I’m very happy to report that we just made 6 beautiful wild pita breads. In spite of the fact that I forgot to build the leavener late last night and didn’t start it until early this morning. Usually, I’m not all that happy when the night temperature doesn’t go below 20C and during the day it is humid and around 30C in the house. But thanks to that heat (and our brilliant Jane Mason starter), the leavener was ready to go at around noon. Yay!!
Also, T made jam out of those cherries today. He macerated them in sugar overnight first. And then had them on a very low simmer. But because of the nightmare with the hand vacuum cleaner, the cherries almost got away from us, coming perilously close to bubbling down so far that they were close to being scorched. All those cherries really shrank down; they made just one jar of jam! It tastes a little raisin-y…. Oops.
Perhaps we will be using that really good commercial cherry jam we can get from the Turkish store. We’ll taste the jam T made today in a couple of days to decide.
6 July 2023, 15:19 Thanks to our wonderful computer guy, we now have our complete internet back!!
To get the wireless working, it turns out we needed to know the answer to the question before asking it. There is a tiny tiny button on the back of the wireless box that has to be pressed after the perfectly visible On button has been pressed. Shriek. (There was NOTHING on the internet to indicate that there are two buttons: one to turn the machine on and off, and another to enable it. Why are there two buttons?!!)
I still find it hard to grasp that a.) we have become so dependent on our computers, b.) people cannot believe that we still have (and want) a landline, and c.) in 1994, we argued with my sister when she said we should get a computer instead of a new word processor; our repeated answer to her was that we didn’t neeeeed a home computer and NOBODY neeeeeded a home computer. Ha. How times have changed. (Sometimes I long for the 3 day power outage that we experienced when the Eastern seaboard went down because of overload on the power grid. We all were reminded then about how to entertain ourselves with – gleeps!! – books, talking, board games, gazing at the night sky that was actually visible from the city, ie: anything not electronic.)
Still. I’m very happy to be back online.
11 July 2023, 07:07 I WAS going to make kolache this week and schedule the write-up to appear on the 16th. But after looking at this week’s schedule and realizing that it would be crazy not to wait until after I get back from UK, I scheduled a post to explain why I am postponing.
25 July 2023, 14:23 Here is my practice room last week.
And the amazing view of fields, some of them playing fields for the school, and some of them pasture for sheep, and some of them fields of grain, and some of them apple orchards.
Yes. It was idyllic!
Here is the view in the other direction, looking
from the music building door looking toward the Abbey:
It was amazing to be in a place where the only sounds were String Quartet playing, swifts singing, bells ringing (the school is at an abbey), and sheep bleating. It was heaven!
(I’m suffering from Culture Shock now, being back in the city.)
27 July 2023, 17:12 I had planned to make kolache the moment I got back from UK. But, one of the violinists (a surgeon no less) in another quartet got a cold half way through the week. He DIDN’T mask up, even though we all dined together in the same room. Sure enough, our first violinist and I spent the last day of the course, masked. And I had to stay masked when travelling home.
Alas, trying not to but failing miserably, I managed to give the cold to T when I got home. (We’re so relieved that it’s NOT Covid. We were pretty sure it wasn’t but tested anyway, just to be sure.) Anyway, I’m going to wait until T can taste things properly.
The other day, T brought home a basket of apricots from the half-price section of our favourite fruit and vegetable store. They looked a little scary, but after some judicious cutting away of the worst bruising, he made spectacular apricot jam with the very very ripe fruit.
We decided to nix the over-cooked cherry jam that tasted like raisins and will use apricot jam for our kolaches. And maybe some cream cheese. Or what about goat cheese?
(It looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop of blackberries this year; if they were ripe now, I’d want to make some blackberry kolaches!)
1 August 2023, 17:15 I haven’t forgotten about making these! I’m just waiting until all the coughing stops. Alas, I managed to get a cold (thank goodness it wasn’t Covid) when I was in UK; even worse, I brought it home with me. I’ve pretty much stopped coughing, but T is about 3 days behind me.
Kolaches sound like they are too good; we really want to be able to taste things properly….
5 August 2023, 11:17 We have been re-reading our copy of “Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook” by Robb Walsh. There are many references to sausages and hams made by Czech immigrants. The book is really good, with wonderful sepia and white photos, as well as many many recipes for Texas barbecue and the sides to go with it. But, waaaaah, there are zero recipes for any pastries, not even a mention of kolaches.
