Sweet Kolaches 12.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Mar 16, 2018

Light as air and brioche-tender, these classic Czech pastries are suitable for a morning meal or an afternoon snack. Their sticky, slightly wet dough mixes together in a snap, and the pillowy texture is evident even after the first rise.

The fillings are mix-and-matchable and each will make enough to fill a dozen pastries. Try the apricot or cheese filling with or without a sprinkling of coconut streusel. Nutella needs only a dash of hazelnut to take it over the top. Layering cheese and apricot is delicious. Avoid the tendency to overfill, just a couple of heaping teaspoonfuls -- no more.

For the cheese filling, farmer’s cheese is more traditional than the drained ricotta called for here. So if you can find it, use 1/2 cup farmer’s cheese in place of the ricotta.

A flat utensil called a bench scraper is helpful for handling the dough on the counter. You'll need a 4-inch round biscuit cutter.

To read the accompanying story, see: All hail kolaches, the buns of Texas (and beyond). Here’s why you want to make them at home..

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rise two times, for a total of a little more than 1 1/4 hours, at room temperature. Or allow the first proof to happen in the refrigerator, for up to 16 hours. These rolls are best served straight from the oven. If you wish to enjoy them a few hours later, wrap each one tightly in foil; reheat them for 5 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Or freeze the buns (wrapped) after they have cooled completely, then reheat them, frozen and unwrapped, in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 12 minutes.


Servings:
12

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings

Ingredients
  • For the apricot filling
  • 3 ounces dried apricots (about 6), finely minced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, warmed
  • For the cheese filling
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained for 1 hour (may substitute farmers cheese; see headnote)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • For the coconut streusel
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For Nutella kolaches
  • 1/2 cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1/4 cup toasted skinned hazelnuts, finely chopped
  • For the dough
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 cups flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

For the fillings (pick one or more for your batch): For the apricot filling, combine the chopped apricots and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and, stirring continually, cook until the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar and orange juice. Let cool. For the cheese filling, beat the drained ricotta, cream cheese, sugar and egg together until smooth. For the streusel, combine the flour, sugar and coconut, then work the butter into the mixture with your fingers until crumbly.

For the kolaches: Stir the yeast into the warm water in a bowl. If after a few minutes there are no bubbles on the surface, discard the mixture and remake it before continuing. Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan (or the microwave) until the butter has melted, remove from the heat and cool slightly. Do not allow this mixture to boil.

Whisk together the sugar, eggs and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt, flour, the milk-butter mixture and the yeast mixture. Beat/knead on medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes, until long strands are forming on the sides of the bowl and the dough is smooth and dotted with bubbles. It will be sticky and will not form a ball, but it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Use cooking oil spray to lightly grease a large bowl. Lightly flour the work surface.

Scrape the dough onto the work surface and lightly flour the surface of the dough. Use a bench scraper to lift and fold the dough, turning, lifting and folding again a few times until it forms a smooth ball. Place in the prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. For a long, slow rise, place the bowl in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Generously flour the work surface. Scrape the dough onto the work surface and press down firmly to deflate the dough. Pat the dough out to a rectangle 16 by 12 inches. Use a 4-inch round cutter or a glass of the same size to stamp out 12 rounds. There should be very little dough remaining. Each round, about the size of a plump silver dollar pancake, should weigh around 95 grams. Place each round on the baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Press a deep well into each kolache with the flat bottom of a glass or a small jar. Press hard as the dough is springy and will want to fight back. (You may also use your well-floured fingertips to tease out a wide well for the filling.) Cover snugly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, about 15 minutes.

Use the same flat-bottomed glass or jar to firmly press down the center of each kolache once more, then place 2 heaping teaspoons of filling (apricot, cheese, half apricot and half cheese, or Nutella) in the indentation. Repeat until all the kolaches are filled, then sprinkle on the coconut streusel or chopped hazelnuts, if using. Transfer the baking sheet to oven; bake (middle rack) for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

As soon as you take them from the oven, brush the kolaches with melted butter. Serve right away, while still warm, or cool completely and follow the MAKE AHEAD directions in the headnote.

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Recipe Source

From Bring It! columnist and cookbook author Cathy Barrow.

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

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