Linda Larson Valiga,
M.S., Career & Technical Education;
B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences and Education.
However you spell it- Kolach, Kolache, or Kolachky– this filled sweet yeast dough pastry is traditional to Czech, Bohemian, Moravian or Slovak heritages. They’re served at summer festivals, holidays, life celebrations and sometimes just for breakfast! The name originates from the Bohemian word ”kolo” meaning circle or wheel. These “wheels” with sweet or savory open-faced centers may be small individual wheels or up to 12-14-inches across.
Kolache has long held a special place in Linda Valiga’s family who settled, like many Czech and Slovak families immigrating to the U.S. Linda’s maternal grandparents and paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Bohemia through Ellis Island in the late 1800s. Linda’s rich upbringing in a Bohemian community in Chicagoland provided her kolach/kolachky recipes for both dough and filling.
Linda shares, “in Phillips, Wisconsin where my husband’s Slovak family settled, the nearly 40-year Czech festival celebrates its heritage with Czech music and art, “royalty,” a beer garden and baking contest, typical ethnic foods, a bakery and a Kolachky eating contest. The delicious recipe used in the contest? It’s the one from the local newspaper, The Bee. It’s now our family favorite recipe and I’m sharing it below.”
Czech Kolachke Recipe
“As a Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS) and Culinary teacher, I’ve loved mentoring the next generation of FACS teachers. I’ve shared this recipe for Kolache/Kolachky, finding it perfect for teaching Elgin Public School students about ethnic yeast breads, basic yeast bread production and fermentation, and other culinary and baking principles and techniques.”
This no-knead dough can be made, fermented and held n the refrigerator for as few as 6 hours and up to 48 hours. Then the small Kolachky or bigger Kolache can be shaped, filled, and baked on the next class or home baking day. This versatile dough also makes great cinnamon rolls or shaped coffee cakes.”
Recipe Title: Czech Kolachke
Recipe adapted from source:
The Bee newspaper- 2003, Phillips, Wisconsin
1 package (2¼ teaspoons/7 g)) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon (4 g) granulated sugar
½ cup warm water (100-115°F/388-46° C)
4 cups (19.2 oz/544 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
½ cup (115 g) cold butter
¼ cup (50 g) shortening
1 cup (8oz/237 mL) cold milk
2 large eggs
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (2 g) lemon zest ( optional)
SOLO brand fruit fillings: apricot, blueberry, cherry , poppy seed, prune, and/or raspberry)
For dusting after baking powdered sugar
3 tablespoons (40 g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (23 g) flour
2 tablespoons (28 g) cold butter
- Combine the dry yeast, sugar, and warm water in a bowl or glass measuring cup. Let sit for 5 minutes to dissolve.
- In a separate bowl combine flour and salt. Add butter and shortening; cut in with a pastry blender until it resembles small peas OR, cut fat into flour using paddle attachment on an electric mixer using lowest speed. Set aside.
- In a separate mixer bowl for an electric mixer, mix the cold milk, eggs, granulated sugar, and lemon zest 2 to 3 minutes, with mixer paddle.
- Add the dissolved yeast to the milk-egg mixture. Slowly add the flour-butter-shortening mixture, using the mixer at the lowest speed, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time; mix until the dough is formed. This dough will be sticky; that’s okay. Resist the temptation to add more flour.
- Place the dough into a greased 2-gallon zippered plastic bag, or in a large, greased bowl that’s covered with plastic wrap after adding the dough. Allow the dough to proof for 6 hours to 48 hours in the refrigerator. The dough will become light and airy.
- Put the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Cut in 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough in to an oblong roll and cut in 10 to 12 pieces.
- Roll each piece with your hands to make a small ball. Place on a greased baking sheet or parchment-lined baking sheet. Rest dough balls 5-10 minutes.
- Depress the center of each ball with your fingers. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling into the depression.
- To make the streusel, Combine the sugar and flour and cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry blender or with 2 butter knives until the fat pea-sized. Sprinkle unbaked kolachky with ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) prepared streusel.
- Bake at 375°F/190 °C for 10 to12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.
Option: Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Use all-purpose flour only. Bread flour is too high in protein/gluten, making the product chewier than desired for Kolachky.
- Do not use jellies or jams for filling as their sugar content causes them to boil out over the dough during baking.
- If you live in an area with a bakery supply store or with a food co-op run by the Amish or Mennonite community, look for fruit fillings used in bakeries such as Solo cake and pastry filling.
- Use this dough to make cinnamon rolls and as a basis for braided or shaped coffeecakes.
Photo: Use this wooden pastry tamper (see image) to depress the center of the dough for each unbaked Kolachky. (You can purchase a pastry tamper on-line or check at a kitchen supply store. If you are an educator, ask your Tech Ed department to make some for your culinary/baking classes. )