Category Archives: Kolache

Making Kolacky

I been makin’ kolatch-kee for forty five years…was the mad refrain of a retired ninety-something baker who lived next door to a high school buddy of mine. Back then, as a cocky teenager hanging around in Riverside, Illinois, I thought it was pathetic. Nowadays I can imagine many far less pleasant things to have spinning around in my senile old brain. As a middle-aged man who appreciates a good kolache, I look back on that guy as sorta lucky. I don’t know what he would have thought of these. My guess is he’d have taken one look, waved his hand dismissively and walked the other way. That’s what makes guys like that great.

Begin by combining the wet ingredients including the melted butter in a bowl.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk them together.

Combine the two mixtures in the bowl of a mixer and stir on low until everything is moistened.

With everything wet, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium for 5-7 minutes.

You want a dough that’s elastic, somewhat sticky, and adheres to the bottom of the bowl as the dough hook goes around (something like brioche dough). If it’s very wet and sticky, add more flour an 1/8 cup or so at a time.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic and let it rise until almost doubled, about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375.

Weigh out the dough to 1 to 1.5-ounce pieces…

roll them into balls and let them rest about 20 minutes.

Collect your fillings. Now, using the tips of your fingers, make a depression in the center of the dough ball.

Fill that depression with about a tablespoon of a filling of your choice: poppyseed, prune, cottage cheese, or a jam of some sort (see fillings menu under the Pastry Components section to the left). You can also use some cooked fruit if you wish, just be sure that you take precautions to keep the filling from weeping moisture into the dough. Stir a little extra sugar into it, a couple teaspoons of cornstarch, or both.

Let them sit about 15 minutes to get a bit puffier. At that point brush on a little beaten egg and sprinkle on some streusel. No need to be be neat about it.

Bake for about twenty minutes until golden. Serve warm if possible.

VARIATION 1: For roll-style kolache, divide the risen dough into two pieces. Roll each into a rectangle, apply a filling of your choice and roll the rectangle up jelly-roll style. Slice the roll with a piece of dental floss as you would cinnamon rolls, and lay them out on parchment-lined sheet pans to proof. Apply streusel or a simple icing after baking.

VARIATION 2: For sausage kolache, wrap a dough ball around a small cocktail weenie, Vienna sausage or other small encased meat. Proof and bake as directed.

VARIATION 3: For giant kolache, make bigger balls and press out into larger disks. You can make these as big as tarts or pizzas of you wish, slice as such, and eat.

Filed under:  Kolacky, Pastry | 12 Comments

Kolacky Recipe

This is how I remember the spelling in many of the Czech bakeries along Cermak Road. There, kolaches were usually round and puffy, made from a yeast dough instead of a short crust. The ingredients are:

12 ounces (1 1/2) cups warm milk
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) melted butter
2 egg yolks
2.5 ounces (generous 1/3 cup) cup sugar
1 lb. 5.25 ounces (4 1/4 cups) flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Combine the milk, melted butter and egg yolks in the bowl of a mixer and stir together with the paddle. Combine the reminding ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add them to the milk mixture and stir until they’re moistened. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes.

Allow the dough to rise for about an hour. Cut the dough into 1 to 1.5 ounces balls and place on a greased sheet pan. Allow them to rise about 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375. Make a depression in the middle of each ball with your fingers, and add the filling of your choice. A streusel topping is optional.

Allow the kolaches to rise another 10-15 minutes, then bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve!

Filed under:  Kolacky, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Kolaczki

These cookie-like kolaczki — which in my understanding are a Polish version — are some of the easiest of the breed: essentially a cream cheese pie crust tube full of jam. Make yours by combining the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl or in the bowl of a mixer.

Beat on medium speed until they’re well combined and fluffy.

Add the flour and salt and stir everything together until a dough begins to form. Don’t stir much more than this lest you activate too much of the flour’s gluten.

Collect the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for at least an hour, up to 3 days. When you’re ready to make the cookies, take the dough ball out of the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for about half an hour. This will soften it a bit. Remove it to a board that’s been liberally dusted with powdered sugar.

Press down hard on the dough to get it spreading…

…and roll it out into a large sheet. The thickness will depend on how big you want your kolaczki. For small kolaczki, roll the dough extremely thin, less than 1/8 inch. For larger ones, you can roll the dough a little thicker, about 1/8 inch. Why is the dough thickness important? Because a thick piece of dough folded into in a small shape will open up in the oven.

Once the dough is rolled, cut it with a pizza cutter into squares between 2 and 3 inches across. If they’re not perfect that’s OK. A gang of Polish bakers isn’t going to storm your house and check. I don’t think.

Cut’em the other way…and you have your squares. Re-roll your scraps into the next sheet.

And shape. For a typical kolaczki, you want less than a teaspoon of filling. This is too much. For best results, use several different of fillings. Today I’m making apricot, raspberry (untraditional) and fig (eve less traditional).

Now fold in one side…

…then the other. You can stretch the corner and tuck it under for extra insurance against opening, but as I said, dough thickness is they key. This dough is actually a bit thick for the size.

If you prefer a square, fold the points in toward the center. You’ll need a very thin dough to pull off that shape, but it’s a nice variation.

Lay them out on a sheet pan. They won’t rise much so you can lay them close to one another. Let them sit for at least fifteen minutes to relax any activated gluten that may have developed. This will prevent shrinkage and even further decrease the risk of opening. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake 10-20 minutes depending on size, until they’re golden brown. Cool them on a rack and serve. Or, roll them in powdered sugar and then serve, if you’re really hard-core.

Filed under:  Kolaczki, Pastry | 27 Comments

Kolaczki Recipe

Wait, you spelled the word differently in this post. Yes, that’s right. It’s the Polish spelling (or so I understand) because this is the Polish version. Or at least it’s the Chicago Polish version. Or one of them at any rate. Polish kolaczki are envelope-like cookies, made with a cream cheese short crust and jam. To make them you’ll need:

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
pinch salt
about twelve total ounces of filling(s) of your choice
powdered sugar for dusting

Combine the butter and cream cheese and beat them together until they’re light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and stir until blended. Bring the dough together in a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When you’re ready to shape the kolaczki, dust a rolling surface with powdered sugar. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a sheet about 1/4 inch thick (it will be stiff at first but be patient). With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2″ squares. Spread a small amount of filling in a stripe along the dough square diagonally, from corner to corner. Fold in the other two corners to make a sort of tube shape.

Lay the kolaczki on a cookie sheet and bake on a middle rack for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove them to a rack. Dust them with powdered sugar and serve.

Filed under:  Kolaczki, Pastry | 19 Comments