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Cook the Book: Kolaches

Cook the Book: Kolaches

[Photograph: Lisa Fain]

Kolaches, those sweet little stuffed pastries of Czech origin are one of those regionally unique treats that's not too easy to find outside of a certain area of Texas.

To satisfy her craving for these little yeasted buns, Lisa Fain, author of The Homesick Texan Cookbook, took it upon herself to recreate them in her tiny New York. She equates the challenge to tackling bagel-baking in Texas—ambitious with a touch of foolhardiness.

It took Fain a few attempts to get her kolaches up to her exacting standards but these are pretty darn close to the ones that she was missing.

For the uninitiated, kolaches are lightly sweet, squishy little buns that are most commonly filled with dried fruit, cream cheese, or sausage. The sweet ones are finished with a sprinkling of cinnamon spiked streusel. Fain reminisces stopping for the best kolaches in West, Texas, a hamlet that lies halfway between Dallas and Austin, but if a Texas road trip isn't in the cards just yet, this homemade version is almost as satisfying.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Homesick Texan Cookbook to give away this week.

From The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain. Text and photographs copyright © 2011 Lisa Fain. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

Cook the Book: Kolaches

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About This Recipe

Yield:12 kolaches
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Pastry
  • 1 tablespoon or 1 packet of yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (1½ sticks)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  
  • For the Crumble Topping known as Posypka
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  
  • For the Dried Fruit Filling
  • 1/8 pound dried fruit such as apricots or prunes
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  •  
  • For the Cream Cheese Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

Procedures

  1. 1

    For the Dried Fruit Filling: Cover the dried fruit with water for 1 hour to hydrate. When the fruit is rehydrated, cook on low for 15 minutes, adding sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Place in a blender and puree.

  2. 2

    For the Cream Cheese Filling: Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the flour, egg yolk, and lemon zest.

  3. 3

    For the Pastry: In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

  4. 4

    Melt 8 tablespoons unsalted butter. Beat the butter together with the eggs and salt. Add eggs to flour mixture and blend. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of the flour. The dough should be soft and moist. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on a floured surface. Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until it’s doubled in size—about an hour.

  5. 5

    After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 12 even-size pieces. In your hands, roll the pieces into balls and then flatten them to about 3 inches in diameter. Place flattened pieces in a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise again for another half hour.

  6. 6

    Meanwhile make the fillings and mix together the flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon for the posypka topping.

  7. 7

    After the second rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. With your finger gently make an indentation in the center of each dough ball (be careful not to flatten it too much) and fill with one tablespoon of the filling and sprinkle with posypka. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. While baking, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Brush with melted butter when you take the kolaches out of the oven and serve warm.

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