Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Kolache Revolution

When it comes to what's popular, food is really no different than clothing fashions. Every year, it seems like there is something different that everyone is talking about, whether it is cupcakes or glammed up hotdogs. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for a food trend. I was a huge fan of the rise of the cupcake, and instantly wanted to make those delicate almond macaroons when I learned that they were becoming all the rage on the east coast.

The downside of living in middle America is that all of these trends manage to find their way here 1-2 years after they've already become old news on the coasts. Again, with amusing similarities to fashion. There is exactly one dedicated cupcakery in Sioux Falls, OhMyCupcakes, which opened a good year after everyone started saying cupcakes were passe. So it goes.

So I'm going to start my own culinary trend. Are you ready?


Unless you are, or live near a Czech community, you may not be familiar with these delicious little pastries. Essentially, they are a sweet roll, similar to the dough used to make cinnamon rolls, filled with a fruit, nut, or savory filling.

When I was a child, we would attend The Chicken Soup and Kolache supper in Fairfax, IA, hosted by the Free Masons in my grandparent's hometown. Local women would prepare many dozens of cherry, apricot and poppyseed filled Kolaches in their own home kitchens, then bring them to the supper to share and sell for fundraisers. The soup was nothing amazing, but I would look forward to the supper all year, in anticipation of one of those delicious poppyseed kolaches. They're adorably compact (usually being no larger than the palm of your hand), rich, and permanently associated in my memory with traditions, comfort and home.

What's more interesting, as far as I can see, you almost never see kolaches as a standard bakery item. Somehow, the kolache has fallen behind the cinnamon roll and the muffin into a realm of obscurity. Why not resurrect it?

 Take this recipe, friends and go forth! It's actually my grandmother's so be nice to it.

Grandma Eileen's Kolaches

The dough

2 c. cold water
2 sticks oleo, hacked up (I used butter---but I still hacked it up)
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
………. Heat all of the above slowly in a sauce pan to 120 – 130 degrees

6 c. flour
2 pkgs dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten

Mix 3 c. flour and the yeast in large bowl . Add to this the heated liquid from above, mixing slowly. Add to this 2 beaten eggs & mix at slow speed ½ min. and then beat at high speed 3 min. Add 3 more cups of flour, beating in by hand.

Cover the bowl with greased saran wrap, and let rise 30 min to an hour. I let mine rise for the full hour, and it expanded just a bit.

After the dough has doubled in volume, remove on to a lightly floured board. It helps to use a greased or sprayed spatula to remove dough from the bowl.

After removing dough on to a floured board, take a tablespoon and cut dough off in chunks and form into 2 in. domes. Think about the same size as a ball of cookie dough.

Now the fun part: Baste thoroughly with lard.

My mother claims that commercial lard just isn't what it used to be, and is really not any better than using butter in this case, although I disagree. While I'm sure it tastes different than it used to, I think that lard is definitely a pivotal element to this recipe. It gives the rolls a slightly richer, more savory flavor than butter, which I think is not to be overlooked. I'd also like to take this opportunity to apologize to a few of my vegetarian friends, who I covertly fed these kolaches to, forgetting about the whole lard thing. Well, you guys liked them anyway!

Gently make impressions in the centers and fill with fillings. I used cherry pie filling and a modified poppyseed filling.

Poppyseed Filling
Mix 1 can poppy seed (Solo), 4 graham crackers (4 of the qtr sections) & 3 tbsp milk.

Let kolaches rise again [10-15 min.]. Top with a mixture of ½ c. flour, ½ c. sugar, 1 tbsp. cinnamon. 

Bake until golden to light brown. When taken out of oven, baste thoroughly with lard one last time.

Eat, enjoy and start the kolache revolution!

1 comment:

  1. true story: i can detect things like lard in recipes. also true: i am not a stickler. and those kolaches were scrumptious. if i make 'em, i'll stick with butter. ;-)