I am smitten with the Pastry Queen. Is that weird to say?? Sorry if that’s awkward for you, Rebecca, but I am. Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride has a shared love of the Pastry Queen and her recipes, so we recently met up for one of Rebecca Rather’s cooking classes in Austin. It was a sit, eat & watch cooking class rather than a hands-on class which was perfectly okay since I get plenty of hands on kitchen experience at home. I’ve been eyeing this kolache recipe, along with many many others, since this cookbook landed on my doorstep several years ago but I hadn’t ever gotten around to making the kolaches; this is the case with all my cookbooks as my ever growing collection continues to grow. But Shawnda & I have are going to change that — we’re going to cook our way through Rebecca’s first cookbook, The Pastry Queen! This is post #1 of Project Pastry Queen (I’ve also added a new tag so you can easily find all the recipes in the future). Are you a pastry queen fan and want to join in on the fun? Leave a comment or shoot me a message!
Now for these kolaches, one reason I’ve never made them is that all in all it calls for 9 cups of flour. Yes, you read that right. NINE. haha. Hello carbs!! BUT these are ridiculous delicious and great for an occassional treat and of course they do make a lot of kolaches so you can share with your friends! Having been born & raised in Texas, I never realized that they don’t have kolaches everywhere. The origins of kolaches aren’t exactly clear — some say Polish though in my experience, most say Czech. Origins aside, if you’ve never had a kolache, then you must give them a try. They are a sweet & soft and filled with all sorts of wonderful fillings.
When we visit a kolache shop (there are a lot in Texas although one of the most famous ones is located in West, Texas), I almost always get the savory kolaches whereas hubby goes for the cream cheese ones. So deciding what fillings to use was easy — cream cheese, jalapeno sausage & cheese, and peaches. The first two were natural choices since they’re our personal faves and peaches were a must because (1) its peach season (2) The Pastry Queen resides in Fredericksburg, Texas — home of our hill country peach capital. They were all fabulously delicious and we couldn’t decide which were our favorites. Hubby even liked peach although he’s anti cooked fruit.
Experiment with fillings when you give this a try. You can use the peach filling recipe as the basis of try other fruit fillings (just substitute blueberries & blueberry preserve for instance). The fruit filling is easily halved, or even quartered, so you can try out multiple flavors when you whip these up. Don’t wait years to try this recipe out at home like I did. Its worth it! (Oh and don’t be discouraged by the lengthy recipe. Its really not too complicated!)
Yields 18 large buns (or 27 smaller buns)
2 cups milk
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (110°F to 115°F)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
8 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 batch of filling (see recipes below)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
For the Dough: Warm the milk in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Heat just until it starts to steam and a skin is formed – do not simmer or boil. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly – to about 110°F - 115°F. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the water. Let it sit until it is foamy. If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, salt and melted butter. Add in milk and the yeast mixture. Add in the flour, 2 cups at a time, making sure not to overwork the dough. Keep adding flour until it is fully incorporated. The dough should be sticky, moist and light.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough, recover, and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Grease a 12×17 inch baking sheet. With lightly oiled fingers, shape dough into balls – about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, about the size of small limes. Arrange the balls on the baking sheet – 3 across and 6 down. (I actually make mine 4 across and 5 down and use an extra cookie sheet for the remaining kolaches). Gently flatten balls of dough.
For the Filling: Make filling of choice (see recipes below). Use your thumb to make a generious indentation in each dough round. Fill each indentation with filling mixture, a heaping Tablespoon or two depending upon the size of your kolaches. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the Streusel: Meanwhile, to make the topping, use your hands, a food processor or a pastry cutter to mix the topping ingredients until crumbly. Scatter the topping over the kolaches right before they go into the oven. (Yes it seems like a lot of streusel, but don’t be shy!)
Bake the kolaches until lightly browned – about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm (or at room temperature).
Peach Kolache Filling
2 cups pitted, chopped peaches
1 cup good quality peach jam
Mix together the peaches and peach jam. Follow recipe above as directed.
Cream Cheese Kolache Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Beat all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Follow recipe above as directed.
Sausage & Cheese Kolaches
~ 1 1/4 lb Smoked Sausage (highly recommend using a Jalapeno sausage)
~ 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Follow directions for dough. Press dough into 5 inch circles. In center of rounds, add 1 Tbsp shredded cheese and medium-sized smoked sausage. Enclose sausage and cheese, pigs-in-a-blanket style. Place seam-side down on baking sheets. Allow to rise in a warm place ~1 hour. Bake as directed above.
Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen