Sunday, July 16, 2023

Czech out the Babes!


July’s bread challenge shares a bit of my background and heritage:  kolache, the (mostly) sweet Czech pastry.  Growing up, we had family friends, originally from the Chicago area, with whom we spent a fair amount of time.  Occasionally,  their Grandma would come to visit from Chicago, and the family would celebrate with a feast.  She was very old-school – didn’t speak English and baked without measuring anything.  Her dumplings were sublime, and her kolache were just as delicious.

Many Czech immigrants settled in the central United States, from Illinois down to Texas.  My relatives started out in Illinois, and made their way to Ohio, Nebraska, and Iowa, and eventually to California.  Immigrants who ended up in Texas created a kolache variation that used sausage instead of a sweeter filling. 

Originating in central Europe, kolache are a type of semisweet pastry, made from a puffy yeast dough, and filled with cream cheese/farmers cheese, fruit jams, poppy seeds, or, in the case of the Texas version, sausage.  Sizes range from sweet roll-size to cookie-size.  There is usually a crumb topping as well.

For my filling, I used farmers cheese that I had leftover from a previous bake.  I’ve included that recipe, and, even though I only made half a recipe, I had filling left over.  I also had some of the crumb topping left over, so you can adjust accordingly.  I’ve included some links for traditional fillings, but, certainly you can choose to be creative.

This particular recipe comes from Sarah Kieffer’s website, The Vanilla Bean Blog, but I’ve included other websites as well that have slight variations.  I stored the leftover kolache in the refrigerator, and they reheated very nicely in my toaster oven.

I hope you enjoy this festive bread, and I look forward to seeing all the creative variations that you bake!  If you wish to join the Babes as a buddy, share your post with me by July 29th at jahunt22 at gmail dot com.

Homemade Kolaches

Servings: 16 kolaches

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes



  • 3 1/2 cups (491g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (66g) sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks

Cream cheese filling

  • 12 ounces (340g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice


  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled


For the dough

·         Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, melted butter, sugar, egg, and egg yolks in a 4-cup measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using a dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and now dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but still sticks to bottom, 8 to 12 minutes.


·         Transfer dough to a well-floured counter. Using your well-floured hands, knead dough to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)

Make the filling

·         Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and mix to combine. Taste filling – you are looking for the lemon juice to brighten the filling, but not make it taste like lemon. Add more juice if needed. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the streusel

·         Combine flour, sugar, and butter in bowl and rub between fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.


Finish the dough

·         Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter. Stretch the dough into an even 16-inch log. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces (about 2 1/4 ounce each) and cover loosely with greased plastic. Working one piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), form into rough ball by stretching dough around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that the top is smooth. Place the ball seam side down on a clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until dough feels taut and round.


·         Arrange dough balls seam side down on prepared sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until increased in size by about half, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

·         Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour bottom of a round 1/3-cup dry measuring cup. Press the cup firmly into the center of each dough round until the cup touches the sheet to make indentation for filling. (Reflour the cup as needed to prevent sticking.)


·         Divide filling evenly among kolaches (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) and smooth with the back of a spoon. Whisk together 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch salt. Gently brush the edges with egg mixture and sprinkle with streusel. (Do not sprinkle streusel over filling.) 


·         Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway though baking. Transfer kolaches to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm.



*Recipe adapted from Bread Illustrated.

*If your dough is not clearing the sides of the bowl after mixing, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it does so (every time I’ve made this I’ve had to add 2-4 tablespoons  extra of flour).

*You can sub ricotta for half of the cream cheese filling. Use 6 ounces (170g) cream cheese and 6 ounces (3/4 cup) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese


Farmer cheese filling:

450 grams farmers cheese    (225 grams)

120 grams powdered sugar  (60 grams)

1 egg yolk

1 T cornstarch  (1 ½ t. cornstarch)


1 T. lemon zest   (1 ½ t. lemon zest)

1 t. vanilla   (1/2 t. vanilla)

2 T. raisins  (1 T. raisins)

Place all ingredients into a bowl; mix well.


Visit the other Babes to see what they made:





hobby baker Kelly said...

I love the cheese versions so much, really do need to make another batch!

Cathy (Bread Experience) said...

These pastries are divine! Thank you for choosing these Kolaches as the bake of the month.

Karen said...

Thank you for introducing these to the Babes! Not having any midwest roots, I was not familiar with them. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

Katie Zeller said...

Measuring? That's why grandmas can't teach the kids how to bake. It's hard to work out 'a couple pf handfuls'.
The kolache look wonderful. Good choice!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Thank you for such a lovely bread. I love it reflects your cultural background. The cheese filled version is just delicious, and a keeper.

Elizabeth said...

I love these recipes from other cultures that come from "grandmothers" and "aunts". And your kolaches look so good! I WILL make them. I WILL. We have some recently made apricot jam that is calling and calling to be used as a filling for kolaches.