8 August 2023, 14:48 It’s a miracle! I am finally making kolache dough! I mixed everything together earlier today. It felt so strange to be using commercial yeast! And even stranger to be using zero whole wheat flour.
The dough is rising nicely, but it’s QUITE slack.
Is it supposed to be so slack?! Should I add a bit of flour? I can’t begin to imagine being able to a.) divide it into even parts, or b.) shape each oozing bit of sludge into anthing even vaguely resembling a ball.
My plan is to make half the dough into kolache (I just learned that “kolache” is the plural of “kolach”) [I]n Czechoslovakia, the singular is kolach (or kolāč), and the plural is kolache. Once the pastries became popular in the U.S., the plural term kolaches was adopted by many. Feel free to use either term. I’ve kind of been using both, so the grammar police might show up at my door.
– Karen, Karen’s Kitchen Stories | Czech Kolaches
and half into a small boule. Because T loves white bread and adores brioche, claiming that I never make it for him. Which is pretty much true. Because I’m afraid of brioche.
15:41 I can’t believe it!! The dough has not only doubled beautifully, but it LOOKS like dough! Without any extra flour. Woohoooo!
Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter.
– BBB kolache recipe
Hahahahahahahaha! Punch this beautiful fluffy and light dough down? Punch??? I think not.
I have now pre-shaped the dough, making two smallish boules and one quite large boule. The two smallish boules will be turned into kolache, and the large one will become plain brioche.
T wants me to brush it with milk and scatter on more sugar. Hmmm, is this a good idea? Isn’t there already enough sugar?
16:43 The bread is in the oven! And. How easy was that to shape?!
I’m so glad that I actually managed to read (and retain – errm mostly) to use a measuring cup to make the indentations for the filling.
Grease and flour bottom of a round 1/3-cup dry measuring cup. Press the cup firmly into the center of each dough round until the cup touches the sheet to make indentation for filling. (Reflour the cup as needed to prevent sticking.)
– BBB kolache recipe
Ha. Did I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup? No, of course not. Even though after I was filling the indentations, I was thinking that the 1/4 cup measuring cup I used was too small.
I also didn’t grease the bottom of the cup. Instead I slathered the little rounds with milk so the baked kolache would shine. The milk was perfect for stopping the measuring cup to stick!
(Speaking of 1/4 vs 1/3, I just learned that there are some very very confused people who imagine that 1/3 is smaller than 1/4!)
[O]nce upon a time, A&W Restaurants released a third-pound burger that failed to catch on thanks to a misunderstanding of fractions. […] In the 1980s, then-owner A. Alfred Taubman launched the “Third is the Word” campaign to promote A&W’s new third-pound burgers and compete with another brand’s smaller quarter-pound burger. […] Confused why A&W’s burgers weren’t able to compete even though the burgers were priced the same as their competitors, Taubuman brought in a market research firm. […] [P]articipants were concerned about the price of the burger. “Why should we pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as we do for a quarter-pound of meat?” they asked. It turns out the majority of participants incorrectly believed one-third of a pound was actually smaller than a quarter of a pound.
– A&W Restaurants | The Truth About A&W’s Third-Pound Burger and the Major Math Mix-Up
!!! What ARE they teaching in school these days?
17:13 I cannot believe how much the kolache puffed up! They’ve easily doubled in size – both up and across! Taking them out of the oven, the apricot jam is molten. It will be really interesting to see if the jam solidifies as the kolache cool.
And the plain boule? Oh my!! It’s not done yet, but it is huge! (Silly me, I didn’t take a before picture to show the dramatic changes in size.)
18:04 Everything smells fabulous!
The next morning, we warmed the kolache in the toaster oven and served them with goat’s cheese for breakfast. And butter. Because you can never have too much butter.
We also toasted a couple of slices of the brioche. T was in heaven. He LOVES this kind of bread!
Thank you, Judy! That was so much fun!
Here is the July 2023 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:
Kolaches with Apricot Jam
based the recipe for ‘homemade kolaches’ on The Vanilla Bean Blog, which in turn was based on the recipe for kolaches in “Bread Illustrated” by America’s Test Kitchen
I’m addicted to kolaches. Any and all kinds […] When I first came across them in Bread Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen’s bread book) I instantly walked to my kitchen cupboards and took out all the ingredients needed: flour, yeast, butter, cream cheese, milk, sugar, lemon.
