My friend Rhonda’s grandmother, who is a full blooded Czech, learned how to make kolaches from her own grandmother and she passed the recipe onto Rhonda, who in turn passed it on to me after I begged and pleaded for it. As you may already know, I was born in the wrong century and am constantly longing for a butter churn and a kitchen the size of our toilet that barely fits the wood burning stove. Since I unfortunately have a decent-sized kitchen and an electric oven, I try to keep history alive through the food I make by using old recipes. I don’t do it often, but I enjoy cooking and baking so much more when I’m using a recipe like this one.
Kolaches are a Czech dessert and are hard to describe. They’re not really like a doughnut, not really like a danish, definitely not a cookie. I guess the closest I can describe them is “pastry-ish.” The dough is sweet and buttery and they are quite delicious. I changed the method so that the preparation time was cut by half, but they didn’t seem to suffer for it. I still spoiled my dinner by gorging on them.
Adapted from Rhonda’s recipe that was passed down from her Grandmother
1 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of milk
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup warm water
4+ cups of flour, divided
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 ¼ tsp (1 packet) rapid acting yeast
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add milk and heat just until warm—about 110 degrees. Set aside.
Beat egg in a medium bowl, then add a small amount of the warm milk & butter mixture to temper it, mixing it in. Add a little more and continue beating, adding all the rest of the liquid in a steady stream. Mix well, then stir in the water and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour and the remaining ingredients. Whisk in the liquid mixture until smooth. Slowly add the remaining flour, stirring with a spoon until it gets too stiff and then using your hands. When you have enough flour, the dough should be soft, but stiff enough to clean the sides of bowl.
Knead dough in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Lightly spray three baking sheets with Pam. Pull off 1-ounce pieces of dough, about the size of a walnut, and roll into balls. Place a dozen on each cookie sheet in rows of 4×3, evenly spaced. Spray the tops with Pam and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.
While the balls are rising, prepare filling(s). Recipes follow.
Make a dent in each ball by pressing finger through to the cooking sheet. Leave about 1/2″ edge around outside of circle. Spoon filling into center. Brush sides of rolls with melted butter.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on racks. Makes 3 dozen.
Apple Filling (my recipe)
1 t cornstarch
2 T sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 T butter
1 t vanilla, lemon juice, apple juice or water
1 ½ cups chopped apples
Stir the cornstarch & sugar together in a small bowl, then add the brown sugar and stir until well blended. Set aside. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the sugar mixture & liquid. Stir in the apples and cook over medium heat until apples are as tender as you desire and liquid is thick. Sprinkle on as much cinnamon as you wish and stir it in well. You can sprinkle your choice of nuts over the kolaches with this filling if you desire. I used pecans.
Sour Cream Coconut Filling (my recipe)
½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
2 T sugar
2 T sour cream
Mash all ingredients together with a fork until well blended. Mixture should be thick and creamy.
Coconut Filling (Rhonda’s recipe)
3 T butter
½ cup coconut
½ cup brown sugar
Melt butter and stir in the coconut and brown sugar until well blended.
Other fillings–all from Rhonda:
Prune & Apricot Filling
1 cup dried prunes
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 TBSP. lemon juice
Cover dried fruits with enough water to cover them. Cook on med. heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Add remaining ingredients.
Poppy Seed Filling
1 cup ground poppy seed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk (probably whole)
1 & 1/2 tsp. lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 & 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Blend all ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool before filling kolache. Will fill one dozen or more.
Cook 1 pound of dried prunes until very tender, remove seeds and sweeten to taste with sugar. Add 1/8 tsp. full cloves and grated rind of 1/2 lemon, if the flavor is desired. Cook until quite thich. You may add a little vanilla if desired.