On Christmas Eve, my sister asked my husband about the holiday traditions that he enjoyed as a child. They got to talking about kolaches, the just slightly sweet, buttery Czech yeast treat and before we knew it, there was a plan in place to make a batch on Christmas morning. It felt right, this bringing his traditions into our communal celebration, and since the dough was so delightful to work with, I had to share the recipe with you.
Yes, it’s a yeast bread which I realize is intimidating to some bakers, but the milk and the butter make the dough soft, pliable, and very forgiving. They look like danish, but they are much lower in sugar, so you won’t crash immediately after eating one, which makes them great for a weekend brunch or even a weekday snack alongside a cup of coffee or milky tea.
I’m determined to have these around our house more often so that a food that was such a part of Josh’s life will be important to our Linden, too.
Kolaches with Fruit Filling
Makes about 20 kolache
2 packages yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
1/2 cup butter, sliced into chunks
1 tsp salt
7 cups flour, approximately
2 cups diced dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, apricots, or cherries
1. Proof the yeast in the water. Scald the milk, then add the butter to help cool it down. Stir in the sugar and salt.
2. Add 2 cups flour and beat (or stir) well. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the yeast.
3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time and mixing well after each addition, to make a soft dough. Grease the top of the dough and let rise 1 hour until about doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Punch dough down, then make golf-ball-sized balls and flatten to about 1/2 inch thick, pinching up the sides to make a basin for the filling. Let rise and bake until the dough starts to brown, about 20-25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, to make the filling, add 2 cup diced dried fruit with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the water evaporates and the mixture has a jammy consistency, 20-30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then use about 1 tablespoon filling in the basin of each kolache.