Czech Kolache (koláče)

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | Leave a comment

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I have been dreaming of some sweet buns with delicious tart fillings and my mind wanders off the koláče my mother used to make.  They were so good it was difficult to eat just one.  And they were so light it was easy to eat 2 or 3 in a sitting which justifiable given that there were often more than one kind of filling…. so you had to make sure they were each good.  😉

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It was about time I made them, and enjoyed them on days when the weather is getting cooler and I’m out in the yard tidying up the flower beds… deserving of something sweet and tart and comforting.  I called my mom and asked for the recipe… she scoured her old cookbooks and gave me a combination of recipes…. giving me options of ingredients though they are mostly basically the same.  This makes life easy, often you have what you need and you don’t have to run out for anything special….. flexibility and adjustments are the cornerstones of our cooking.

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Kolace

  • 250 ml of milk
  • 80 grams of powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 20 grams vanilla sugar (1 teaspoon vanilla)
  • 30 grams fresh yeast or 2 ½ teaspoons of dry yeast
  • 500 grams flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams melted butter (or lard)
  • 100 grams oil
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons rum

Microwave the milk in a heat proof bowl for about 30 seconds on high. Test to make sure it’s hot to the touch but doesn’t burn (essentially hot enough to stand) add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and fresh yeast and stir. Set aside and wait for the yeast to grow.

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In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, salt, melted butter, oil, whole egg and yolks, lemon zest and rum. Once the milk mixture has bloomed add it to the stand mixer with all the other ingredients. Mix, first slowly then bring it up to medium speed. The dough should come together and once it is in a cohesive mixture turn the mixer up a little higher and allow the mixer to knead it for at least 10 minutes.

Set the dough aside in a greased bowl, in a warm place for about an hour or until it doubles. I often turn the oven on for a literally a half minute then turn it off and place the bowl in there to allow the dough to rise.

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Then divide the pieces of the dough (I used about 50 to 50 grams each) into 22 pieces, give or take one depending on how big or little you’d like them to be. Knead each piece into a ball and set on either a greased baking pan or on a silpat (on a pan) pressing each one down a little to flatten it out a bit and allow to rise again to double the size. Once these have risen then using a greased spoon or the bottom or a smaller glass (again greased) indent the centers of each koláč so that you have enough room to add a fruit preserve.

 

Fill the centers with your filling of choice, traditionally this is plum preserves* or apple butter or poppy seeds.  I used cherry and cheese filling**.  Brush the edges with a beaten egg. Bake at 350 until golden brown along the edges (8 minutes for smaller buns; 12 minutes for larger ones like I made)

 

I used some plum preserves I had on hand and made cream cheese filling and sour cherry filling from items I happened to have handy. Cream cheese is not the traditional type of cheese used but I didn’t happen to have ricotta which is the closest to the kind of soft cheese that is used back home.

 

*plum preserves – I used plum preserves I had on hand from a couple of years ago, having cooked down fresh plums, initially adding water to help break them down then cooking them until they were a thick paste and canning them. I added just a splash of lemon juice and a very small amount of sugar so that they would remain tart.  These can also be purchased in many speciality stores that carry German or Slavic foods.

 

**For the cheese filling (non-traditional)

  • 250 grams of cream cheese
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup icing sugar

Mix all the ingredients until well incorporated. You can adjust the sugar to taste. I like things less sweet.

**Sour Cherry filling

  • 2 cups sour cherries with juice (I had frozen ones)
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ – ½ cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a bubble then let cool slightly before adding to the buns.

I have to say that this recipe is best for buns served the same day, that’s of course assuming that you can even keep them around the whole day… if you’re going to keep them any longer then freeze them as soon as they cool and thaw and warm a little in the oven before serving.  They do not keep well on the counter and will dry out if you let them.   I’ve since seen recipes that include sour cream in the buns… maybe I’ll try that next time, maybe they stay softer longer?  If anyone has a secret recipe they’d like to share I’d love to hear from you.  Not that these hang around for long but almost 2 dozen are not so good to eat with just the two of us… all in the same day.  Not that we didn’t try!

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