– Sarah Kieffer, The Vanilla Bean Blog | Homemade Kolaches
Dough for 2 kolaches and one small boule
- 3.5 grams active dry yeast + 10 grams water
- 245 grams unbleached ‘no-additives’ all-purpose flour
- 33 grams sugar
- 100 grams plain 3% yoghurt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 4.5 grams seasalt + 10 grams water
- 70 grams unsalted butter, softenened
- apricot jam (home made is best)
- sugar (optional)
- sugar (optional)
- Butter: In the morning of the day you will be baking the kolache, measure butter from the fridge and put it into a smallish covered dish. Put the dish into the oven with only the light turned on to get the butter nice and soft.
- Dough: In a smallish bowl, whisk yeast with 10 grams room temperature water until the yeast has dissolved (if the kitchen is cold, use luke warm water; do the baby’s bottle test on your wrist to check it). Let the yeasted water stand as you mix the other ingredients.
- In a mixing bowl large enough for the final dough to triple, whisk flour and sugar together. Add the yoghurt, yeasted water, and egg. Use a dough whisk (or a wooden spoon, or your hands) to mix this together until all the flour is absorbed and you have a rough dough. If there is a considerable amount of flour still in the bottom of the bowl, add a little splash of water. Cover the bowl with a plate and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Whisk salt and water together in a little bowl and pour it over top of the dough in the big bowl.
- Kneading and adding the salt: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt-water mixture into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like maybe it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Don’t be overly concerned that the dough seems to stay a little gloppy. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Repeat the folding step once more, covering the bowl with a plate and leaving it for 30 minutes afterward.
- Adding the butter: Smear the softened butter over the top of the dough. Again, using one hand to squoosh and one hand to turn the bowl, sludge in the butter. It may seem like a futile exercise. When most of the butter has been absorbed, cover the bowl with a plate, and leave for another 20 minutes.
- Turn the dough one more time and be relieved that, while it is still a little gloppy, all the butter seems to be inside the dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave in a draught-free spot until the dough has almost doubled.
- Prepare the pans: Line a rimmed baking sheet and a a small pyrex pie plate with parchment paper.
- Preshape: When the dough has almost doubled, admire the way it has turned into stunningly beautiful, fluffy dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Use the dough scraper to divide it into two pieces, one that is two thirds the size of the dough. Cut the smaller piece into two. Form each of these pieces into boules. Cover the larger boule with an overturned mixing bowl, and the small boules with a tea towel. Leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Shaping: Sprinkle flour on top of each boule and gently flatten it. Turn it over and reform into a boule. Tighten each newly formed boule (without breaking the skin) with the dough scraper. Place the small ones seam side down on the baking sheet, and the larger one seam side down in the pie plate. Cover the larger boule with a large overturned mixing bowl that completely clears the shaped bread so it won’t touch as it rises. Cover the smaller boules with a tea towel and set aside in a draught-free area of the warm kitchen for about 30 minutes.
- Turn on the oven: With the rack in the middle, turn the oven on to 400F.
- Adding the topping and filling: When the oven is completely heated, liberally (but gently) brush milk all over the small boules. Sprinkle a little sugar overtop. Then, to make the indentations for the filling, using the bottom of a flat-bottomed round 1/4 cup (or 1/3 cup if you want a wider filling area), press down in the centers of each small boule until the bottom of the cup almost reaches the baking sheet. However, you don’t want to break right through; indeed, the dough probably won’t let you….
There is a very handy illustration on p.515 in Bread Illustrated by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen:
Spoon apricot jam into the indentations. Sprinkle a little sugar over the apricot jam, if you want.
Just as liberally and just as gently as with the smaller boules, brush milk all over the large boule.
- Baking: Put the pan with the kolache on one side of the middle rack, and put the pie plate with the larger boule on the other side. Cover it with an overturned mixing bowl (light-weight stainless steel is best because it’s easier to remove when it’s hot). Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until they are a beautiful rich golden brown. Turn the tray with the kolache around half way through to account for uneven oven heat, and remove the mixing bowl hat from the larger boule at the half way point.
Transfer kolaches to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm.
