In a little more than 24 hours, I’ll be taking off on a transatlantic journey to London and Istanbul. And while I won’t be able to share the fish and chips, bread pudding, meze, and kebaps that I’ll be feasting with you, I will leave you with a particularly fun and rewarding recipe to try out while I’m gone.
Have you figured out what these delightful-looking pastries are yet? That’s right, they’re kolaches! Okay, so maybe you’ve never heard of these before. And to be honest, I had never heard of them until a little over a year ago. But if you are a native of Texas or the Czech Republic, you are probably amongst the fortunate few who have been sampling these hearty and delicious pastries since childhood. I envy you.
I first happened upon these pastries in Dallas, but you need go no further than your kitchen to enjoy these highly malleable treats. The dough is springy and a delight to work with, and goes well with both savory and sweet recipes. Below I’ve included recipes for both sweet kolaches (with apricot) and savory kolaches (with sausage and jalapeno). The dough is the same for both, so if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, I suggest you use half the dough for each recipe and make both all at once! Or you can double the dough. At least, that’s what I did. Call it making up for lost time, growing up kolache-less.
Adapted from Homesick Texan
Makes about 18 kolaches
For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm whole milk (do not boil)
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups flour
3/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling (sweet):
1/2 pound dried apricots
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
For the crumbles (sweet):
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
For the filling (savory):
4 cooked, thin sausages, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2 inch segments
2 jalapenos, chopped and seeded
For the dough, combine the yeast, warm milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour in a large bowl. Cover with a washcloth and let rise until it has double in size, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Combine the eggs, 1/2 cup of the melted butter, and the salt in a bowl and beat. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time. You have added enough flour when it is soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if/when necessary.
Grease a bowl and place the kneaded dough in the bowl, and cover until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes to an hour.
Punch down the dough.
Pull off pieces that are about the size of an egg, and flatten into discs that are about 3 inches in diameter. Brush pieces with melted butter, place on a baking sheet, and cover and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the sweet apricot filling, place the apricots in a bowl, cover with cold water, and let sit for at least 4 hours, until fruit rehydrates. Drain the fruit, place in a large saucepan, and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, until fruit is very tender. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest, and mash with a potato masher until the apricots have been pureed.
For the sweet crumbles, combine all ingredients using a pie cutter or fork.
Once the three inch pieces of dough have risen, make indentations in the middle of the dough with your thumb. Fill with apricot filling and sprinkle with sweet curmbles. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The kolaches are ready when they are slightly golden brown. When they are ready, remove from oven and brush with melted butter.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Once pieces of dough have risen, wrap each piece around a piece of sausage and a few bits of chopped jalapeno. Make sure to seal the dough well, not leaving and holes. Bake for 12 to 15 mintues. The kolaches are ready when they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Serve with mustard or ketchup, or enjoy plain!