Saturday, December 27, 2014

Koláče (Kolaches - Czech Sweet Yeast Rolls)

If you've lived in Texas long enough, you eventually come across the Czech Stop in West, Texas.  This is a required pit stop for anyone traveling down I-35.  Required.  I'm actually not sure how you could roll past this little kolache nirvana.  And lord help you if anyone knows you're going through that area, and you DON'T BRING ANY KOLACHES HOME.  Well, just in case, here's a pretty fabulous little recipe to make some at home.  Hey, I'm just thinking about your well-being.  Promise.

Koláče (Kolaches - Czech Sweet Yeast Rolls)

1¼ cups whole milk
1 (7-gram) packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons) or 1½ teaspoons instant/bread machine yeast
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk

Cheese filling:
6 ounces farmer’s cheese
1 large egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ egg white, whipped until foamy

Blueberry filling:
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Crumb topping:
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons powdered sugar

Forming kolaches:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Dough: Take half of the milk and warm it to 110°F. Add a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast to the warm milk; stir well and set aside until the yeast starts to bubble, about five minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the flours, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon peel. Take the rest of the milk, mix in the egg yolks, and then add to the dough along with the melted butter; mix well. Add the yeast mixture and mix everything together. Knead the dough until smooth, then dust with flour, cover with a dishtowel, and let rise until it has doubled (45 minutes to 1 hour).  If making the dough in a bread machine, add the milk, egg yolk, lemon peel, vanilla extract, and melted butter first, then the flours, sugar, salt, and lastly, the yeast.  Allow the dough cycle to run through.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese filling, blueberry filling, and crumb topping.

Cheese filling: Mix together the farmer’s cheese, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Whip the egg white until it holds soft peaks and gradually fold the egg white into the farmer's cheese mixture.

Blueberry filling: Add all ingredients to a small pan and cook over medium heat until the blueberries pop and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Crumb topping: Melt the butter, then add the flour and sugar. Stir with a fork until crumbly and there are only a few large pieces.

Forming kolaches: Use a spoon to remove small portions of dough from the bowl. Roll into balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on a counter for about 45 minutes to rise again. When the kolaches have risen about double, remove the plastic wrap.  Using a spoon or your fingers, press an indention in the middle of each ball, being carefull not to press all the way through to the cookie sheet.  Brush the kolaches with melted butter. Spoon about a teaspoon of the cheese filling into each kolache, and then a small amount of the blueberry filling on top of the cheese. Sprinkle each kolache with crumb topping.

Place the baking sheets in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 20 minutes. When they have just turned golden brown, they are ready.

Makes about 30 rolls

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