- Cooling: Remove the baked bread and kolaches to a footed rack to cool completely; they are still cooking internally when first removed from the oven!
Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
– Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery
If you want to have the kolache right away, serve them when they are still warm from the oven. But if you want to have them later, fully cooled kolache can be reheated in a low temperature toaster oven.
:: Flour: Next time, I would be inclined to replace some of the all-purpose flour with 5 grams wheat germ and maybe a small amount of whole wheat flour as well. Just because I like the idea of hand-milled flour (I also think that using only white flour is a little dull).
:: Sifting: For a while now because of the time a couple of years ago when I had difficulty opening a bag of flour (too much glue had been used to seal the bag; the glue had hardened and some shards of it dropped into the flour bag), I always sift all-purpose flour. Always. Virtually very time I sift all-purpose flour (using a sieve and dough whisk to gently push the flour through), there are at least two or three shards of unknown substance that might be cardboard, or dried flour, or dried glue. Or worse. Needless to say, those shards go directly into the compost bin.
Sifting is mandatory, even for self-rising flour. The sifting will catch any impurities in the flour, and mass-milled flour will have some mysterious specks here and there.
“I sift all my flour,” [Momma] said. “Some people don’t, and I eat their bread, but I don’t really want to. You know, I just do it to be polite.”
– Rick Bragg, chapter 1 “Them Shadows Get to Dancin'”, Butter Rolls, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, p.34
:: Yoghurt: The full BBB recipe calls for milk, egg, and 2 egg yolks in the dough. If I were making the full recipe, I would use 2 eggs, rather than an egg and 2 egg yolks. And because of one recipe I saw that called for sour cream in the dough, I chose to use full fat yoghurt instead of milk.
:: Fillings: Apparently, fruit jams and/or sweetened cream cheese are the standard fillings for kolaches. We chose to use apricot jam. However, Judy wrote the following:
Originating in central Europe, kolache are […] filled with cream cheese/farmers cheese, fruit jams, poppy seeds, or, in the case of the Texas version, sausage. Sizes range from sweet roll-size to cookie-size. There is usually a crumb topping as well. Note the “usually” there. We decided to be unusual and leave out the crumb topping.
Bread Baking Babes Kolache
Judy hosted July 2023’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:
July’s bread challenge shares a bit of my background and heritage: kolache, the (mostly) sweet Czech pastry. Growing up, we had family friends, originally from the Chicago area, with whom we spent a fair amount of time. Occasionally, ‘Grandma’ would come to visit from Chicago, and the family would celebrate with a feast. She was very old-school – didn’t speak English and baked without measuring anything. Her dumplings were sublime, and her kolache were just as delicious.
Originating in central Europe, kolache are a type of semisweet pastry, made from a puffy yeast dough, and filled with cream cheese/farmers cheese, fruit jams, poppy seeds, or, in the case of the Texas version, sausage. Sizes range from sweet roll-size to cookie-size. There is usually a crumb topping as well.
– Judy, excerpt of message to BBBabes
We know you’ll want to make kolaches too! Don’t worry that it’s too late to receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make kolache anyway and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked). If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.
For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:
- BBB Kitchen of the month:
Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: Kolache, BBB July 2023
- BBBuddy guidelines
- about the BBBabes
Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ July 2023 Kolaches:
- Aparna, My Diverse Kitchen: Kolache
- Cathy, Bread Experience: Einkorn & Spelt Sourdough Kolaches — A Tangy Twist on a Czech Classic
- Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: Czech out the Babes! (kitchen of the month)
- Katie (BBBBB), Thyme for Cooking: Bread Baking Babes Bake Sweet Breads
- Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories: Czech Kolaches
- Kelly, A Messy Kitchen: Kolache #BBB
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups
» BBB July 2023 Kolache postponement: Busman’s Holiday
» In the Heat of the Night (BBB August 2018)
» Delving into the Archives: 2015’s NFFtT Apricots Jam revisited
» Mad Dogs, Englishmen and BBBabes… (BBB August 2016)
Exploring my Celtic roots with Kouign Amann (BBB February 2015)
» Brioche flower; or is it a star?? (BBB December 2014)
» Brioche et un petit Gâteau à la Crème (BBB March 2013)
» Peachy! Jam Fan Tans (BBB January 2013)
» Jam Tarts